Nelson Initiative on Ethics and Leadership

Bill Nelson on shuttle
Then-U.S. Rep. Bill Nelson aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. This photo and the bumper sticker Nelson is holding in it are part of the collection of papers and other items he has deposited with UF’s Smathers Libraries. (Photo provided by UF)

The Nelson Initiative on Ethics and Leadership includes a regular, ongoing series of speakers and seminars.

Recognizing his personal and professional contributions to Florida and his country, an endowed fund has been established at the George A. Smathers Libraries to honor former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and to support his initiative focused on ethics and leadership. The endowment will also foster research and scholarship through the use of Senator Nelson’s personal and professional papers and related materials that are on deposit at the Smathers Libraries.

2024 Lake Nona Impact Forum: Conversations on the Future of American’s Space Program

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The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida presented an event with NASA Administrator and former Senator Bill Nelson with former astronauts Charlie Bolden & Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson at the Smathers Library. The event took place in the Grand Reading Room of the Smathers Library building on Friday, February 17, 2023.

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The Bill Nelson Collection

Over 800 boxes and more than six terabytes of electronic records are included in the Bill Nelson Collection. The collection documents over 46 years of public service by one of Florida’s most influential political figures. In addition to his time in the Senate, the collection documents his training and flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia mission in 1986, as well as aspects of his youth and earlier political career. The Bill Nelson Collection is being processed, preserved, and stored in the Smathers Libraries and is available for students and scholars exploration and research.

After serving as Florida’s treasurer, insurance commissioner and fire marshal in the 1990s, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and completed his political career after three terms. While serving in the Senate, he was the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, chair of the Science and Space Subcommittee, and chair of the Senate Committee on Aging.

Featured piece of the collection: Bill Nelson at the 60th Anniversary of the John F. Kennedy Speech at Rice University