Monday, April 30, 2012

Bart Patterson

I know at least a hundred college and university presidents, southern Nevada has three of the best. Today, the Board of Regents selected Bart Patterson as the new president of Nevada State College. I have known Bart for more than seven years. He is first class in every sense of the word. He has all the makings of a world class college president. Southern Nevada is blessed with outstanding leadership in its higher education institutions. Mike Richards at CSN, Neil Smatresk at UNLV and Bart Patterson will do much for leading and carrying the system that has many - many short comings. I wish Bart well. 


While Chancellor, I had several discussions with Senator Bill Raggio about higher education in Nevada.  Two of those discussions have stayed in my mind.

When I became Chancellor in 2004, I went to see Senator Raggio.  He had only one question and that was:  “Do you have any intention of moving the medical school from Reno to Las Vegas?”  I said “absolutely not – that would be senseless.  The medical school must always be in Reno, but it must expand its presence in southern Nevada.”

He said that was “fine.”  He never asked me another question in my five years as Chancellor.

My second memorable discussion with Senator Raggio occurred several years later when funding for the System was a major issue. 

At a lunch with several other Southern Nevadans, one of them asked Raggio about the funding formula.  Raggio’s response was simple - “Don’t ever bring up the formula again or I will make sure there are no more taxes for the System.”  That closed the subject.




Sunday, April 29, 2012


The presidential search at UNR stinks to high heaven when you look at the sequence of events it appears that the regents voted behind closed doors long before the formal vote. 

The Redfield Foundation in its amateurish ego driven bullet proof attitude blatantly over used its power and strength and the regents, novices that they are, rolled over and gave the foundation exactly what they wanted. 

We intend to do a thorough investigation and we’ll keep you posted as we determine if the regents and the chancellor violated the law. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hiring Of The New UNR President

The hiring of the new UNR president is a done deal and I have no intention of tracking Marc Johnson’s career on whether he is competent or incompetent but I am going to comment on the way he was chosen as president.

The interference by The Nell J. Redfield Foundation in the process of choosing a president of UNR is beyond anything I have ever experienced.  It colors every part of the choosing of a major administrator in the higher education system.  Whatever the final motives and reasons of the Regents for choosing Marc Johnson, they will forever be suspect.  Even creating a scenario where a donor believes that the donor can, through financial coercion determine the outcome of the appointment of a high ranking higher education official, creates the impression that those positions can be bought.

I know of no other institution in the United States where such a blatant effort was made to control the hiring of the chief executive officer of a university.

It would seem to me that Regents, and especially the Chancellor, must take a look at their own set of values to determine how they made so little of such a major event.  It appears to me that with the exception of just a few, the Regents missed the point and compromised their judgment in all areas. 

Incidentally, our station just called Gerald C. Smith and asked to interview him about the situation.  He hung up on us.


I am told that the number of K-12 children who qualify for the school lunch program is 60% of the students.  Two years ago it was 45%.

How and why have we failed so badly in the development of the American economy that our work force produces only enough to adequately fund the basic needs of only 40% of our children?

Before this country can solve any of its other problems, it must address the very fundamental issue of feeding its children.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Money Off The Top

When I was a kid in the 1950s growing up in Las Vegas, it was always believed that the mob got “first count” of winnings.  They took money off the top and reported what was left.

So it is with the special treatment of the University of Nevada Medical School.  Its budget of $31,425,100 comes off the top of state education funds.  That is about $126,714 per year for each student.  At that point the “funding formula” kicks in to distribute the remainder of state tax funds among the eight institutions. 

The northern legislators, led by Bill Raggio got the “first count” of our tax revenue for their pet project, the medical school.

I wonder if the funding formula committee will take the first count that the medical school gets into account when it develops a new funding formula among the eight higher education system institutions. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Competition is good.  Fords make Chevys better.  Cadillacs make Lincolns better.  Where there are two or more entities in any endeavor each becomes stronger because of the other. 

College education is the same.  Public education systems become much better because of their need to compete with the private institutions.  Stanford is better because of Cal Berkley.  Cal Berkley is better because of Stanford.  UCLA is better because of USC and USC is better because of UCLA.  Utah is better because of BYU and BYU is better because of Utah. 

There are no private universities in Nevada.  If there were, their mere existence would create competition between those private schools and UNR and UNLV.  That would be good for everyone.  But, unfortunately, that will never happen. 

The only higher education system Nevada will ever have is the one it presently has and that system is not very good.  It is difficult to measure the Nevada system’s success when there is nothing to measure it against.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

List of Cut Programs

If you believe that Sandoval’s starving of education in this state was designed only to eliminate inefficiencies in the higher education system, Sandoval completely misled you.  You fell for this old “inefficiency” political game. 

Believe it or not, the Nevada System of Higher Education has been efficiently operated for years.  I know because I spent five years of my life looking at its financial structure.  I understand money.  I understand how to make it and how to keep it.  I understand how to invest it and how to use it efficiently. 

Sandoval’s budget cuts went far beyond reducing inefficiencies in the system.  They destroyed programs.  They left students stranded in the middle of their education with little or no hope of finishing because courses disappeared.  These are some of the programs eliminated:

Master of Education – Physical Education
Bachelor of Science in Education – Physical Education
Master of Science – Physical Education
Bachelor of Science in Education – Workforce Education
Educational Specialist – Special Education
Master of Science – Special Education
Doctor of Education – Special Education
Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership
Education Specialist – Educational Leadership
Master of Science – Sport and Leisure Services Management
BSHA – Hospitality Management
BSHA – Food Service Management
BSHA – Lodging and Resort Management
BSHA – Meetings and Events Management
Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts Management
Bachelor of Science – Culinary Arts Management – Beverage Management
Bachelor of Science – Recreation

How would you like to look at a catalogue of a college and learn that the school is withering away?  Do you believe that it would make you eager to go to that school?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rules For Admission

For 40 years, the eight institutions of Nevada’s higher education system acted as though each of them was the only higher education institution in the state.  Each created its own rules for admission, graduation and every other standard of operation.  That philosophy led to UNR and UNLV refusing to accept the academic records of students who wished to transfer from one of those schools to the other.  UNLV and UNR also set their own rules for transferring from community colleges.  One could take a full year of courses at a community college and find the universities would accept only one course.  The battles among the system colleges were so intense that presidents refused to speak to each other.  Back door lobbying was commonplace and the school that got to a legislator first, got the money. 

Things are different now.  Articulation agreements are in effect which allow the student to transfer all units from one of the schools to another.  More must be done to coordinate the efforts of the universities and community colleges and fortunately, the present sitting presidents are all compatible, supportive, and creative team players.

Friday, April 20, 2012

UNR's New President

The decision is in. Johnson will become UNR’s new president. I am certainly not surprised. It’s impossible to divert or stop a railroad train once it is put in motion.  It may be even more important to analysis the actions of each of the thirteen regents in reaching this never in doubt result rather than attempting to predict the future effect on UNR and the entire higher education system caused by its new president Marc Johnson.  I want to think about it over the weekend and beginning next Monday I’ll give you my thoughts.  One initial thought is that a lot of time and effort was wasted and a lot of money, a hundred thousand dollars, was wasted in this irrelevant exercise.