Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson reads to students in this March 2023 Facebook photo from The Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools
Written by Business Journal staff
Fresno Unified announced that after nearly seven years as superintendent, Bob Nelson is leaving the position, having accepted a tenure-track faculty position in the educational leadership division at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State.
Nelson will continue serving as the superintendent through July 31. Deputy Superintendent Misty Her is anticipated to be named interim superintendent if a permanent replacement hasn’t been selected at that time.
The news was first reported by GVWire Monday morning.
A Fresno Unified news release said the district “would be remiss not to acknowledge the unique luxury of stability it has enjoyed and will continue to enjoy through this transition. Over the last 20+ years Fresno Unified has had just two Superintendents, while the average large urban Superintendent tenure is just 30 months. The Fresno Unified Board of Education is taking this opportunity to plan and implement a careful and stable transition over the next six months.”
Nelson’s accomplishments include improving Fresno Unified’s fiscal strength and ratings, successfully averting two teacher strikes and demonstrating adept leadership during the challenges posed by the pandemic, according to the release. Under his leadership, he built the Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools, partnered in the development of the Bulldog Bound Guaranteed Admissions program, and passed and administered bond measures that have resulted in new and improved facilities support student learning across the district, including a new elementary school and the upcoming new Farber Campus replacing the old juvenile hall.
He was also commended for his commitment to career technical education, resulting in expansion of programs including a heavy truck maintenance facility and beginnings of an aviation school.
Nelson also pioneered a dual enrollment program with Benedict College, a Historically Black College or University in South Carolina — a first of its kind for Fresno Unified and likely the state of California.
“Serving as the Superintendent in the District where I initially taught elementary school and first served as a leader has been the pinnacle of my career thus far. I have appreciated so very much getting to know our Fresno Unified family and having the daily opportunity to serve our amazing city and its children. I am thankful to have the opportunity to land in a future position where I can continue serving Valley educators as well,” Nelson stated.
Fresno Unified Board President Susan Wittrup said: “I am grateful for Supt. Nelson’s leadership and the stability he brought to FUSD over the past 7 years. He is an exceptional educator and human being, and I look forward to the guidance he will bring to future educational leaders in his new role at Fresno State! His replacement has big shoes to fill. Supt. Nelson built a foundation of financial health and strong student supports that sets the stage for a district in need of transformation. Our next superintendent must be ready to infuse innovation, urgency, and accountability to improve instruction and academic outcomes for all of our students.”