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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 14, 2003

William Nelson Is New Director Of UI Office Of Student Life

For William Nelson, higher education is more than just his career, it's been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. His mother, Beverly Nelson, was a teacher and long-time vice president at Iowa Valley Community College in Marshalltown, as well as a member of the state legislature for six years.

"Higher education put food on our table, but it was more than that," said Nelson, the new director of the Office of Student Life at the University of Iowa. "It really was a bedrock part of the foundation of my life."

So it made sense that he went into higher education administration shortly after he graduated from Iowa State University in 1984. He would go on to earn his master's degree from ISU, then begin a career in student life and student services that would take him to Western Illinois University and the University of Kansas before returning to Iowa. He received his Ph.D in education from Iowa State, and also worked as a researcher and analyst for the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

He started his new position at the UI on Nov. 3, replacing Alice Mathis, who left earlier this year for Florida A&M University.

Nelson said one of his top priorities in his new position will be assessing the impact of the current programs offered by the UI's Office of Student Life to ensure they provide the kind of outside-the-classroom educational opportunities that students need. Nelson points to research that shows students who are more involved in campus activities tend to have a more positive college experience, and student life programs provide one avenue for students to take part in those activities.

"It's more than just putting on cool programs for people to go to," said Nelson. "We have to make sure they are educationally purposeful programs, and we have to assess them in terms of our budget, the changing needs of students and the priorities of the university. We need to know if we're making an impact and achieving our priorities."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,