Friday, June 13, 2014
When I look at how much effort Kevin Page puts into his job as a member of the Board of Regents, I marvel at how someone as incompetent as Robert Blakely can have the nerve to run for Regent. Blakely became a regent by accident when he signed up for the job, knowing nothing about it, but hoping it paid a salary. In my time as Chancellor, Blakely proved himself to be in a class by himself. He is utterly incompetent. Whatever you do, don’t vote for him. On the other hand, at the other end of the spectrum is Kevin Page — do vote for him.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
I looked at the qualifications of Kevin Page’s opponents for Regent. They are good men—highly intelligent, well educated, and experienced in the day to day operation of higher education. But their experience is not relevant to the problems facing Nevada’s higher education system. Nothing in their backgrounds, experience or education would in any way prepare them to solve the system’s problems.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
How many hours do you spend at work each week? I’ll bet very seldom is it more than forty hours. And you get paid for your time. Kevin Page spends fifty or more hours a week working as a Regent where he earns less than twenty-five cents an hour. It seems to me that’s pure devotion.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Very few of the regents ever have education and experience in the world of money. The higher education system of Nevada survives on very meager financial support by the legislature. It takes an expert to get two dollars in value out of a dollar’s cash. Kevin Page understands money and I think he understands how best to use that money for Nevada’s education.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Regent Kevin Page and I have had our differences. But those differences have nothing to do with his sincerity and competence and devotion to his thankless job as a member of the Nevada Board of Regents. The job of Board of Regents has attracted far more competent individuals than this feeble branch of government ever deserved to have. It has been a yeoman’s task to overcome the shortcomings of this empty government position. Kevin Page has done more than his fair share.
Friday, June 6, 2014
I can’t say the Board of Regents accomplishes nothing, but it must invest ten dollars of its time for each dollar it gets from the Nevada legislature, which has done more to stifle Nevada’s growth than any other organized group of incompetent people. In spite of Kevin Page’s frustration, he continues to fight the battle.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Being a Regent really is like pushing a rock over and over half way up the side of a mountain, only to see it roll to the bottom each time. Why then, would anyone want to continuously push that rock when it never seems it will get to the top? Regent Kevin Page seems to have an answer.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
I have pointed out the futility of being a member of the Nevada Board of Regents because you must know how difficult it is for every member of that board to accomplish anything without money. The only money given to the board by the state legislature is not only barely above starvation levels, it is not nearly enough for Nevada to build a competitive higher education system. Yet the Regents, especially those like Kevin Page continue to fight to raise adequate funding.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
The Nevada Board of Regents, which governs the system of higher education, is a separate branch of government, totally different from that in any other state. The only problem with it being a separate branch of government is that the Nevada constitution writers failed to give it taxing authority. Therefore, the education system is at the mercy of a legislature, which won’t spend any money on any worthwhile cause. In spite of this nearly fatal flaw, the Board of Regents still attracts first-class, caring, well-educated and bright members who really do hold the best interests of your children at heart.
Monday, June 2, 2014
I support Kevin Page for Regent. I’m not sure how you measure the effectiveness of any member of the Board of Regents. They have little or no power, are paid nothing to do a thankless job, and meet so seldom that you wonder how they have any idea of the magnitude of their job. Tomorrow I’ll try to explain this series of shortcomings in a job that still manages to attract good citizens with good intentions.
Friday, May 2, 2014
The community colleges already have strong relationships with Nevada State College, UNLV and UNR. For example, the College of Southern Nevada has UNLV and NSC advisors on its campuses to help students transfer to obtain a four-year degree. Why put these collaborations at risk with four new governance systems? With the current higher education system under the control of a 13-member Board of Regents, collaborations can happen in an efficient manner. Trying to get agreement among 13 people is a lot easier than the dozens that would be involved with five governing boards.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Nevada still has a long, tough, hill to climb when it comes to educating its population. Political games like those behind SB 391 do nothing to move us forward. They do the opposite and push our higher education system back toward a feudal system with each college fighting with the others for their slice of the pie. Our legislators and business community should focus on helping our education system move forward instead of continually cutting funding and creating solutions to problems that don’t exist.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
While there is still room for improvement with Nevada’s community colleges, it seems Chancellor Dan Klaich is making progress toward a more efficient and effective system. He recently announced the appointment of Frank Woodbeck to lead the Nevada Community College Collaborative. From what I understand, Woodbeck will focus his energies on enhancing the colleges’ roles in economic development and streamlining services that can be shared among the institutions. To me, seeking efficiencies through collaboration under one system makes more sense than creating four new ones as SB 391 is designed to advocate.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
It’s no secret I’ve had issues with the Board of Regents in the past. They are, however, in the best position to make sure the community colleges work in partnership with each other and Nevada State College, UNLV and UNR. At one point, Nevada students had problems getting their community college courses transferred to the university. The Board of Regents put an end to that because they were all in one governance system. Students can now seamlessly transfer between community colleges and our four-year institutions. What will happen when you have four local governing boards competing with one another? Certainly nothing that will benefit the students.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Does taking four community colleges from one governance system and putting them into four separate ones sound like an efficient move? It doesn’t to me. Creating four new governing boards, business centers, payroll systems and so forth doesn’t sound like a move that would be made by any competent business leader. SB 391 is a political solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Look at other states that have reformed higher education governance structures. It’s typically very controversial, takes a lot of political capital to accomplish, disrupts college operations, sets back progress and in the end produces no evidence of improved economic development, job placement or student success.
