Friday, February 7, 2014

UNLV Donor

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

A New President

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

Board Of Regents

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

Tier I

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

“Pockets of Excellence”

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.