Rex Nelson, 53, of Little Rock was named president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities, an association of the state’s private accredited institutions of higher education in January 2011. Prior to that he served since June 2009 as the senior vice president for government relations and public outreach at The Communications Group, a Little-Rock based marketing, advertising and public relations firm. Prior to that, he spent 13 years in government. He became Gov. Mike Huckabee’s director of policy and communications when Huckabee took office in July 1996 and was a member of the governor’s senior management team for more than nine years. Nelson was named by President George W. Bush in 2005 as one of the president’s two appointees to the Delta Regional Authority, a regional planning and economic development agency that serves 252 counties and parishes in parts of eight states. He served at the DRA for almost four years and became a leading spokesman on Delta issues.
Nelson had a long career in journalism prior to entering government service. He was the political editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette during President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign and Clinton’s first term. He earlier had served as the Washington bureau chief and the assistant sports editor of the Arkansas Democrat. Nelson still writes a weekly column for the Democrat-Gazette and authors a blog known as Rex Nelson’s Southern Fried.
Nelson is an Arkadelphia native and a summa cum laude graduate of Ouachita.
“Those who know me know that I have a passion for Arkansas,” Nelson said. “Nothing is more important to the future of our state than increasing the percentage of the population with college degrees. The 11 institutions represented by AICU play a vital role in improving Arkansas. I’m proud to be a graduate of an AICU institution and look forward to working with Kearney as we ensure that Arkansans understand the importance of private higher education.”