Leaders begin assessing options for dealing with loss of Ashely, future of university
Officials within the Nevada System of Higher Education began looking for UNLV’s new interim president just days after the much-publicized demotion of former president David B. Ashley.
Regents Chairman James Leavitt and Chancellor Dan Klaich held a series of private discussions with staff, faculty and student representatives over the past two representatives over the past two weeks to identify community members would most like to see in the interim position.
On July 15, a capacity crowd sat in a Student Union Ballroom to comment on the characteristics necessary to be UNLV’s interim president and possibly receive hints as to who the board was considering for the role.
Leavitt, who previously said that discussions with campus groups could take as many as four weeks, explained that Chancellor Klaich will officially make his recommendation for the position today.
Regents will schedule a meeting where Klaich’s recommendation will either be accepted or rejected.
Student Body President Adam Cronis met with both Leavitt and Klaich on July 16 to discuss what characteristics students most hope to see in the next interim and eventually in the permanent president.
He said he would like to see a person fill the position who can relate to students.
“The [interim president] needs to exhibit the qualities of approachability and empathy [toward students],” Cronis said.
While there were no definite hints as to whom the regents are considering for the position, members of the UNLV community suggested everyone from provost and acting president Neal Smatresk to former president Carol Harter as possible candidates.
Leavitt said the search will not be a national one because of the time it would take to familiarize someone outside of NSHE with the system.
The conversations regarding the appointment of an interim began only a short while after the July special session of the Board of Regents that led to Ashley’s demotion.
Leavitt emphasized that the interim president must be able to communicate well and should have a strong background in academia.
“We’re looking for someone that can hit the ground running,” he said.
Senate President Victor Barragan commented that he would like to see a leader who is not afraid to reach out to the community.
“[The interim president should] make Las Vegas love UNLV,” he said.
Leavitt said he hoped the issue would be resolved quickly, but that NSHE officials will take their time to do what is in UNLV’s best interest.
Possible Interim President Nominees
Provost and acting president Neal Smatresk was appointed as provost in 2007 by former president David B. Ashley. With 27 years in education but only two at UNLV, he has managed to garner support from faculty who believe his experience in dealing with budget cuts and knowledge of UNLV is necessary for a president.
From 1995 to 2006, Carol Harter served as university president before suddenly announcing her resignation, reportedly due to tension between herself and former chancellor Jim Rogers. As the current executive director at the Black Mountain Institute, she has maintained a link to UNLV and has a reputation for excellence in fundraising.
From 1997 to 2007, Richard Morgan served as the first dean of the Boyd School of Law at UNLV. Though he is now employed with the Lionel Sawyer & Collins firm, many long-time professors recall his furtherance of and dedication to the law school during his tenure.