Experienced chancellor led Elizabeth City State University through period of growth

RALEIGH, N.C. – Dr. Karrie Dixon, who has led Elizabeth City State University to a new era of expansion and success, was elected chancellor of North Carolina Central University today by the UNC Board of Governors.

She was recommended by UNC System President Peter Hans following a national search that drew more than 50 candidates, resulting in three finalists endorsed by the NCCU Board of Trustees. She succeeds Chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye, who is retiring June 30 after eight years leading the university.

Dixon has served as chancellor of Elizabeth City State since 2018, bringing forth a renaissance to a campus that previously experienced enrollment declines and financial pressures. During her tenure as chancellor, Dixon grew enrollment by nearly 70%, raised $24 million in private gifts and built partnerships that led to nearly $300 million in state and federal funding for facilities, infrastructure and academic programs. In two years’ time, employee morale moved from lowest in the UNC System to the highest.

“Karrie Dixon has been a widely admired leader in our university System for more than two decades,” Hans said. “She’s known for building great teams and taking on big challenges with honesty and optimism. I’m excited for NC Central and grateful to Chancellor Dixon for her commitment to this state.”

“Being a part of this incredible community of scholars, innovators and leaders on the sloping hills and verdant green is a dream come true,” said NCCU Chancellor-elect Dixon. “NCCU embodies grit, innovation, leadership, purpose and legacy, and I am committed to building on our rich traditions and ensuring that our students, faculty, staff and alumni have the tools and opportunities necessary to succeed. I can’t wait to engage with all the possibilities that Durham has to offer.”

“We are thrilled to have a dynamic new chancellor in Dr. Karrie Dixon to accelerate the growth of our great institution so our students and graduates can fully compete in a global economy,” said NCCU Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Holloway. “This is about providing the best education we can for our students to achieve their purpose and take flight.”

Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, served as chair of the NCCU chancellor search advisory committee. “I am very excited because I firmly believe that Chancellor-elect Karrie Dixon possesses all the desired characteristics and traits that NCCU constituents who participated in our rigorous search process said they hoped for in the next chancellor,” Johnson said. “She is a North Carolina native; a seasoned higher education administrator with a track record of student-centered success in the UNC System; committed to active and purposeful engagement with the full range of university constituencies; and has the leadership presence and soft skills acumen to attract the support that NCCU needs to thrive. I am confident in President Hans’ decision and in the future of my alma mater.”

Dixon has worked within the UNC System for 23 years, moving up the ranks in academic positions at the System Office, including as vice president for academic and student affairs, senior associate vice president for academic and student affairs and assistant vice president for academic and student affairs. Previously she was assistant vice provost at NC State University, and before that served as a program assessment consultant in NC State’s Department of Chemical Engineering. She was an adjunct assistant professor at NC State’s College of Education, and taught communication at NC State and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

She served a one-year American Council on Education Fellowship at Wake Forest University in 2016-17.

She has been a longtime ally of the UNC Association of Student Governments, and recently received the student organization’s top award, the William C. Friday Lifetime Achievement Award.

A first-generation college graduate, Dixon holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from NC State University, a master’s degree in speech communication from UNC Greensboro, and a Doctor of Education degree in higher education administration from NC State University.

“This is a great day for North Carolina Central University,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey. “Karrie Dixon has made enormous contributions to eastern North Carolina during her years of service to Elizabeth City State University and will now be a tremendous leader for another of our state’s important public HBCUs. I congratulate her and look forward to seeing what this new chapter holds.”