Nolen Ellison

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Nolen Ellison
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Born (1941-11-03) November 3, 1941 (age 82)
Kansas City, Kansas, U.S.
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • University of Kansas
  • Michigan State University
OccupationBasketball player

Nolan M. Ellison is a former All-Big 8 Conference basketball player and pioneering community college educator and administrator.

Early life

Nolen M. Ellison was born November 3, 1941, in Kansas City, Kansas. Ellison grew up in inner-city Kansas City, KS with his older brother Benoyd M. (Butch) Ellison. Ellison graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1959.

Basketball Career

Ellison starred on 3 Kansas State High School Activities Association large class state championship teams (1957–1959) at Wyandotte High School under Coach Walter Shublom helping him to earn a basketball scholarship at the University of Kansas. [1]

Attending Kansas immediately after Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball African American pioneers Maurice King, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Bridges, and Wayne Hightower, Ellison played three seasons at Kansas for Coach Dick Harp from the 1960-61 Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team through the 1962-63 Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team. Ellison earned All-Big Eight Conference as the Jayhawks second leading scorer in both the 1961-62 Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team|1961-1962 season and 1962-63 Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team.[2]

Ellison's brother Butch, who attended Sumner Academy of Arts & Science and Kansas City Kansas Community College also joined the Kansas Jayhawk basketball program and played during the 1960-61 Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team.

Upon graduation from the University of Kansas in 1963, Ellison was drafted in the 4th Round of the 1963 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards (later relocated to Baltimore and then becoming the current day Washington Wizards).[3]

Ellison declined the professional basketball opportunity with the Zephyrs, but later participated in the 1964 Olympic basketball training camp.

Academic Career

Ellison graduated from the University of Kansas in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science in Education.

After starting his career as a student teacher in the Shawnee Heights USD 450 school district in Topeka, Kansas, Ellison taught and coached at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, KS from 1963-1967. [4][5][6] During his tenure at Sumner, Ellison was the first African-American elected to the Kansas City Kansas Community College Junior College Board of Trustees. While serving in the role of a trustee, Ellison met a representative of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation who convinced him that he could become a community college president. This Kellogg Foundation connection led to a post-graduate scholarship at Michigan State University that Ellison utilized to enter a graduate education program at Michigan State's campus in East Lansing, Michigan in 1969. [7]

Ellison earned his Ph.D. in Education/Leadership Management from Michigan State University in 1971. Also, during his tenure at Michigan State, Ellison served as Associate Dean of MSU's College of Urban Affairs and as Assistant to the MSU President, Clifton R. Wharton Jr..

In the fall of 1971, Ellison was hired as Assistant to the Chancellor at Metropolitan Community College (Missouri) in Kansas City, MO for the 1971-1972 academic year. [8] In 1972, at the age of 31, Ellison was hired as president of Seattle Central Community College.[9] At the time he was the youngest CEO of a higher education institution in Washington and one of the youngest in the United States. Ellison held the position until 1974. In 1974, Ellison was hired to be the second President and CEO in the history of the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, OH. At Cuyahoga Community College, Ellison was known as an educational innovator that pushed for the installation of computers on the campus. Ellison was also instrumental in the creation of the Tri-City Jazzfest Cleveland in 1980.[10] Ellison held this position until 1991.[11]

In June, 1992, Ellison was hired at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as the Endowed Chair - Missouri Schutte Professor of Urban Affairs in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. Ellison held this position until 2001.[12]

After retiring from UMKC, Ellison returned to Kansas City Kansas Community College in 2007 in a consulting role while also serving as a trustee of the college for the second time. Ellison became the first KCKCC trustee to serve two non-conjoining terms on the board.[13]


In 1983, Ellison was awarded a distinguished service citation by the University of Kansas Alumni Association during the commencement exercises on May 14-15, 1983. [14]

During his tenure as president of Seattle Central Community College, Ellison was named by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce as one of its "10 Outstanding Young Men of the Year".[15]

In 2004, Cuyahoga Community College named a new building, the Nolen M. Ellison Building-Unified Technologies Center, on their campus after Ellison.

Phi Delta Kappa awarded Ellison as one of the 75 outstanding educational leaders in the United States. [16]


  1. Twyman, Gib. "Wizard of Wyandotte is legend in own right". No. February 7, 1982. Kansas City Star. p. Page 1 SPORTS.
  2. "Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk: Nolen Ellison". January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  3. "Nolen Ellison". January 26, 2022. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  4. N/A, N/A (August 3, 1968). "Church Is Site for Summer Play". Kansas City Times. p. 73.
  5. Banfield, Al. "Ward and De La Salle Have Outstanding Cage Prospects". No. November 17, 1966. Kansas City Times. p. 3D.
  6. Warner, Gary D. (November 19, 1965). "Ward and De La Salle Have Outstanding Cage Prospects". Kansas City Times. p. 28.
  7. N/Al, N/A (September 20, 1968). "Leaves a Juco Post". Kansas City Star. p. 42.
  8. N/A, N/A (May 23, 1972). "Seattle Post to Ellison". Kansas City Times. p. 5.
  9. "Past Presidents". January 31, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  10. "Dr. Nolen Ellison". January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  11. Farkas, Karen (August 19, 2013). "Cuyahoga Community College's presidents gather at convocation". Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  12. "UMKC fills Schutte professorship". January 1, 1993. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  13. "Ellison First to Join KCKCC Trustees for Second Time". November 13, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  14. Morgan, Ray (May 3, 1983). "KU to honor Dole, ex-Kansas Citian". Kansas City Times. p. 18.
  15. N/A, N/A (January 21, 1974). "Bond Accepts Jaycee Award". Kansas City Times. p. 12.
  16. Marshall, Tom (March 8, 1981). "KU Grad wins praise as educator". Kansas City Star. p. 143.

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