Friday, April 25, 2014
While the current governance model needs improvement, it does not need to be dismantled and started over by putting the community colleges under local government control. For starters, how would they pay for the buildings, faculty, staff and millions of dollars of associated expenses? Then there would also be new levels of bureaucracy and overhead added to local government to manage the community colleges. Who pays for this bright idea? You and I and the students. I would love to see local funding for community colleges in addition to state support, but in our environment the only way this could be accomplished is to add new taxes or raise tuition. Anyone with common sense can tell you this makes no sense for taxpayers or students.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
What is driving this move to put Nevada’s community colleges under local control? It’s the same old story. Power. There are certain elected officials and business leaders pushing this agenda, not to help students, but to help their political careers. Putting CSN under the control of the City of North Las Vegas is like letting your broke friend manage your bank accounts. It makes no sense and provides no benefit to students.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
When I was chancellor, I explored local funding as a way to provide additional support for the community colleges. Long story short, there was no appetite from local governments to take on the additional financial and management burdens. It doesn’t take an MBA from Harvard to figure out that putting community colleges under the control of financially challenged local governments is a bad idea.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
In the 2013 legislative session, legislators created the SB 391 committee to examine the governance structure of Nevada’s four community colleges which are part of an eight-institution system including two universities, one college and an environment research institute. The committee’s purported goal is to look at the feasibility of putting the community colleges in a new governance system where they would be taken away from the Board of Regents and put under local city and county control. Is it a sensible move? Or a power grab? How on earth does this benefit the students?
Monday, April 21, 2014
Community colleges play an important role in Nevada. They not only provide an affordable entryway to a college degree, they train the next generation of workers in critical healthcare, technology and vocational fields. Nevada’s four community colleges, the College of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows College and Western Nevada College, currently serve more than 55,000 students. These colleges are in a centralized system governed by the Nevada Board of Regents to create efficiencies and ensure collaboration with Nevada State College, UNLV and UNR. So, why is there a move by the Legislature to tear the colleges apart?
Friday, February 7, 2014
A newspaper reporter called to ask me if Beverly and I would withdraw our financial support of UNLV because Don Snyder was chosen to be the acting president. I told the reporter that we would not withdraw financial support because we had insulated our donations from the overall use by UNLV and by the Nevada Higher Education System by directing that the funds would be used only to support the Black Mountain Institute, an international center that supports creative writers and scholars.
Fortunately, many, if not all of the departments or areas of specialization within UNLV can be isolated from the overall inadequacy of the board of regents and the school’s leadership so that these “pockets of excellence” can flourish regardless of the incompetence that surrounds them. I would urge that any donor carefully earmark and control his or her money to keep it out of the mainstream controlled by UNLV leadership and management.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
How do you look for and find a new president for UNLV between now and July 1 of 2014? If an employment contract for a new UNLV president is to be put in place, it must be done so before July 1, not before September first when the school year begins.
