Bonita J. Brown: Meet the attorney elected first woman Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University

Abu Mubarik June 04, 2024
Bonita J. Brown. Photo credit:

Bonita J. Brown has been appointed the Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU). She was elected by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to be the university’s 14th chancellor, following her nomination by the University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans.

She will assume the role on July 1 and succeed Interim Chancellor Anthony Graham and former Chancellor Elwood Robinson, who retired last year. The appointment makes her the first woman to lead the institution. Prior to her current appointment, she served as interim president at Northern Kentucky University, where she managed the university’s budget challenges.

Brown, who is a trained attorney, has also held other senior leadership positions across public higher education, including chief of staff, chief strategy officer, and general counsel. With experience in national student access initiatives, she served as vice president for network engagement at Achieving the Dream, Inc., a Silver Spring, MD-based nonprofit focused on community colleges, and as director of higher education practice at The Education Trust, a Washington-based nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps for students of color and students from low-income families, a statement by the University of North Carolina System said.

“It is a true honor and a privilege to return home to lead this great institution,” said Brown, a Winston-Salem native whose parents attended WSSU. “WSSU stands out as a leader in social mobility, which I have personally benefited from through my parents, and I want to provide that same opportunity to others in this region,” she continued.

“I look forward to working with the amazing WSSU faculty, staff, students and alumni as we build upon the historical strengths of this university that will launch us into the future. I have been preparing for this moment my entire career and I am overjoyed to serve this great institution.”

Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey said Brown has never shied away from putting students first. “She is the kind of leader who will empower students to succeed at Winston-Salem State,” Ramsey said. “I am delighted she is coming home to North Carolina to serve this important institution.”

Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Wake Forest University and a juris doctor degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.

She served as assistant university attorney at WSSU from 2004 to 2006. She also served as the vice chancellor and chief of staff from 2010 to 2015 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2006, she was general counsel at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Early in her career, she served as assistant to the president and attorney at two private HBCUs in North Carolina – Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and Livingstone College in Salisbury.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 4, 2024


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