Robert S. Nelsen Scholarship in Creative Writing

In 2008, UT Dallas established the Robert S. Nelsen Scholarship in Creative Writing endowment to honor former Vice Provost Robert Nelsen's decades of service to UT Dallas students and staff. Endowment funds will provide scholarship support based on financial need or academic merit to full- or part-time, degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in the School of Arts and Humanities. Recipients must have a dedication and passion for creative writing. Additionally, scholarship awardees will receive a biographical summary about Nelsen, written by Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president and provost at UT Dallas.

A popular leader of the University's creative writing program, Nelsen was named the 2004-05 UT Dallas Teacher of the Year. He joined UT Dallas in 1990 as an assistant professor of literary studies in the School of Arts and Humanities. After serving as head of the highly successful creative writing program, Nelsen stepped down in 2006 after being named associate provost and later vice provost. Throughout his tenure with UT Dallas, he continued to teach at least one course per semester.

Nelsen published extensively throughout his academic career. His work appeared in journals such as StoryQuarterly, Other Voices, Chariton Review and Southwest Review. He also finished a novel, Spirits Colliding. Nelsen wrote his first story, "A White Horse," at age 5. From 1992 to 1999, he served as executive editor of Common Knowledge, an interdisciplinary journal published by the Oxford University Press.

Application Form

Nominees must complete the application form and submit it to Dr. John Gooch, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Gooch, at [email protected] by October 5, 2017


Robert S. Nelsen joined The University of Texas at Dallas in 1990, after graduating in 1989 with the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Chicago, having studied with Stephen Toulmin, Wayne Booth, and A. K. Ramanujan of Chicago's world famous Committee on Social Thought, majoring in Modern Literature, Modern Philosophy, and Modern Political Theory. Growing up on a ranch in the Madison Valley just west of Yellowstone National Park, Dr. Nelsen received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from Brigham Young University. From the multi-dimensional creative and intellectual environment of the Committee on Social Thought, Dr. Nelsen progressively focused his energies on creative writing. His faculty career at UT Dallas has been notable in every dimension. In the first part of the 1990's, in addition to embarking on an outstanding career of teacher and mentor, he and senior colleague Jeffrey Perl edited and published a path-breaking journal of intellectual opinion and enquiry, Common Knowledge, that deservedly earned a distinguished international reputation.

In the latter part of the 1990's and the first several years of the 21st century, in addition to directing the Creative Program, Robert served in leadership positions in faculty governance, at UT Dallas, and then also at the level of the U. T. System and the State of Texas. His strength of character, his selfless dedication to the welfare of his students and the university, and his transparent honesty gained him the highest level of trust both among his UT Dallas faculty and administrative colleagues and from the leadership of the U. T. System and State of Texas educational organizations. At UT Dallas, he served as Senator, as Secretary of the Faculty, as Speaker of the Faculty for two separate terms, as faculty representative on the Presidential Search Committee of 2003-2005, and as co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. In Austin, he served on many state-wide committees of the U. T. System and of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; and, most prominently, served as Chair of the U. T. System Faculty Advisory Committee.

His creative and teaching contributions continued unabated along with these multiple service contributions, and his commitment to his students and his charismatic teaching earned Dr. Nelsen the Chancellor's Council Award for Outstanding Teaching for 2004-05. In 2006 his unique talents and achievements as a faculty member, and his consequent stature among his colleagues, led to a request that he join UT Dallas's central academic administration as Associate Provost. In this role, and later as Vice Provost, he has led with great success UT Dallas's reaffirmation process with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and has concurrently led the process of creating proposals for new academic programs and securing their approval at the state level. His accomplishments as an academic administrator have been immensely valuable to the present and future of UT Dallas, and his contributions as teacher and leader are an outstanding and indelible part of UT Dallas's history.


Click here for Financial Aid available to Graduate Students.

Additional Financial Aid is available through the UT Dallas Financial Aid Office.