How do you persuade a present sitting president at another university to leave that job and come to a school that has all the problems UNLV has when merely applying for this job may cost that president his or her present job, or may result in that president taking this job and killing his or her career? Maybe Don Snyder, Dan Klaich, and Kevin Page have the answer to this question. I hope they do, but I seriously doubt it.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
In one stroke of idiocy the board of regents proved what Nevadans had thought for fifty years; that is, that the board of regents should be disbanded and sent home and that a new governing system should be developed, that is, one that appoints the members of the board of regents. Picking Snyder to be the president of UNLV, albeit only for a short time, is the most outrageously incompetent decision the board has ever made. During my tenure as chancellor I was privileged to serve under Mike Wixom, whom I considered to be the best board chairman I had ever known, and I have served on more than thirty major boards. Although I’ve never served under present Chairman Kevin Page, I’ve observed his tenure through act after act that proved him to be inadequate, incompetent and totally over his head in every issue the board faces. I realize that Page did not by himself put Snyder in office, but Page’s lack of leadership certainly allowed for Snyder to sneak through and assume a position that now will have no substance at all.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Being a Tier I university is the most significant and yet short description of what every leading university in the United States strives to be. From the beginning of time, Carol Harter spoke of UNLV becoming a Tier I university so that it could stand alongside Berkeley, Stanford, USC, Utah and the University of Washington. It is a phrase known to every academic in the world. It is a phrase that needs no explanation to anyone who has any understanding of the goals of higher education. And yet, as common as the term is, Snyder, your new president of UNLV, when asked by a faculty member of his knowledge of being a “Tier I” university, answered, “I don’t know. Other people will handle that.” Are the regents and the overall administration of the system so out of touch with leadership qualities necessary to be a competent university president that they missed this rather fundamental point? The answer is yes. Every one of them should be shown the door and asked to leave and instructed never to come back.
Monday, February 3, 2014
UNLV will never compete with the major universities, that is Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, UCLA and Arizona for two reasons: number one, it wasn’t formed until 1956, so it started 75 years late, and number two, whereas cash was aplenty in starting and supporting the growth of the other schools, UNLV has never had any money.
But that doesn’t mean that UNLV cannot pick specialized and limited areas to concentrate its efforts and finances to be the best in the world. Harvard isn’t number one in every education category; nor is Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, or Michigan. All of the “great” schools have picked “pockets of excellence” in which to specialize and become world leaders.
The Boyd School of Law at UNLV is world-class, and the Black Mountain Institute, already a leading international center for creative writers and scholars, has the potential to become a one-of-a-kind institution. Beverly and I don’t give our money to spread among all of UNLV’s endeavors. We’ve given our money to Black Mountain Institute because we believe that with relative limited resources, it can become the best in the world in what it offers.
Over the next two weeks, I’m going to point out various “pockets of excellence” at UNLV. You may find it very comforting and gratifying to know that if you invest in one of these “pockets,” that you will drive UNLV into world leadership in those limited areas.
Friday, January 31, 2014
I know that Don Snyder doesn’t need any advice from me nor does he want any. But I give this to him in any case. If you’re going to make a phone call from the Phoenix airport to Las Vegas, screaming and yelling, that someone ought to get control of me and shut my mouth or there would be serious consequences, then you’d be wise to understand the legal implication of those threats.
How does someone who has been the president of a major bank and a major gaming company and seemingly doesn’t have to work because of his high net worth, have the gall to ask the higher education system of Nevada to pay him $300,000 a year? It seems to me he should volunteer his time for nothing and pay his own expenses.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Let me describe the difficulties in hiring a college president.
Number 1 – You must look for a president who has been a president before as nothing qualifies a president to be a president more than being a president. Too often systems hire provosts from other systems to move into a president’s job and it simply doesn’t work.
Number 2 – UNLV needs its new president to have been a former college president. Other than Carol Harter, UNLV has never hired a college president who was a president of some other university. That creates a big risk.
Number 3 – You don’t want to hire a president who doesn’t presently have a job. Those presidents who are out of work are out of work for a good reason and you don’t want them.
Number 4 – The field of candidates for president is at most 50. Because all those 50 are presently employed, it’s difficult to get them to apply.
Number 5 – If you can get a presently-sitting president interested in the job, these are the risks they run. If they apply for the job at your school, they’ll be terminated at the end of the year at their school even if they don’t get your job. Therefore, few sitting presidents want to take the risk of applying for the job unless they are guaranteed the job at the time they apply and that can’t happen.
Number 6 – Hiring a college president is a very difficult and very public affair. Everyone associated with the institution wants to be able to interview that person, express an opinion of that person’s competence and see if that candidate is compatible with the environment of the university.
Number 7 - How then do you simply look for a president without prejudicing that president’s present job? Simply hire a company that is a headhunter to seek out the candidates.
Number 8 - When I was the Chancellor, I found headhunters were very competent in what they do. They know every president of every major university in the United States. That number is between 100 and 150 presidents. When retained, the headhunter will then talk to the presidents they believe might want a new job.
