The man who has steered Western Nevada College over the past 18 months was chosen Thursday to be its permanent president.
Chet Burton was unanimously approved by the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents, who filled the post without going through a national search.
System Chancellor Dan Klaich and regents praised Burton for the job he has done through tough economic and budget times during the past 18 months.
Regent Michael Wixom cited the “almost unified 100 percent support for his leadership not only in very difficult times but in leading the institution.”
He cited Burton’s “fairness and honesty” in dealing with campus issues.
Regent Kevin Melcher said when he joined the board in 2007, “the Western service area was in conflict.”
“What I have witnessed President Burton do is restore the community college community, to find resolution,” Melcher said.
Melcher said Burton “came in and not just smoothed the waters but made tough decisions.
“We can do a search, but there’s no one out there who’s going to understand the community as well as President Burton,” he said. “And another thing: We don’t need to throw the college into an upheaval (with a search).”
Burton thanked the board for its support adding, “It’s not just me but the entire Western community and leadership that is bringing us forward now. I could not do it without them.”
He also thanked the 2015 Nevada Legislature for the “bridge funding” that will help the college survive the conversion to the new weighted funding formula, funding he described as “for WNC is absolutely critical.”
Burton also called for campus supporters to again unite despite the turmoil caused by the plan to drop men’s baseball and women’s softball programs at WNC after the 2016 season.
He praised the passion of the athletics program’s supporters, who still are holding out hope the programs can be saved, but said, “Unfortunately, raising the required operating funds in a small community like Carson City was a daunting task.”
And Burton said there was no way to sustain those programs “without diverting funding from critical (academic) programs.”
He called on those on all sides to mend the divisions created over that issue.
“Western is far too important to Carson City and the entire western area and won’t survive without the strong support of the communities we serve,” Burton said.
Burton was named interim president of WNC in April 2014 after serving as acting president for more than four months after Carol Lucey resigned the post.
He has been at WNC since 2009 in a variety of executive positions. Before that, he spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy including assignments at the Pentagon. He also was controller and finance director for International Game Technology of Reno.
Regents named Richard Trachok chairman for the coming year. He assumes that position, replacing Kevin Page, effective July 1.
Wixom was named vice chairman of the 13-member board.
Trachok is a senior partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber in Reno focusing on gaming and regulatory law, utility regulation and commercial law.
He’s a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno and California Western School of Law with a master of law degree from Cambridge in 1984.
Wixom has served as a regent since 2005 including two terms as chairman from 2007-2009.
He graduated from the University of Utah College of Law in 1986.