Dean Raymond J. Nelson Receives U.Va.'s Highest Honor
Oct. 22, 1999 -- Raymond J. Nelson, professor
of English and former dean of Arts
and Sciences at the University of Virginia, received U.Va.'s
highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, at Fall
Convocation ceremonies today.
annually since 1955, the award honors a member of the University
community who exemplifies in character, work and influence the principles
and ideals of the University's founder.
Ray Nelson's tenure as dean of the College and Graduate School of
Arts and Sciences, he became one of the most effective deans in
our history. He brought integrity and good sense to the job. The
departments under his leadership experienced an unprecedented rise
in stature," said University President John T. Casteen III.
effectiveness came from a combination of factors -- a straightforward
and ethical management style, a keen ability to assess strengths
and weaknesses, and the enormous respect of his colleagues on the
faculty. Ray Nelson has set a high standard."
served as dean of Arts and Sciences from 1989 to 1997. A popular
American literature scholar, he holds the Arts and Sciences Professorship
leadership during an era of financial austerity is credited with
helping keep Virginia among a select few top universities strongly
committed to both excellent undergraduate education and world-class
his period as dean Nelson continued to teach English and American
literature, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He is
author of "Van Wyck Brooks: A Writer's Life" and "Kenneth Patchen
and American Mysticism," which won the Poetry Society of America's
prestigious Melville Cane Award as the best critical book of 1984
on American poetry. He has written numerous scholarly articles on
American writers, including Herman Melville, Chester Himes, Weldon
Kees and, most recently, Melvin Tolson.
joined U.Va.'s faculty in 1969 after receiving his doctorate from
Stanford University and served as associate chair of the English
department from 1981 to 1984. He began leading Arts and Sciences
in 1989 as Dean of the Faculty, a position that was consolidated
to include deanships of the College and Graduate School of Arts
and Sciences in 1995.
five years ago, Nelson began making photomicrographs -- photos of
magnified images of microscopic objects. A number of his works have
appeared in a calendar Nikon publishes of award-winning entries
from its annual contest, A Small World.
Katherine Jackson, (804) 924-3629