Charlie Nelms has been in the position since August, but Friday was set aside to grant him an official welcome.
The university was founded 99 years ago as a national religious training school.
"Chancellor Nelms you have your wings," NCCU student Tomasi Larry said. "So failure is not an option. Lead the flock, be encouraged. And most of all continue to educate young minds."
Raised in Arkansas, Nelms comes to Central from Indiana University. There he served as vice president for student affairs.
A host of dignitaries wished him well Friday.
"We look forward to the many exciting things you will do here at North Carolina Central University and look forward to a continued successful partnership between this university and our city," Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.
Shortly after Nelms took the official oath of office, he sent a message to students at the growing university.
"Students, I would suggest to you that if you do not have graduation in your destination, you may want to consider transferring to someplace with lower expectations," Nelms said.
Nelms takes over as NCCU continues its push to expand -- a push that largely began with his predecessor. Now as the university prepares to celebrate its 100th year, Nelms looks ready to lead.
He takes over for James Ammons, who left to become chancellor of Florida A&M University.