Dr. Ivory V. Nelson is a three-time university and a former community college chancellor who assumed the role of interim provost at Jackson State University in July.

The native of Shreveport, Louisiana, has a long association with his protégé, new JSU President William B. Bynum Jr. and said he will use his expertise and knowledge to support JSU’s top leader.

Nelson, a chemist, began working in higher education in 1963. During his presidency at Lincoln University (1999-2011), he hired Bynum as his vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Later, Nelson would engineer a financial plan that resurrected the struggling institution. He secured $40.1 million in financing, $27 million in private financing and $290 million from the state of Pennsylvania for renovation and new construction. Capping his career at Lincoln, the Board of Trustees named a $45 million building in his honor: The Ivory V. Nelson Science Center.

Prior to Lincoln, Nelson was the first black president of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, from 1992 to 1999, and later president emeritus. During the early 1980s, he served as acting president of Prairie View A&M University for nine months.

The Fulbright scholar is a recipient of a Phi Beta Kappa key and has published more than 12 technical articles on chemistry topics. He spent three years at Southern University at Shreveport as chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences. Also, he’s known for numerous groundbreaking firsts:

  • – First male graduate from Grambling State University to receive a Ph.D. (He graduated from Grambling in 1959 and received his doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Kansas, where he was the first black graduate from UK to receive such a degree in 1963)
  • – First African-American to become chancellor of the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Texas (1986)
  • – First black chemistry Ph.D. graduate to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Kansas (1964)
  • – First African-American to become executive assistant to the chancellor of Texas A&M University System (1983)


The U.S. Air Force veteran has been involved in various other organizations, including Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc.