Chris Nelson has served as the head of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) since January 2019 following the previous Dean’s retirement. An Associate Professor, Dr. Nelson earned his doctorate in English from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2002 and served as Graduate Director of UND’s PhD and MA programs in English for 6 years. Beginning as an SGS Faculty Fellow in 2017, Dr. Nelson has developed and implemented: annual 3MT competitions and Graduate Research Achievement Day (GRAD), an extensive graduate student professional development workshop series, entrance/exit surveys and data dashboards, and innovative degree structures leading to 25 Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s and 6 Professional Science Master’s.
Under Dr. Nelson’s leadership, UND’s SGS has thrived, with record-setting graduate enrollment. He has worked to build a culture of support for graduate students with attention to mental health, diversity and inclusion, and mentoring best practices. Dr. Nelson has raised UND’s national profile through his work with the Council of Graduate Schools and to secure UND’s participation in the first wave of 10 institutions implementing the award-winning Accelerate to Industry (A2i) initiative to prepare graduate students for professional careers. He created strong relationships with city and state governments and over 20 local and national employers, placed multiple interns, and secured funding partners. Dr. Nelson has also played a significant role in advancing research by writing grants, stakeholder reports, and white papers, especially in UND’s signature areas of national security and autonomous systems. Dr. Nelson is a passionate advocate for graduate students and graduate education who is committed to continuing to grow the SGS as a driver of UND’s excellence and impact as a leading flagship research university.