JCSU President's Biography

Dr. Carter

Dr. Ronald L. Carter, a native of High Point, N.C., became the 13th president of Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, N.C.) on July 1, 2008. With more than 30 years serving students and universities, Dr. Carter brings an impressive record of community leadership, academic administration, scenario planning and budget management to the position.

 Upon graduating magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and philosophy from Morehouse College in 1971, Dr. Carter pursued graduate studies, earning a Master of Theology and a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Boston University. Dr. Carter began his distinguished career at Boston University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center. By 1981, he advanced to become the school’s youngest dean of students. In the 1980s, Dr. Carter's interaction with relatives of Nelson Mandela compelled him to put his abilities to work in South Africa.

Dr. Carter was named senior administrator of the Health Services Development Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Within five years, he became the dean of students and one of the first black senior administrators at this traditionally white research institution. Dr. Carter returned to the United States in 1997 as the provost and dean of faculty at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. His 11-year tenure included key roles in the private liberal arts college’s strategic planning, academic and student development, financial management, and community development.

His expertise in medical ethics and community involvement have brought him several national appointments, including moderator for the National Meeting of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health (2004-2006), chair of expert panel for the Connecting Parenting Adults and Youth Project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006), and chair of expert review panel of scientific measurement for an abstinence rating tool funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007). He has appeared on numerous television and radio programs in South Africa and the U.S., discussing educational issues and policies.

Among his many honors, Dr. Carter was appointed a Sloan Scholar at Morehouse College, a Danforth Fellow at Boston University, and a Merrill Scholar at Robert College, Istanbul, Turkey. Since becoming president, Dr. Carter has become very involved in the Charlotte community and received the Newcomer of the Year Award from Leadership Charlotte in 2010.

He serves on the boards of: Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Partnership, Duke Mansion/The Lee Institute, Opera Carolina, Mint Museum, Council for Children’s Rights, Fifth Third Bank Affiliate Board, North Carolina Council of Independent Colleges, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, 100 Black Men of Charlotte, Association of Governing Boards and the United Negro College Fund.

Dr. Carter was honored with the 2011 Charlotte Catalyst Humanitarian Award for his efforts in diversity and philanthropy as a leader in the community. Through Dr. Carter’s ambitious vision, JCSU is exceeding goals and attracting national attention for its positive changes and local support. The University is creating a path of success emphasizing partnership, revitalization, and transformation.

In 2013, he received the Creative Thinkers Award from the Carolinas Chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate for his leadership in envisioning and executing the Mosaic Village project as part of the transformation of the Northwest Corridor. Dr. Carter also received the Latin American Excelente Award from the Charlotte Latin American Coalition in 2013 as the non-Latino person who has done the most to support the Latino community. The Charlotte Post honored Dr. Carter with its Luminary Award in 2014. 

Dr. Carter is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusiveness. He is committed to understanding who we are as global citizens and making a difference as a community. By embracing diversity and inclusiveness, he believes we can learn the qualities that attract people to a cause and use their engagement as a catalyst for our greater well-being. 

Dr. Carter maintains that we need to ask and answer essential questions related to trust, race relations, economic diversity, and building and sustaining community assets. His vision and leadership will ensure that Johnson C. Smith University continues to grow and evolve in the forefront of HBCUs and in the brand of new urban universities.

He is the father of a daughter, Tumelo Rosalind Carter, and a son, Cory Demetrius Carter. He has also been the foster parent of four other children.