Program Report: NCCU Chancellor Johnson Akinleye


North Carolina Central University Chancellor Johnson Akinleye highlighted the university’s growing national academic and athletic stature and massive local economic impact during an update Monday. He also called for added local investment in and around the school’s growing campus by area businesses and institutions.

“This is what we need,” said Akinleye. “We want investment in NCCU and investment in areas around NCCU.”

NCCU has entered its second century of service, and in 2016 was named “HBCU of the Year.”

But Akinleye looked largely forward.  He told a full house of Rotarians that the university works to refine and expand academic programming in combination with work to create new partnerships with academic institutions, businesses, non-profits and other institutions. The goal, he said, is to help connect the school and its students globally as part of its mission to create “market-ready” graduates who have academic credentials and real-world work exposure and experience.

Akinleye said regional economic surveys have quantified the university’s regional economic impact at $563.7 million. Many of the school’s graduates remain in the RDU area he said, as do many of its 30,000 alumni. In 2017, NCCU graduated 1,215 students, the largest class in its history. Average starting salaries for 2017 graduates exceed $40,000, in contrast the U.S. median starting salary of more than $28,000 per year.

“We are actually soaring as an institution,” Akinleye said, noting the university’s increasing national profile not only in academics but athletics. NCCU is growing in new areas of research, research grants and spending, he said, noting a $16.3 million grant from a division of the National Institute of Health (NIH) for a new research center focused on health disparities and a $1 million grant by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in NCCU’s nursing program.

Among current-year expansions on campus are a new school of business and a new student center at Cecil and Fayetteville Street that will include a 1,400-seat auditorium available not only for academics and students but to the city of Durham. 

Concurrent with physical expansion are current-year goals to expand partnerships with institutions to recruit, support and employ students and create new strategies of economic development to promote campus and campus-area investment.

Akinleye said during questions and answers that the school is diverse in faculty, staff, students and nature of its service to the city, “one of our priorities,” though NCCU has taken is place among the premiere drivers of excellence among the nation’s historically black colleges and institutions.

Akinleye received his doctorate from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Following a stint as acting chancellor, Akinleye was named chancellor in June, 2017, by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. He has been an administrator, consultant, motivational speaker and writer. He was introduced by former Club President Lois DeLoatch, who noted “strong ties” between Durham Rotary and NCCU.

We thank Dr. Akinleye for his update.

Submitted by Mark Lazenby

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