North Carolina Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer, has requested a medical leave of absence in order to fully focus her energies on her treatment.

A former U.S. deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs who has led NCCU since 2013, Saunders-White told UNC President Margaret Spellings she wanted to make sure the institution is full steam ahead as the new academic year gets underway.

Spellings today announced that Johnson O. Akinleye, NCCU’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, will serve as acting chancellor of the university, effective immediately.

In announcing Akinleye’s appointment, Spellings said: “I wholeheartedly support Chancellor Saunders-White’s decision to direct her complete attention to treatment, and NCCU is fortunate that Provost Akinleye has agreed to assume even greater responsibilities while she is on medical leave. Given his extensive administrative experience, he is exceptionally well qualified to assume oversight of the campus. The university will be in very good hands, and I am grateful that he has accepted this important assignment.”

Akinleye has served as NCCU’s chief academic officer since January 2014. In that role, he is responsible for faculty development, academic planning and assessment, oversight of all academic units—including the university’s seven schools and colleges—and enrollment management.

Prior to joining NCCU’s leadership team, Akinleye served as associate vice chancellor for academic programs at UNC Wilmington, where he was instrumental in leading online and distance education programs, increasing academic offerings, and leading the development and formation of the College of Allied Health.  Earlier in his career, he held a series of progressively responsible leadership posts at Edward Waters College and Bethune-Cookman University in Florida.  He began his academic career as a faculty member at Bowie State University in Maryland.

Akinleye holds an undergraduate degree in telecommunications and a master’s degree in media technology from Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University. He earned his Ph.D. in human communications studies from Howard University.

UNC General Administration contact: Joni Worthington, worthj@northcarolina.edu or (919) 962-4629.

NC Central University media contact: Ayana D. Hernandez, ahernandez@nccu.edu or 919-530-7266

North Carolina Central University

Monday, August 8, 2016