Former Marshall president dies at age 90
HUNTINGTON — Former Marshall University President Roland Hill Nelson Jr. died March 21 in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the age of 90.
Nelson served Marshall from the fall of 1968 until July 1970, when he resigned to take a faculty position at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he remained until 1985.
“The Marshall University community is saddened to hear of former President Nelson’s passing. He led the university for nearly two years during the late 1960s. We are forever grateful for his guidance and extend our sympathy to his family,” said Leah Payne, director of communications for the university.
Nelson was the university’s eighth president, serving campus during a time of collegiate unrest resulting from the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement.
Nelson was born July 28, 1928, in Maryland. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University, a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and an education doctorate from Harvard University.
In the middle of his higher education, Nelson served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War.
After his military service, he taught elementary school in Albemarle County, Virginia, while he also resumed his graduate work. He was handpicked from Harvard to serve as headmaster of Metairie Park Country Day School in Louisiana.
In 1961 he accepted the position as assistant dean of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, where he remained until 1965. That year he took a job as the dean of Department of Education at Duke University, remaining until 1968 when he became the president of the Richmond Professional Institute at Richmond, Virginia.
Nelson left the Richmond Professional Institute while it was in the process of merging with the Medical College of Virginia to become Virginia Commonwealth University and accepted the president position at Marshall.
Nelson chose to donate his body to medical research at Duke University Medical Center. A memorial service will be held April 13 in Greensboro.