Nancy Dallas: Nevada’s institutions of higher learning need change

With openness and proper oversight by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents over the Chancellor and his cabinet, the system can work; however, when the Chancellor undermines the proper process and proceeds to intentionally cover up and hide from his governing board and the Legislature information it needs to make decisions and set policies in regards to the performance of our institutions of higher learning, the system fails miserably.

The Chancellor’s recent quashing of information within a report critical of him and his agency has now shed considerable light on what appears to be a centralized leadership clique within the NSHE. Keeping your bosses in the dark to the results of a professional study critical of your performance makes for good job security, I guess.

The study in question was done by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems and was intended to give state legislators ideas on how to improve on the operation of the state’s community colleges. Dan Klaich, and some of his cabinet members determined they did not like the study’s conclusions. He apparently will do whatever necessary to maintain a centralized control over the eight schools within the NSHE — even to the probable detriment of the entire NSHE system, and, now, his own integrity.

Change in operational structure, quality of appointees, management processes, et al have been recommended for years. The results of this most current study were not much different from past studies — until, under a directive from Mr. Klaich, negatives were edited out by the contracted “think tank,” NCHEMS. Both Mr. Klaich and the NCHEMS failed the integrity test.

The Board of Regents must challenge Chancellor Klaich to fully explain this episode, including as to whether he has “played favorites” with his continued use of the NCHEMS, and challenge this firm as to their reason for changing information within the study at the request of an unhappy client.

An investigative article by Bethany Barnes in the June 28, 2015 LVRJ indicated the report “recommended radical overhauls, including a statement that questioned the ability of Klaich’s agency to accomplish any of its improvement goals.”

It also recommended the community colleges and universities be put under separate governing systems — a recommendation that has been put forth, according to some, for many years.

The current furor over this recent revelation is also leading to added attention to other recent questionable activities by Mr. Klaich:

Charges of plagiarism in 2014 by the Brookings Mountain West ‘think tank’ against Klaich and others within his circle.

Mr. Klaich’s January 2015 hire of recently retired State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to fill the Executive Vice Chancellor position.

The hiring of presidents at some of the schools within the NSHE — where no national search was conducted and PhDs apparently not a pre-requisite.

There are some high quality individuals on the current Board of Regents; however, they must bear some responsibility for these failings within the system. It’s each of their jobs to be aware of what the Chancellor’s office is doing, question, challenge and to follow proper procedures in all matters, including hires. They should never fall into the “trap” of allowing the Chancellor to act as their boss. The Chancellor is answerable to the BOR ... all are answerable to the taxpayers.

Nancy Dallas is publisher and editor of NewsDesk,


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment