ROHNERT PARK — Mark Nelson, former president and chief operating officer of the Nelson Family of Companies, has been selected for a newly created “entrepreneur-in-residence” position at the Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics, according to an announcement today.

In that role, Mr. Nelson will work to develop and support new entrepreneurial initiatives at the business school and further its role in what business school Dean William Silver has described as the “educational nucleus” of a strong North Bay economy.

[caption id="attachment_68874" align="alignright" width="284"] Mark Nelson[/caption]

The new position, known officially as the Hugh Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence, was made possible by a $180,000 gift to Sonoma State from Codding Enterprises in February 2012. A search committee was formed to interview candidates in the subsequent months, with the announcement crediting Mr. Nelson’s business experience and connections as an asset in helping to launch new entrepreneurial ventures from Sonoma State.

Much of Mr. Nelson's work will involve mentorship of students, both current and alumni, who are seeking to launch ventures in areas like mobile app development, new wine brands and innovations in health care and education, Dr. Silver said.

His role will also support the formation of new programs at the school, which recently have included a new Creative Arts and Digital Media Certificate Program made possible through a grant by the Green Music Center Board of Advisers and a social media platform to support a new student entrepreneurship society,

"One of the things I am most looking forward to in working with Mark is not only the fact that he brings content expertise to help us with these initiatives, but that he can help us learn how to think and work more entrepreneurially in the way we run our university," Dr. Silver said.

Named president and chief operating officer in 1995, Mr. Nelson helped the Nelson Family of Companies grow annual revenue from $56 million to nearly $400 million at the end of 2007. He launched a business capital, advising and consulting firm, The Mark Nelson Group, in 2009.

A California certified public accountant, Mr. Nelson graduated from the University of San Francisco with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He has completed further certifications in strategic information technology implementation at Stanford University.