SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen announced his retirement in a video shared by the university on Wednesday. His last day on the job will be July 1, 2023.

“It’s been a great ride,” Nelsen said in his announcement. “It’s been a ride because of you. But now, really July 1, it’s time to ‘hang ’em up.’ It’s time to move on.” 

Nelsen’s retirement will end seven years as president at Sacramento State. He became the university’s eighth president on July 1, 2015, succeeding Alexander Gonzalez, according to the university.

The university said in a news release that Nelsen’s replacement will be named after a nationwide search. 

During his over-seven-minute video announcement, Nelsen said the university became “stronger and better,” during his time at the university, mentioning the school’s facilities that were either built or renovated. 

“We have the Tschannen Science Complex, we are going to have a new engineering building, and the Student Union has an additional 77,000 square feet,” Nelsen said. “The WELL has been expanded, especially for mental health. And, we can’t forget the arts. The Art Sculpture Lab is just about to begin to be built.”

Nelsen also mentions the school’s graduation rates during his time at the university, saying they improved to 187% in his seven-year run. He praised the university’s faculty, saying the graduation rates wouldn’t have happened without them. 

“When I came, I also said that our graduation rates sucked. Well, they don’t suck anymore,” Nelsen said. “We raised our graduation rate, our four-year rate by 187%, and, our transfer rates are way above what our goal was.” 

Prior to becoming Sacramento State’s president, Nelsen, 70, was the president of the University of Texas-Pan American from 2010 to 2014. During his time at UT-Pan American, he served as the special advisor to the University of Texas system’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. 

His academic career also includes being an English professor and an associate vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. 

“We love Sac State and Sacramento,” Nelsen’s wife Jody Nelsen said in the announcement video. “Everyone was so welcoming, and then so supportive through thick and thin. I can’t begin to express my gratitude enough.” 

Following Robert Nelsen’s announcement, Sacramento Congresswoman Doris Matsui issued a statement about his retirement. 

Robert Nelsen has brought visionary leadership to Sac State, invigorating the campus with his unyielding positivity and dedication to the students and staff. Robert used his wealth of knowledge and expertise to lift up our students, open doors of opportunity, and foster a safe, welcoming learning environment for all. He has transformed the campus and made it his mission to ensure students have the resources to succeed both in and out of the classroom. Robert has been a wonderful partner here in Sacramento — we have worked together on many projects, and I am fortunate enough to call him a good friend. His work has been truly life changing, and Sacramento will continue to benefit from his impact and all the students who become our future leaders and innovators. I know he will continue to create positive change wherever his future endeavors take him, and I thank him for everything he has done for our great region.

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento