CWU News

CWU Board of Trustees Approves Robert Nellams as New Chairman

The Central Washington University Board of Trustees voted unanimously last week to appoint Robert Nellams as its new chair.

The 1982 CWU College of Business alum began his six-year term on the Board of Trustees in 2015 and previously served as vice chair under outgoing BOT president Ronald Erickson. Nellams said he is honored to receive the nomination, and he plans to use the opportunity to make his alma mater a better place for students.

“I am passionate about this place, and passionate about the opportunities we can make for kids,” he said during his July 29 acceptance speech. “That’s what this is about, and that’s what I hope we can do here.”

Aside from his role on the BOT, Nellams is the director of the Seattle Center, where he manages a staff of 240 full-time employees and more than 650 intermittent staff. He also is the former chair of the CWU Foundation Board, and he has brought that expertise to the BOT governing board as a member of its finance committee.

In addition, Nellams has been an active member of the Breakfast Group, a Seattle-based nonprofit service organization devoted to mentoring African-American and other low-income and at-risk young men of color. He currently serves on the group’s board of directors as chair of the fundraising committee.

When looking back at what he has accomplished thus far in his career, Nellams always remembers his time at Central as being instrumental in his development. Now, he wants to help give today’s young people those same opportunities.

“I have a foundation of my family and, on top of that, I have a foundation of what I learned at CWU,” Nellams said. “Those two things have helped me become who and what I am, and I would love for other people to have a similar type of experience.”

The BOT also voted last week to install Ray Conner, former vice chairman for The Boeing Co., as its new vice chair. Conner graduated from CWU in 1979 and joined the BOT in 2018.

Conner worked for Boeing for more than 40 years, starting out as a mechanic and steadily climbing through the ranks of company leadership to become vice chairman of the Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Like Nellams, he remembers his time at Central with great pride, and he looks forward to assuming his new role as BOT vice chair.

“I attribute much of my success to hard work, preparation and leadership—all characteristics that I honed during my time at CWU,” said Conner, a 2010 Distinguished Alumnus. “One of the best ways I can give back is to provide students with the same opportunity as me.”

Media contact: Kremiere Jackson, Vice President of Public Affairs, 509-963-1425,