Robert O. Nelson

Rob Nelson is an advisor and consultant to public and private clients for higher education finance, policy, and strategic planning. In 2015-16, Rob helped the President of Guilford College balance the budget and restore the institution’s financial infrastructure. He also served as staff to a debt management study committee of the Board of Trustees, allowing Guilford to achieve an investment grade rating from Standard & Poor’s. In 2017, he assisted Anne Ponder Associates in the development and implementation of a strategic plan for the Appalachian College Association. Previously, Rob has led efforts to finance, plan, obtain necessary approvals, and construct new student centers and residence halls at Fayetteville State, North Carolina Central, and NC A&T State. He assisted UNC Asheville in successfully completing a major land acquisition initiative, as well as leading a major signage project there, working closely with university officials and the City of Asheville.

Rob’s long and successful career in higher education and state government makes him uniquely qualified to assist colleges and universities in strategic financial and capital planning. With 21 years of experience in the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management and 10 years with the University of North Carolina System, Rob has been a leader for hundreds of projects from inception through completion. He led the UNC System’s $2.5B tax-supported capital program from beginning to end as well as completing an additional construction program totaling $2B from non-state sources for housing, dining, student services, and athletic facilities.

While serving as Vice President for Finance of the University of North Carolina System under UNC President Erskine Bowles, Rob Nelson successfully navigated the challenges of leading the financial operations of North Carolina’s sixteen public baccalaureate degree-granting institutions, with over $7B in annual expenditures, giving him insight into strategic options available to higher education to balance the synergy of a campus’s recurring operating funds with its capital needs funded from non-recurring funds.