LAS VEGAS -- Nevada's university regents voted unanimously for new board ethics rules Thursday and issued a gentle blanket apology for three regents' alleged wrongdoing, which included racial slurs and snooping through student files.
The two votes were intended to clear the air after a series of public gaffes and bitter argument clouded recent meetings.
Regents stopped short of reprimanding those accused of misconduct -- Linda Howard, Mark Alden and Howard Rosenberg.
"I'm sure that on this board there's going to be more bickering and arguing, but this was one small step," said Regent Steve Sisolak, who scrawled the apology on unlined paper during a heated, hourlong public hearing at UNLV.
It acknowledged that "inappropriate or overzealous behavior might have occurred" and that "we as a board of the whole, sincerely apologize to all of those who might have been affected and/or harmed."
Chancellor Jane Nichols earlier read a letter of apology from Alden, who had called Howard, the board's only black member, an "orangutan."
Howard had been criticized for requesting the records of several UNLV students, including one who called her an "idiot" in a campus newspaper opinion article. Howard continued to deny wrongdoing after the meeting.
Rosenberg was questioned after speaking up for two employees being terminated at University of Nevada, Reno.
Sisolak and board chairman Doug Seastrand said the new ethics rules would keep members out of trouble.
"All of us are looking for closure," Seastrand said. "Our constituents need to know that we've put these issues behind us. ... once and for all."
The new guidelines limit regents' access to student records and ask board members not to use their powers to "intimidate or influence" university students or employees.
The rules were approved unanimously after nearly an hour of haggling over language and an earlier public hearing in which Howard's supporters criticized the board.
High school teacher Isaac Barron called for regents to restore Howard's plan for a $450,000 university outreach center in Las Vegas, which was eliminated from the board budget.
"There is an undercurrent of inequality on the board," Barron said.
Hubert Hensen, who had criticized Howard in the UNLV newspaper article, told the board his words had been "blown out of proportion."