Right move, right time: Ken Nelson enjoyed career in higher education

Title: Associate professor, Department of Educational Administration
Years at UNK: 19
Family: Wife, Julie; Children, Jamie Hestermann of Syracuse and Brock Nelson of Phoenix, Arizona; Grandchildren, Addison (deceased), Isaac, 12, Tripp, 10, and Landry, 7.
Hobbies/Interests: I love spectator sports, especially the Lopers and Huskers. I also enjoy spending time at our lake home near Ashland with friends and family.

Three words that describe your personality?
This was hard to answer, so I asked my daughter. She described my personality as outgoing, caring and creative. Not sure how accurate that is.

Share something about yourself that few people know:
I was a 95-pound football player my freshman year in high school. I have grown.

What do you like most about your job?
I have a passion for first-year administrators. My focus is to prepare students who acquire an administrative position. I teach mainly school law and finance. I have taught over 900 students in law, both teachers and administrators. I take great pride in helping students understand the law.

Biggest change you’ve seen at UNK since you started?
The obvious one for our department is the move to online courses. In my own mind, I was opposed to teaching online, but like my fellow instructors in the EDAD program, we jumped in full steam. We have learned so much about effective instruction via the internet.

Best business/work/career advice you received?
If you care about people, they will care for you and what you are teaching.

Who gave it to you?
I received that advice from Dr. Kent Estes, my former college roommate and professor in the counseling department at UNK. Dr. Jim Ossian talked me into moving to UNK.

What is your favorite thing about UNK?
The friendly atmosphere and the commitment to learning.

Where is your favorite place to visit on campus?
Actually, the College of Education building.

Biggest challenge you faced in your time at UNK?
The conversion to online classes. It was difficult at first and much more time-consuming for an instructor.

What qualities make someone successful in your position?
Hard work, persistence, passion and experience are all important. In my particular position as an instructor in the EDAD program, my previous experience as a teacher, counselor, principal and superintendent put me in a position to understand the issues, frustrations and opportunities for both teachers and administrators.

How do you measure success in your career?
The impact you have had on former students’ lives.

Tell me about a time in your UNK career when you worked the hardest:
It was when we went to online instruction. Much more time-consuming if you do it right.

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
There is very little that I would do differently. The move from school superintendent to college professor was the right move at the right time. I really enjoyed everything about my move to higher education. This year marks my 52nd in education.

What is your fondest memory of UNK?
I will always appreciate the friendships I made at UNK. Instructors work so hard to help their students be successful. A very fond memory for me is a group of professors who would go out to lunch each Thursday. Those are friends for life. I really enjoyed the people I worked with at UNK.