Oct 29, 2013 08:25 AM EDT
Northwestern Health Sciences University President Found Dead On His Property in West Lakeland
Jeff Nelson, Northwestern Health Sciences University President and Chief Executive Officer, was found dead from a gunshot wound on his Stillwater property, Oct.22.
"This is a tragic occurrence and we're obviously very saddened for Jeff's family and for our campus community. I know nothing more than what I'm telling you here, but we'll be as transparent as possible as we learn more," the University said in a statement.
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Nelson, 58, was chosen as the 6th president by the university's board on April 13 to lead the private, nonprofit college.
"Though some of us worked with Jeff only a short time, during his months as our president he re-energized our campus and heightened our aspirations. All of us will be affected by this tragic news, but none so much as Jeff's family. We'll be doing everything we can to support them, and have already dispatched members of our leadership team to Jeff's home in Stillwater," the statement said.
Authorities haven't yet determined the cause of Nelson's death. "Our detectives are looking at it," Sgt. Matt Wieland of the Washington County Minnesota Sheriff's Office told Virgin Island Daily News. "It's still under investigation."
Prior to Northwestern, Nelson abruptly resigned as Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center's President and CEO on Jan. 26 after holding the position for two years. He was also the former Regent at the University of Minnesota.
"Jeff was probably one of the kindest people I've ever had the pleasure to get to know. He was a devoted husband and father. He spoke of his family often, and he really was committed to his work here in St. Croix," former Luis Hospital board chairwoman Kye Walker told Virgin Island Daily News.
"Those of us who had the opportunity to get to know him well know of his character and his passion for his work and his desire to make things better. If there were something I wanted to say to Jeff and to his family, that would be thank you," Walker said.
Deepak Bansal, who was a Luis Hospital board member and Chief Financial Officer during Nelson's tenure, was shocked and heartbroken when he learnt the tragic news.
"He was always fair, I thought. I think he would want to be remembered that he was fair, and he did things here with the best intentions. He had the best intentions of JFL. He truly wanted to make a positive impact."
"He was an excellent manager and knew the health care industry very well. It's a great loss," Bansal said. "All I can say personally is I wish his family the best. It's really a tragedy. No matter what individuals thought of his ideas, he definitely left a positive impact on the St. Croix hospital and community."
Nelson earned his master's degree in hospital administration from the University of Iowa and a bachelor of arts in accounting from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.