Nelsen Named President of UT Pan American

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents today (Nov. 11) appointed Robert S. Nelsen president of The University of Texas – Pan American.

The board had named Nelsen, currently the associate vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, as the sole finalist on Oct. 12.

Nelsen will assume the president’s position effective Jan. 1. He succeeds Dr. Blandina Cárdenas, who stepped down from the position last January. Charles A. Sorber has been serving as interim president since Feb. 16, and will work closely with Dr. Nelsen as he transitions into the presidency.  

"Dr. Nelsen possesses the administrative skills and experience necessary for this position and we are confident he will advance excellence at this important institution," said Regents’ Chairman James R. Huffines. "We would also like to thank Charles Sorber, a veteran academician and administrator who has now successfully served as the chief administrative officer of three University of Texas System academic institutions, for his service to UTPA and the UT System.”

“UTPA plays a critical role in providing higher education opportunities and economic vitality to the Rio Grande Valley. I am confident that Dr. Nelsen has the strong leadership skills necessary to make this institution an even more vibrant resource for the region and state," UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., said.

Before becoming associate vice president at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Nelsen served as associate provost and vice provost at UT Dallas. He has held numerous faculty appointments in literature at UT Dallas and at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen to serve the students, staff, and faculty at the University of Texas – Pan American and the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley,” Dr. Nelsen said. “I firmly believe a saying that I have heard several times in my recent trips to the Valley: ‘As South Texas goes, so goes Texas and the Nation.’

"UT Pan American has become and will continue to be a leading force for growth, economic development, and progress in the Valley. The University’s students are superb as are the faculty and staff. Together, we will work hand in hand with industry and business leaders, educators both at the community college and independent school district levels, and local, state, and national elected officials to ensure the future of the Valley and especially the future of our youth,” Nelsen added.

Nelsen earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and his doctoral degree from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

About The University of Texas – Pan American
The University of Texas – Pan American is in the middle of one of the fastest growing areas in the nation, the southern tip of Texas known as the Rio Grande Valley. UTPA is located in Edinburg, Texas, approximately 10 miles north of the US/Mexico border and 75 miles northwest of South Padre Island. UTPA provides program specific classes in Rio Grande City, McAllen and South Padre Island in addition to those offered through the online learning center.  Since its inception in 1927, The University of Texas-Pan American has conferred over 2,600 associate's, 50,000 bachelor's, 10,600 master's and 100 doctoral degrees.  UTPA provides an affordable education and global opportunities with a choice of 57 bachelor's, 57 master's, three doctoral, and two cooperative doctoral programs within six colleges.

About The University of Texas System
Serving the educational and health care needs of Texans for more than 125 years, The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion (FY 2010) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2008 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's healthcare professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.