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Pioneering educator Nelson exits retirement to become JSU’s interim provost

Ivory Nelson

Longtime academician Dr. Ivory V. Nelson, a three-time university president and one-time community college chancellor, has assumed the role of interim provost at Jackson State University.

The native of Shreveport, La., had retired in 2011, but was asked to return by new JSU President William B. Bynum Jr.

In 2000, Nelson, then the 12th president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (1999-2011), hired Bynum as his vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. He worked for Nelson for 9 years, said Nelson, 83.

Nelson was part of a review team for JSU’s re-accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education in the 1970s and was among finalists for the presidency when Dr. James Hefner was ultimately selected in 1984.

Nelson previously was the first black president of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., from 1992 to 1999, and later president emeritus. During the early 1980s, he was acting president of Prairie View A&M University for nine months.

A chemist and pioneering figure, Nelson began working in higher education in 1963. He’s known for other groundbreaking firsts. Among these include:

• First male graduate from Grambling State University to receive a Ph.D. (He graduated from Grambling in 1959 and received his doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Kansas, where he was the first black graduate from UK to receive such a degree in 1963)
• First African-American to become chancellor of the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Texas (1986)
• First black chemistry Ph.D. graduate to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Kansas (1964)
• First African-American to become executive assistant to the chancellor of Texas A&M University System (1983)

Aside from working at Prairie View for 14 years, he spent three years at Southern University at Shreveport as chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences.

Also, Nelson is distinguished as a Fulbright scholar, recipient of a Phi Beta Kappa key and has published more than 12 technical articles on chemistry topics. As well, Nelson has been involved in numerous other fraternal organizations, including Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Nelson is also a U.S. Air Force veteran.

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