From Cotton Fields to University Leadership

All Eyes on Charlie, A Memoir

by Charlie Nelms

Published by: Indiana University Press

232 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 38 color illus.

  • Paperback
  • 9780253040169
  • Published: March 2019

$20.00

  • eBook
  • 9780253040183
  • Published: March 2019

$9.99

Charlie Nelms had audaciously big dreams. Growing up black in the Deep South in the 1950s and 1960s, working in cotton fields, and living in poverty, Nelms dared to dream that he could do more with his life than work for white plantation owners sun-up to sun-down. Inspired by his parents, who first dared to dream that they could own their own land and have the right to vote, Nelms chose education as his weapon of choice for fighting racism and inequality.


With hard work, determination, and the critical assistance of mentors who counseled him along the way, he found his way from the cotton fields of Arkansas to university leadership roles. Becoming the youngest and the first African American chancellor of a predominately white institution in Indiana, he faced tectonic changes in higher education during those ensuing decades of globalization, growing economic disparity, and political divisiveness. From Cotton Fields to University Leadership is an uplifting story about the power of education, the impact of community and mentorship, and the importance of dreaming big.