Becton chosen to lead ECSU

May. 24, 2013 @ 04:26 PM

Charles L. Becton, the Durham attorney, law professor and former N.C. Court of Appeals judge has served as interim chancellor of N.C. Central University for about 10 months.

Now, UNC system President Tom Ross has handed Becton a new assignment, this one at Elizabeth City State University, a small historically black college of 3,200 students in Elizabeth City.

Ross announced Friday that he has tapped Becton to lead embattled ECSU on interim basis while that school searches for a new chancellor.

“As he has demonstrated yet again during his tenure as interim chancellor at NCCU, he tackles every challenge handed to him with full commitment, great passion and absolute integrity,” Ross said in a news release. “I can think of no one who is better qualified to lead ECSU during this time of transition, and I am grateful that he has accepted this new assignment.”

Becton’s appointment at ECSU is effective July 1, and will come a month after new NCCU chancellor Debra Saunders-White arrives on campus. 

Saunders-White, a deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, was hired to lead NCCU in February.

At ECSU, Becton will succeed Willie Gilchrist, who announced his retirement last week amid a State Bureau of Investigations probe into the university’s failure to properly investigate more than 125 criminal complaints since 2007, including at least 18 allegations of sexual assaults.

ECSU’s former police chief, Sam Beamon, who was already on administrative leave, resigned earlier this month in the wake of the revelation about his department’s mishandling of criminal complaints.

The SBI is also investigating witness intimidation and obstruction of justice complaints at ECSU.

The ECSU Board of Trustees will be asked to form a search committee of trustees, faculty, students and alumni to help identify a permanent successor to Gilchrist. 

The Board of Trustees will forward a slate of finalists to Ross for consideration. Ross will then make a recommendation to the UNC Board of Governors, which will elect the new chancellor.

Ross asked Becton to lead NCCU last July after the abrupt retirement of chancellor Charlie Nelms, who served five years in the post.

Becton was born in Morehead City and reared in Ayden. He 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 N.C. 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.