Number 9 - Headhunters are not required to inform the university seeking the new president of those presidents with whom they are speaking. If they did so, the information would be leaked and the president would find his or her job prejudiced.
Number 10 – The institution will probably have the headhunter reduce the potential candidates to three or five, and with the permission of the candidates, the names will be released to the Board of Regents who will pursue the hiring of the new president.
Number 11- Applying for a job of a new president of a university is taking your life and career into your hands. One false move and you end up with no job.
I have been involved in at least 15 presidential searches at various universities. It is the most ticklish position to be involved in. One of the primary representations you must make to the applicant is that there has been no decision already made by the governing board and that the search is merely a cover for supporting a prior in-house candidate for the job.
UNLV is mature enough to be able to recruit a first-class president who has served as a president of a first-class university. I don’t want to see this Board of Regents screw this search up like it did in the hiring of Don Snyder as the acting president.
If I were the president at a major university and saw how the selection of Don Snyder was made, I would never prejudice my present position as a college president by becoming involved in a selection process that is at least suspect.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Is being a Provost a natural stepping stone to becoming a college president? The answer is a resounding “NO”. I say that because I want people to understand that the evolution of executive vice president and present Provost, John White, former Dean of the Boyd law school into the presidency of UNLV simply won’t work. Let me explain.
John has all the intellectual qualifications necessary. He is a graduate of Yale law school, the number one law school in the United States, which takes only the intellectual giants. He’s been in academia for years as a professor in the most complicated, complex and sophisticated areas of the law. There can be no question that he is intellectually capable of understanding all of higher education’s problems and solutions. But John has one fatal flaw. He is not aggressive, not a good communicator, does not handle himself socially very well and, from what I understand, he has done an absolutely horrible job in engaging the monied people of Southern Nevada to support The Boyd School of Law.
Business development, that is partnerships with the local business community, fundraising capabilities, high profile conduct are essential to the presidency of any university, especially UNLV which is desperately in need of money.
I’m discussing John White at this point in my Tweets because I hear rumblings that the road map has already been developed for Don Snyder to make ready the ascendency of White into the Presidency of UNLV.
I am a little tired of the “fix” being put in place in everything we do. I’d like to see a legitimate horserace with the fastest and best horse winning.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I watched in utter disbelief as one Las Vegas businessman after another spoke at the Regents’ Meeting to support Don Snyder’s ascendency to the UNLV Presidency. Not one of those business leaders has any idea about the governance of higher education. What a staged embarrassment of the system’s way of handling its business.
But that fiasco aside, the Regents had better adopt a new script for choosing leaders of the System’s eight institutions. The Regents have proved themselves in this one action to be totally without the skill and knowledge to govern.
For a donor looking for a place to put money to improve Nevada’s higher education system, I recommend the Nevada State College and/or The Black Mountain Institute. My family is contributing property valued at $6M to Nevada State College and $10M in cash to the Black Mountain Institute. We have done so but have created safeguards with these institutions that will prohibit the Regents from interfering with these projects.
If there was ever any doubt about our fear of the Regents’ ability to govern, this single amateurish action in appointing Don Snyder as UNLV’s President has confirmed my belief of the Board’s incompetence.
The latest message from the Board of Regents to academia across this country is “We don’t know what we’re doing”.
Monday, January 27, 2014
One rule I learned early on is that you may not owe anyone with whom you deal much, but the one unconditional obligation you have is to tell the truth. And both of you failed miserably in telling the truth about the way you chose Don Snyder to be acting president. I’d love to have both of you under oath to confirm that my suspicions were always correct; and that is that you had cut the deal with Don before Carol Harter expressed interest and before you had ever talked with her. This is high school politics at its worst.
But not only is this amateurish, you have permanently damaged and insulted a great lady, an academician, and a person full of loyalty and dedication to this university by choosing Don Snyder. With all of his talents, and I admit that he has many, Don’s resume is a blank sheet when compared to Carol Harter’s education, experience as a true academic leader, writer, philosopher and intellectual. You also sent a message to every faculty member at UNLV that intellectual endeavor is of no importance unless it produces a dollar. That hasn’t been the purpose of education worldwide since the 5th century. Every college president across this country must be howling at the thought that a man with a B. A. from Wyoming is now the academic leader at UNLV.
You owe Carol an apology and you owe the entire faculty of UNLV an apology.
Shame on you both.