Published: Monday, July 30, 2012
Charles L. Becton of Durham, an attorney, law professor and former judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, will become interim chancellor of North Carolina Central University on Aug. 6. Becton was appointed last Thursday by UNC President Tom Ross after current NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms announced his retirement.
“Chancellor Nelms has made extraordinary contributions to the academic quality and stature of North Carolina Central University that will hold it in good stead as we search for his successor," Ross said. "Judge Charles Becton is known and respected throughout the Durham community and the state of North Carolina for his sound judgment and ability to get things done, so I’m confident that NCCU won’t lose any momentum as the search for a permanent chancellor gets under way. I am grateful that Judge Becton has accepted this important assignment, and I know that the campus will be in very capable hands.”
Born in Morehead City and raised in the eastern North Carolina town of Ayden, Becton earned his undergraduate degree at Howard University and holds law degrees from Duke University (J.D.) and the University of Virginia School of Law (LL.M.). He began his legal career in 1969 with the New York-based NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and joined the Charlotte law firm of Chambers Stein Ferguson & Lanning the following year. He soon helped establish the firm’s Chapel Hill office, where he practiced until being appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1981. Becton remained on the appellate bench until 1990, returning to private practice with the Raleigh law firm of Fuller, Becton, Slifkin & Bell.
Becton also has taught and lectured at trial advocacy skills institutes across the U.S. and beyond and is currently the John Scott Cansler Lecturer at the UNC–Chapel Hill School of Law and a visiting professor at the Duke University School of Law. In 2010, he served as the Charles Hamilton Houston Chaired Professor of Law at the NCCU Law School.
Becton has served as president of the N.C. Association of Black Lawyers, the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the N.C. Bar Association. His many awards and honors include N.C. Appellate Judge of the Year; the Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Trial Advocacy Award; the Roscoe Pound Foundation’s Richard S. Jacobson Award; and the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers’ Trial Advocacy Award, which was named in his honor. He and his wife, Brenda, have three adult children.
The NCCU Board of Trustees will soon form a search committee of trustees, faculty, students and alumni to help identify a permanent successor to Chancellor Nelms. The Board of Trustees will forward a list of finalists to President Ross for consideration. The new chancellor, upon nomination by the president, must be elected by the UNC Board of Governors.
Nelms, 65, is retiring from the University after five years in the post and nearly four decades in higher education administration. Nelms will work with Becton through Aug. 31 to help ensure a smooth transition in leadership.
Taken from UNC-GA news release