This article has been read 315 times.
Regents agree to end Ashley’s term as chief administrator
UNLV President David B. Ashley hung his head before members of the Board of Regents Friday as they voted to remove him from administrative office.
“It’s a profoundly sad day for David Ashley,” board chairman James Levitt said. “It’s a sad day for UNLV.”
In a 10-1 decision, the board refused to renew Ashley’s contract and instead unanimously opted to demote Ashley to a faculty position and pay him his base presidential salary of $246,424 until the 2010 expiration of his contract.
From the glowing May evaluation of Ashley’s presidency to the conflicts between his wife Bonnie and former chairman of the Board of Regents Michael Wixom, the evaluation covered the issues brought forth in recent months by former Chancellor Jim Rogers, staff members and alumni.
The primary evaluation, which was completed in May by California State University, Fresno President John Welty, was targeted for what Rogers called faulty conclusions which “strike of cronyism.”
“When I read the [May] evaluation, I was a little surprised by how positive it was on all fronts,” Rogers said.
Ashley, who asked regents to treat the evaluation as they would any other, despite the amount of publicity the special session attracted, said that he had questions as to whether the meeting was run properly.
“This had all of the qualities of a hearing,” Ashley said lamenting the harsh climate of the meeting.
But Rogers expressed his pride in what he saw as a fair evaluation of Ashley’s performance by an informed board.
“I’m really proud of the regents,” he said. “They’re not all sitting around going ‘Well I didn’t know that.’”
Attendees spoke their minds on the potential renewal of Ashley’s contract while regents made claims that he has been uncommunicative and uninvolved at the university.
“Any president that does not return a regent’s call — there’s something wrong [there],” said Regent Dorothy Gallagher after explaining how Ashley neglected to return an important call last year. “Either their arrogance comes to the point where they don’t feel that’s necessary, or they just don’t understand who runs the railroad. Now I don’t know which that is [for Ashley].”
Student Body President Adam Cronis was among a group of current and former student leaders who spoke in support of Ashley’s performance as president.
“I think that the record shows he’s been an advocate,” Cronis said. “He has some improvements to make, but he’s been an advocate and I can trust his judgment.”
Adriel Espinoza, a former UNLV student body president, also spoke positively of his relationship with Ashley, commenting that the former president was attuned to the needs and concerns of the student population.
“He always loved to try to understand what a UNLV student is, their struggles, their concerns,” he said.
Ashley has been criticized for his wife’s involvement in university affairs. The issue was made worse by Bonnie Ashley’s refusal to sign a waiver allowing her involvement and actions to be discussed in the open meeting.
“None [of the attempts] were successful,” Nevada System of Higher Education Chief Counsel Bart Patterson said. “The door was never answered at the [Ashley] house.”
Ashley’s involvement with the creation of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion position also hit a nerve with regents, and regents questioned his allowing a registered lobbyist to promote the creation of such a position in all Nevada universities. Many took the action as a sign of refusal to work within the system.
“Frankly, [Ashley is] a C+ president in a situation where we need an honor student,” said Regent Robert Blakely.
Jim Ratigan, former president of the UNLV Alumni Association, criticized Ashley for his lack of presence and enthusiasm at fundraising and alumni events.
“The perception of many alumni whom I’ve spoken with is that he either doesn’t care or doesn’t value [alumni relations] as a priority on his list,” Ratigan said.
Members of the audience mumbled during breaks that some of the regents had their minds made up prior to attending the meeting – something Chair Levitt denied.
“This board went further, gave more due process…than [at] any other evaluation,” he said.
After the meeting, Ashley took time to speak to the students who have spoken out in his favor as well as a few of the regents.
He said he refused to be unprofessional in speaking of the regents and instead, he offered his thanks to students.
“I’m very heartened by students’ support,” he said.
Provost Neal Smatresk will take over day-to-day operations of the university until the regents complete a two-to-three week set of discussions with campus community members on potential interim presidents.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original version of this article attributed a quote to former student body president Peter Goatz. The comment was actually made by former student body president Adriel Espinoza.