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Elmer K. Nelson, Jr.
Bachelor of Arts -1943 - Psychology
Master of Arts - 1949 - Psychology
JD - 1947
Elmer "Kim" Nelson served in the Army following his bachelor's degree, and taught psychology at UW while earning MA and Law degrees. In the early '50s, he started and headed the criminology program at the University of British Columbia, and was the first warden of Canada's most modern and experimental prison. His 35 years at the University of Southern California began in 1958. There he headed the Ford Foundation-funded Youth Studies Center and was Dean of the School of Public Administration.
He served as Deputy Administrator of California's Youth and Adult Corrections Agency, head of Lyndon Johnson's Crime Commission, and a U.S. delegate to the U.N. Conference on Crime. He's published extensively on organizational behavior and criminal justice. Elected to the National Academy of Public Administration in 1972, he is a 1975 UW Distinguished Alumnus. Currently USC professor emeritus, he is a criminal justice policy management consultant. His first graduation day was most poignant: "I was an Army private, finishing my third 12-hour day on KP, assigned 'pots and pans,' the lowest status job available. Another fellow and I had just finished heaving huge barrels of grease and slop into the truck of a local pig farmer, who cursed us for depriving his pigs by spilling large amounts on ourselves. Back at my station, I was handed a congratulatory telegram from my parents: this was my commencement day. Suddenly, I was taken back to Laramie. In a flood of memories and a great wave of nostalgia, I pictured the scene in the auditorium and on Prexy's Pasture, saw again my old friends and teachers. I realized how much it all meant, how I'd taken that place and those people for granted. For the first time I appreciated the benefits, not only of a college education, but of the special character of Wyoming and the University. I told the guy next to me that I'd gotten some soap in my eyes."