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Robert S. Nelsen

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CSU Trustees appoint Robert S. Nelsen as president of California State University, Sacramento

Announcement from the CSU, Office of the Chancellor:

(March 25, 2015) The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees has appointed Robert S. Nelsen, Ph.D., as president of California State University, Sacramento. Formerly the president of the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in Edinburg, Texas (2010-14), Nelsen has most recently served in an advisory capacity for the University of Texas System. He will assume leadership of the University in July.

“Sacramento State has truly become a destination campus where students receive a transformative educational experience that prepares them for success in the future,” said Nelsen. “The opportunity to work alongside the many dedicated faculty and staff who guide students along that journey and prepare them for achievements beyond the classroom is incredibly exciting.”

Nelsen will become the eighth permanent president of Sacramento State and will succeed Alexander Gonzalez, who will retire at the end of June after 12 years as president. 

“Dr. Robert Nelsen is an accomplished and visionary leader who will successfully build on the foundation President Gonzalez has established at Sacramento State," said CSU Trustee Steve Glazer, chair of the Sacramento State Presidential Search Committee. “He has extensive experience leading a large, diverse university and a long history of always putting students first.”

From 2010 to 2014, Nelsen served as president of UTPA, where his efforts culminated in the establishment of a new University of Texas campus, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, a bicultural, bilingual, bi-literate university complete with its own medical school that encompasses all of the talent, resources, and assets of UTPA and the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Nelsen’s previous experience includes service as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs for Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (2008-09) and various leadership roles at the University of Texas at Dallas, including Vice Provost, Associate Provost, and Assistant and Associate Professor (1990-2008). He began his career in higher education as a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Nelsen holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought.