Dr. Robert S. Nelsen

Sacramento State will welcome Dr. Robert S. Nelsen as its eighth permanent president on Wednesday, July 1. He will replace Dr. Alexander Gonzalez, who is retiring after leading the University for the past 12 years.

Dr. Nelsen most recently served as special advisor to the University of Texas’ executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. He has worked in Texas since 1990, spending the first 18 years with the University of Texas-Dallas, where he held leadership positions such as vice provost and director of creative writing. From there, he went to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, where he was a professor of English and associate vice president for Academic Affairs in 2008-09.

In 2010, he became president of the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, a position he held until last year, when the university was merged with its sister campus in Brownsville to form the new University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

In March, the California State University Board of Trustees appointed Nelsen as Sacramento State’s next president. (See our announcement story.) He comes to Sacramento with his wife, Jody, and their cat, Tito.

Dr. Gonzalez, one of the longest-serving presidents in the CSU, leaves Sacramento State poised for a promising future with new Strategic and Campus Master plans in place. The Master Plan, approved last month by the CSU Board of Trustees, is the blueprint for development over the next 20 years. (See our story and virtual flyover video.) Construction will begin this summer on the first project, a residence hall that will stand beside the American River.

Gonzalez plans to return to Sacramento State to teach a course on leadership, his specialty. – Dixie Reid