Mark E. Nelson was hired as a full-time Drama faculty member in September 1977, and in six years achieved the rank of Full Professor. He retired in December 2011, after 34 years of dedicated service. Upon his retirement, he was granted Emeritus status, and remained on the faculty in a part-time position teaching an online class until 2016.
During his long tenure, Mark and designed over ninety stage settings for over fifteen different faculty directors. He directed more than a dozen main stage productions, and directed three Summerfest musicals. He was the theatre instructor for the Survey of the Arts Class, teaching the class with a variety of other Art and Music instructors for over 30 years. He was actively involved with his colleagues Fred Alim and Dr. Gary Smith in creating the student-directed One Acts Program / Class for beginning directors and actors and producers.
Mark’s curriculum development work with colleagues on the Theatre curriculum resulted in a tripling of class offerings and theatre student enrollment. He re-created TD-109 Theatre of Today into the department’s first online class, as well as initiating several hybrid courses and online websites to support existing Theatre Classes. He developed TD-102 Theatre Appreciation, a unique local travel class, and subsequently built a section of that class into the annual travel excursion to New York City.
Along with Craig Jackson, Ohlone’s first Drama faculty member, Mark was involved in the initial visions for a new fine and performing arts facility. After Craig’s untimely death, Mark became the primary faculty lead on the theatrical design aspects and oversight of the new facility. He was specifically responsible for designing and guiding the arrangement of stages, technical spaces, and shop areas. The new Smith Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Center, which opened in 1995 with the main theatre named in honor of Craig Jackson.
Mark was very active in service outside the classroom. He served as faculty advisor to the Theatre Guild Club for over 25 years, promoting local theatre attendance and field trips to San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as the Annual Theatre Guild Banquet and Awards Ceremony. He worked for 15 years with Craig Jackson, as co-faculty liaison to the Theatre Patrons Association headed by Alicia Marsella. Mark was the faculty advisor to Ohlone College’s GSA, the Gay / Straight Alliance Club, offering a safe and friendly space for students with gender and family issues for twenty years. He also served on countless hiring committees, the sabbatical committee, and the curriculum committee.