David P. Nelson, Ph.D.


Hedrick Administration Building


Dr. David P. Nelson is the 24th President of Catawba College.

President Nelson

The Catawba College Board of Trustees elected Dr. David P. Nelson as its 24th President on March 11, 2020. 

Dr. Nelson brings strong academic experience and executive leadership to the Catawba presidency as the College focuses on its future through sustainable growth and engaging curricular and co-curricular experiences.

Dr. Nelson's diverse background includes demonstrating strategic and organizational success, fulfilling community engagement within and outside the College, and transformative and collaborative vision.

A first-generation college student, Dr. Nelson received his Ph.D. in Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Master of Music and Bachelor of Music from Hardin-Simmons University. Throughout his administrative career, he has remained active in the classroom, teaching courses in religious studies, philosophy, and music.

Dr. Nelson is married to Kimberly Nelson, and his three children and three grandchildren reside in North Carolina and Texas. 


"Catawba is a vibrant learning community that prepares students for meaningful life and work," says Dr. Nelson. "While the next few years may look different than any of us would have imagined just a matter of weeks ago, I am confident that the extraordinary people at Catawba along with the Salisbury/Rowan community will meet the extraordinary challenges ahead of us with energy, creativity, and resolve. I am eager to join in that work."

- Dr. David P. Nelson President of Catawba College