At the 2012 commencement ceremony, Warner Pacific College was privileged to bestow upon Charles E. Nielsen the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Charles spent thirty years as a professor in the social science department at Warner Pacific, from 1966 to 1996.
Charles grew up on a rural farm near Arlington, South Dakota. His family attended a small Church of God one mile from their farm. When Charles was in high school, the family began attending a church in Brookings, thirty miles away, which is where he met his wife, Phyllis. They were married in 1953.
From 1951 to 1958, Charles earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science followed by a Bachelor of Divinity from Anderson College and Anderson Seminary, respectively. Upon graduation, Charles joined the staff of First Church of God in Saint Joseph, Michigan, where he was responsible for music, youth ministry, and Christian education.
In 1960, Charles accepted a position teaching economics and religion at South Dakota State University, where he also completed a Master of Sociology. From 1963 to 1966, Charles taught sociology and economics at Dickinson State College, in North Dakota. Charles then made the eventful decision to move west to Warner Pacific at the request of former college president Dr. Louis Gough.
As a skilled educator and social scientist, Charles taught an impressive array of subjects, including sociology, economics, international relations, and criminology. More importantly, he strove to create a classroom "without walls" and engage students with vital social issues of the day.
Charles became a trusted friend and adviser to students as they explored matters of faith, ethics, social responsibility, and God's calling on their lives. And his influence continues today, as he remains in regular contact with former students.
Charles is a quiet man of strong Christian faith and moral conviction. Fully embracing personal and social holiness, Charles has worked for peace and justice on campus, with students, and in the community. Charles was a member of the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon Public Policy Committee for twenty years, and continues to serve on the board of the group Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
Charles and Phyllis raised four children: Linda, Randall, Mark (now deceased), and Patti.
The Nielsens remain very much a part of the Warner Pacific community, attending basketball games, concerts, chapels, and commencements.
Charles' life is reflected in the words of the Apostle Paul, in II Corinthians 9:12: "This service you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." Warner Pacific College is proud to confer this honor on Charles Nielsen on this day, the fifth of May, 2012.