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J. Russell Nelson

Fourteenth President
1981 - 1989

J. Russell Nelson served as ASU's president from 1981 to 1989. He believed that the educational mission was the most important part of the university, and that everything else was subordinate to that, including athletics. Although his administration was marked by disharmony with the athletic department, he worked to make athletics a source of pride for the university. One of Nelson's goals was to make ASU a multi-campus institution. He met this goal with the establishment of ASU West in 1983, which brought education to western Maricopa County. Student enrollment also increased from 37,000 to 40,500 students under Nelson's tenure. Nelson brought a new focus to computer-assisted learning and research within the university, and provided computer literacy training for the community. In the Spring of 1988, ASU completed its most successful fund-raising campaign to date, surpassing its original $75 million goal. Research grants doubled during Nelson's tenure, positioning ASU to be recognized as a major research university.