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Builders of Bellevue University: Cliff Nelsen Hands-on Leadership and Involvement When It Really Counted

Builders of Bellevue University: Across the Years and Generations

By Bill Wax

In celebration of Bellevue University’s 50th Anniversary, we take time to recognize the many individuals and organizations that have helped to build it into Nebraska’s largest private college or university. The late C. Clifton Nelsen, a long-time Board member, helped improve campus facilities and steer a successful path for Bellevue College to become Bellevue University in 1994. His son, Andrew “Andy” Nelsen, continues that legacy on the Board.

Cliff Nelsen: Hands-on Leadership and Involvement When It Really Counted

Cliff Nelsen When C. Clifton “Cliff” Nelsen was asked to join the Board of Directors in 1973, his first inclination was to decline. “I had served on perhaps 25 or 30 boards in my lifetime and swore I would never serve on another one, yet I did,” Nelsen recalled years later, saying he accepted, because “…the potential of this college was a challenge.” Nelsen was longtime President of Omaha-based A.C. Nelsen RV World, a company which was founded by his father, A.C. Nelsen, in 1919. Today it has operations in three Midwestern states and lays claim to being “The oldest RV dealership in the world.”

Cliff Nelsen served on multiple committees during his time on the University’s Board of Directors and was part of the search committee that hired John B. Muller as President of the College in 1985.  His most enjoyable committee assignment was the Buildings and Grounds Committee, which he chaired for several years. “Being a realist and liking the tangible rather than the intangible, I think that (Buildings and Grounds) is what I am best suited to do,” he said. A new Student Center, the Dennis Learning Center and expansion of the Lozier Athletic Center were completed during his time on the committee. The original Science Center and Computer Center on the main campus was named for Cliff’s father, A.C. Nelsen.

Andrew Nelsen Clifton NelsenFor his leadership, support, and service to the University and many other beneficial organizations in the community and beyond, Cliff Nelsen was presented an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree in 1986. Nelsen, who died in 2002, was inducted into the Recreational Vehicle/Manufactured Housing Hall of Fame, located near Elkhart, Indiana.

Andrew C. “Andy” Nelsen is President of A.C. Nelsen Enterprises, Inc. and Arrow Distributing, Inc. He has served on the Bellevue University Board of Directors since 1997. He also is a Bellevue University alumnus, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1981 followed by a master’s degree 1994.