The Nicolet College Board of Trustees has announced that
Richard Nelson has accepted the position of president of the college.
Nelson, who currently serves as provost at Paul Smith’s
College in New York, will begin his duties at Nicolet July 1.
“Dr. Nelson’s extensive experience in higher education
and outstanding leadership abilities were precisely what we were looking for in
the next president of Nicolet College,” said Ron Zimmerman, chair of the Board
of Trustees and Presidential Search Committee. “The board was impressed with
Dr. Nelson’s ability to collaborate with faculty and staff across campus at
Paul Smith’s College and his ability to recognize talent and then foster the
development of these individuals. We are pleased that he accepted the
Nelson has served as provost of Paul Smith’s College for
the past nine years. Located in upstate New York, the private, four-year campus
has about 900 students.
“It’s an honor to be selected as President of Nicolet
College and to have the opportunity to serve the people of northern Wisconsin,”
Nelson said. “Nicolet plays such a vital role in providing the training people
need to get good jobs and in developing the skilled workforce necessary to a
build sustainable and prosperous economy throughout the Nicolet District. This
is a very exciting opportunity.”
While at Paul Smith’s College, Nelson:
– Started many new degree programs and minors in response
to student interests and employer demand.
– Instituted a comprehensive student success program that
increased student retention by 10 percent.
– Led an all-campus strategic planning effort that tied
mission, values, and goals to planning, budgeting, reporting, effectiveness
assessment, and ongoing improvement.
He also currently serves as board chair of the Adirondack
Economic Development Commission and is a member of numerous other community and
Prior to his provost position, Nelson served at the
University of Minnesota-Crookston as associate vice chancellor of Academic
Affairs; director for the Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources, College
Extension Liaison; interim executive director of the Red River Trade Corridor;
and chair of the Agriculture Management Division.
He holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science, both in Food
Science from Cornell University; and a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation
Science from the University of California, Davis.
Nelson replaces Elizabeth Burmaster, who left in June of
2014 to serve as president of Frederick Community College in Frederick, Md.,
her hometown. Kenneth Urban, vice president of Teaching, Learning, and Student
Success at Nicolet, serves as interim president during the transition.
During the five-month search process, board members
sought and received hundreds of comments from community members and those on
staff at Nicolet about what they would like to see in the next president.
“It was important to the board to make this a very open
and participatory process,” said Bob Martini, Nicolet trustee and member of the
selection committee. “The input we received from throughout the district was
invaluable and reaffirms just how important the college is to life in northern
Wisconsin, and how deeply so many care about its future direction.”