William “Bill” R. Nelson, director of the Iowa Memorial Union and the University of Iowa Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (CSIL), is the recipient of the 2015 Lola Lopes Award for Undergraduate Student Advocacy.
The award recognizes administrators, staff, or faculty who serve as strong and effective advocates for undergraduate students and the undergraduate experience. Recipients are selected by a committee of staff, faculty, and a student.
Nelson has been an energetic champion for the development of several key student leadership experiences on campus, among them the President’s Leadership Class, LeaderShape, TEDx-UIowa, and Alternative Break Service Program. The latter is quickly becoming a national model for integrative service learning. He also collaborated with colleagues across campus to help establish the Leadership Certificate program, which provides students with hands-on experiences to develop their leadership skills.
Nelson’s personal leadership legacy is evident in his work with Dance Marathon, where his active role in chairing the Allocations Committee has helped to make the organization more effective, successful, and well known. By advocating for strong student involvement on the committee, Nelson has helped students learn to be responsible stewards of Dance Marathon funds and has also given them an additional opportunity to appreciate the direct impact of their work and dedication.
As a mentor, Nelson’s goal is to help students grow to become more confident in themselves and their abilities. He has worked with students in the fraternity and sorority community throughout his career, and is well respected locally and nationally. In his capacity as adviser to the UI Student Government (UISG) and Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG), Nelson has strengthened collaboration between them, as well as between student government and faculty and staff governance groups.
One former student advisee describes Nelson as “a compassionate mentor who works tirelessly to improve the undergraduate experience and makes sure that every student has a chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience while at the university.”
Nelson will receive a $1,000 honorarium and a certificate, and his name will be added to a plaque that will be displayed in the Admission Visitors Center.
The award is named in honor of Lola L. Lopes, former associate provost for undergraduate education and professor emerita of management and organizations in the Tippie College of Business. Lopes served as interim executive vice president and provost during 2007-08.