Bernadette Gray-Little retired as chancellor of the University of Kansas in 2017, and before that was a professor and leader at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A Tar Heel born, she grew up in Beaufort County. After earning her doctorate from Saint Louis University, she began her academic career at Carolina in 1971 as an assistant professor, and over time served as chair of the psychology department, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and then provost and executive vice chancellor.
In 2009, she moved from Chapel Hill to become the first woman and African American chancellor at the University of Kansas. She made that university a national model among its peers by revising admission standards, enhancing student financial aid, introducing an innovative general education curriculum and improving graduation rates. She expanded the schools of medicine, pharmacy, nursing and engineering and transformed the campus with 50 capital projects. To help achieve these goals, she led the university through a campaign that raised nearly $1.7 billion. KU recently recognized these accomplishments by renaming the new Integrated Science Building in her honor.
Beyond her university leadership, she has served on the boards of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. She currently sits on the boards of the Online Computer Library Center and UNC Health Care System. While at Carolina, she received the General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal and was inducted into both the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of the Grail-Valkyries and in 2014 was honored with the William Richardson Davie Award.