Monday, February 13, 2012

North Oriented

When I was the Chancellor, I spent 80% of my time in Southern Nevada taking every opportunity to speak to groups in Southern Nevada about the Nevada System of Higher Education.  I viewed the Chancellor’s job as an “outside” job because I felt the primary objective of the Chancellor was to bring the community and the System together.
I was very fortunate that Dan Klaich, who was the Executive Vice Chancellor, had grown up in Reno, had gone to UNR, had gone to the University of Washington College of Law and after graduation had returned to Reno.   Dan had been a member of the Board of Regents 20 years before and while he didn’t have a close tie to Southern Nevada, he appeared to understand the problems of the Southern Nevada schools.   Dan spent the majority of his time in the North bringing the Northern higher education schools together with their communities.  The relationship between Dan and me worked perfectly.
Of course now Dan is the Chancellor and lives in Northern Nevada and while I think he has an intellectual understanding of Southern Nevada, I don’t believe he has the emotional and community connection to the South. 
It is unfortunate that it is either the North or the South where the Chancellor lives.  I don’t know of any way to fix it unless you had the Chancellor live in Tonopah. 
The education philosophies of the North and the South are far different, and in most ways incompatible.  If I were designing a system of higher education I would create two separate entities—one for the North and one for the South.  Until that happens, all the Regents must understand the need to compensate for the Chancellor residing in Reno.  Frankly, I haven’t found the Regents, although mindful of the problem, doing anything whatsoever to solve it.
The NSHE System staff needs to be more representative of Southern Nevada needs and interests. It is absurd that most of the System staff is located in Reno and so many are alums of UNR. The staff in Southern Nevada must be expanded for it to have any impact on the System.  The Medical School will never be able to serve the state of Nevada if it centers everything around Reno, and the same is true of the System Office.  I have seen some state-wide movement of the medical school and am very pleased with the new Dean but the overall administration of the System is too North oriented.

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