Who Is Bruce K. Nelson?

Bruce K. Nelson wearing a blue shirt in front of a blue background.
 Bruce K. Nelson
Bruce K. Nelson wearing a blue shirt in front of a blue background.

 Bruce K. Nelson

Bruce Kern Nelson (1915–2017) began a long and distinguished career of services at Eastern Michigan University in 1954.

He was the director of the EMU lab school and superintendent of Lincoln Schools. He quickly assumed the role of Vice President for Instruction (equivalent to the current Provost position) and served in that capacity for 21 years. During this time, Dr. Nelson played a major role in shaping the academic structure of the University and helped facilitate the creation of the College of Education. He was responsible for registration, advising, and developing expanded class offerings to make more classes available for students.

Dr. Nelson also shepherded the building of the then "new" library, which has now been transformed into the Porter Building. In 1975, Dr. Nelson returned to his professorship in the Department of Educational Leadership. He retired in 1981.

In tribute to Dr. Nelson's work and in particular his devotion to the needs of faculty, the Faculty Development Center was renamed "The Bruce K. Nelson Faculty Development Center" at a large and successful celebration of Dr. Nelson's life and work in March 2005. The funds raised in connection with this event have provided for a renovation of the space that the center occupies in the Halle Library. The renovation makes it possible to provide small group technology instruction, flexible seating for small group meetings, and a quiet study/reading area for faculty. The EMU Foundation, a large number of emeritus faculty, and the Provost's Office have graciously made this renovation possible.

At the age of 101, Dr. Nelson passed away peacefully in his sleep on September, 22nd 2017.  Read additional information about Bruce's rich and full life in his obituary.

We are pleased to share two of Dr. Nelson's most memorable and meaningful speeches. The first, from 1960, has been shared with countless teachers, principals, and administrators. As Dr. Nelson's son, Dr. Scott B. Nelson, has shared with us, many people are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel in education. His father's remarks leave us much to think about all these years later. The second speech was offered to the 1970 graduating class of Ypsilanti High School, of which Scott was a member, and was also shared by Scott at a YHS reunion in the summer of 2022.

 Click here for Dr. Nelson's 1960 speech.

Click here for Dr. Nelson's 1970 YHS commencement address.

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