Robert N. Shelton
Dr. Robert N. Shelton was named executive director of the Fiesta Bowl on June 13, 2011. He joined the bowl after serving as the 19th president of the University of Arizona since July 1, 2006. In his relatively brief tenure with the Fiesta Bowl, Dr. Shelton has worked to ensure that the Fiesta Bowl retains its elite status amid dramatic changes in college football’s postseason landscape. He also has helped re-establish public trust in the Arizona treasure.
A native of Phoenix, Dr. Shelton is a strong advocate of intercollegiate athletics and understands the valuable role it plays on campus. He was a member of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee which is integral to BCS governance and includes a university president or chancellor representing each Football Bowl Subdivision conference and the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Shelton, a physicist by training, has spent much of his career in public education, and he is no stranger to daunting challenges. In a letter to the University of Arizona community when he took office, Dr. Shelton said “even the greatest universities, enjoying the best of times, will encounter significant hurdles. It’s what makes them stronger over time.”
After arriving in Tucson, he helped the university become stronger by increasing diversity and ensuring the UA is accessible to Arizona students, particularly first-generation college students.
Dr. Shelton was educated at Stanford University (B.S., 1970) and the University of California, San Diego (M.S., 1973; Ph.D., 1975). He began his academic career at UCSD as an assistant research physicist in 1975. After moving to Iowa State University in 1978, he was promoted to associate professor in 1981 and professor in 1984.
He returned to California as chair of the Department of Physics at UC Davis in 1987 and served in that capacity until 1990 when he was named vice chancellor for research. In 1996, Dr. Shelton joined the President’s Office at the University of California as vice provost for research.
He matriculated to Arizona from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was executive vice chancellor and provost for five years, the chief academic officer and chief operating officer, and was responsible for the conduct, coordination and quality of the university’s academic and research programs.
Dr. Shelton was a guest scientist at the Kernforschungsanlage in Juelich, Germany, and of the Japanese government at the Institute of Metals in Tokyo. He also was a visiting professor in the Département de Physique de la Matière Condensée at the Université de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. He has been an active and productive scientist whose work has focused on collective electron effects in novel materials.
Under Dr. Shelton’s leadership at Arizona, a transformation plan was adopted to respond to the growing economic crisis affecting Arizona universities as well as other institutions across the nation. He also introduced Arizona Assurance, a program in which Arizona high school graduates from families with annual incomes under $42,400 can attend the UA and graduate with little or no debt. The funding for the program comes from donors.
Dr. Shelton was born on October 5, 1948. He and his wife of more than 40 years, Adrian A. Shelton, met as undergraduates at Stanford. They have three adult children: Christian Shelton, an associate professor of computer science at UC Riverside; Cameron Shelton, an assistant professor of economics at Claremont McKenna College; and Stephanie Shelton Crossen, who is in a pediatric medicine residency at Oregon Health Sciences University.