Robert Nelsen, who has served as president of the University of Texas-Pan American since 2010, announced Monday that he will be stepping down effective Aug. 31.
UTPA, based in Edinburg, will soon be merged with the University of Texas at Brownsville to create the new University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, which is expected to officially open its doors in 2015.
Nelsen was a finalist for the presidency of UTRGV, but the University of Texas System Board of Regents ultimately went with Guy Bailey, a former president of Texas Tech University.
"No chancellor could be more proud of what President Nelsen has accomplished at UT Pan American. His work at UTPA has been stellar and, in addition, his dedication to making UT Rio Grande Valley a reality is inspirational," UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said in a statement.
In an email that was sent to faculty, staff and students on Monday, Nelsen said an interim president would take his place until the new university is created and Bailey takes over.
"I know this additional step was not part of the original plan," he said, "but sometimes plans have to change for the better of the whole."
Here is Nelsen's full message:
SUBJECT: What’s Next For This Cowboy?
I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity presented to me to serve as the president of UT Pan American. I love the students, the faculty, and the staff of this great University, and I especially love the Rio Grande Valley. That’s what makes this email so difficult to write.
I will be stepping down from the presidency effective August 31 of this year at which time an ad interim president will take my place until the new university—UTRGV—is officially sanctioned into being in August of 2015. I know this additional step was not part of the original plan, but sometimes plans have to change for the better of the whole.
There are big things ahead for everyone, dreams to be fulfilled, mountains to be climbed, and battles yet to be won. And I know you will give Dr. Guy Bailey your support, as you have given it to me. There is much work yet to be done for the sake of the Valley, for our students, and to maintain the excellence that we have achieved.
What is next for this cowboy? I’m not sure yet — maybe Jody and I really will join the rodeo. But no ride will ever be as satisfying and fulfilling as my time here at Pan Am has been.
Gracias por todo. Somos familia. Siempre serán mi familia.