North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is a public historically black university in the University of North Carolina system, located in Durham, North Carolina, offering programs at the baccalaureate, master’s, professional and doctoral levels. The University is a member-school of Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
North Carolina Central University was founded by James E. Shepard as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua in the Hayti District. It was chartered in 1909 as a private institution and opened on July 5, 1910. Along with other progressives, Woodrow Wilson, the future U.S. President, contributed some private support for the school's founding. The school was sold and reorganized in 1915, becoming the National Training School; it was supported by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, a philanthropist of New York who was particularly concerned about education. It supported Black teacher development in the Jim Crow era, a time when funding and support for Black education by southern states was severely limited.
Becoming a state-funded institution in 1923, it was renamed Durham State Normal School. In 1925, reflecting the expansion of its programs to a four-year curriculum with a variety of majors, it was renamed the North Carolina College for Negroes. It was the nation's first state-supported liberal arts college for black students. To avoid the Jim Crow system of segregated passenger cars on the train, Shepard insisted on traveling to Raleigh by car to lobby the legislature. The college's first four-year class graduated in 1929.
The college was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools as an “A” class institution in 1937, but it was not admitted to membership until 1957. Graduate courses in the School of Arts and Sciences were added in 1939, in the School of Law in 1940, and in the School of Library Science in 1941. In 1947, the General Assembly changed the name of the institution to North Carolina College at Durham.
On October 6, 1947, Shepard, the founder and president, died. He was succeeded in 1948 by Alfonso Elder. Elder served as president until he retired September 1, 1963. Samuel P. Massie was appointed as the third president on August 9, 1963, and resigned on February 1, 1966. On July 1, 1967, Albert N. Whiting assumed the presidency, serving until his retirement June 30, 1983.
The 1969 General Assembly designated the institution as one of the State's regional universities, and the name was changed to North Carolina Central University. Since 1972, NCCU has been a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system. On July 1, 1972, the state’s four-year colleges and universities were joined to become The Consolidated University of North Carolina, with 16 individual campuses, headed by a single president and governed by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. However, each campus was led by a separate chancellor and a campus-specific Board of Trustees.
Whiting was succeeded by LeRoy T. Walker as chancellor, followed by Tyronza R. Richmond, Julius L. Chambers (who had previously been director-counsel (chief executive) of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund), James H. Ammons, Charlie Nelms, and in 2013 by Dr. Debra Saunders-White, the first woman to hold the office on a permanent basis (Dr. Donna Benson was the first woman to serve as interim chancellor of the university).
The campus is located about a mile south of downtown Durham, North Carolina and about three miles east of Duke University. The campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.
NCCU is a part of the UNC System. The campus is governed by a thirteen member Board of Trustees: eight elected, four appointed, and the president of the Student Government Association also serves as an ex-officio member. The Board elects its officers annually and meets five times per year. As of 2011[update], NCCU had a total of 8,587 students, (full and part-time) including 5396 full-time undergraduate and 1233 full-time graduate students. Sixty-four percent are women and 36 percent are men. Eighty-five percent are African-American, 6 percent are white, and 2 percent are Hispanic. As of 2007[update], NCCU had a student faculty ratio of 13:1.
In 2005, NCCU was No. 1 among HBCU in North Carolina in the recruitment of National Achievement Scholars and a leader among all institutions in the state trailing Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
NCCU in conjunction with the African American Jazz Caucus sponsors a Jazz Research Institute which conducts an annual Summer Jazz Festival and offers a program in Jazz Studies.
North Carolina Central University has 130 registered student organizations and 12 honor societies.
The students of North Carolina Central University publish the Campus Echo, a bi-weekly newspaper that has been in publication since the school's founding in 1910. The Campus Echo contains articles covering local events, arts and entertainment, and sports among other topics.
NCCU sponsors fourteen men’s and women’s sports teams that participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I as a newly readmitted member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Athletic teams include football, softball, baseball, basketball, track and field, tennis, volleyball, bowling, and golf.
The North Carolina Central University Marching Band known as the Marching Sound Machine was one of two bands selected from North Carolina to participate in the 2011 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA.