Dina Titus taking UNLV job buyout

UNLV political science professor Dina Titus, who lost re-election to Congress last fall and returned to teaching, is leaving the university next week.

According to documents obtained by the Review-Journal, Titus is one of 48 professors who are leaving voluntarily under a buyout plan that offered them 1.5 times their annual salary to, basically, go away.

"I decided to retire," Titus said Thursday. "I've been there 34 years. That's a long time to spend in one place."

She said she plans on traveling, and said she is definitely interested in keeping her political career alive.

"It's not like I'm going to go away," Titus said. "I'm going to refocus my energy. I'll stay in political life, that's for sure."

She wouldn't say what office she might run for, though it is expected that she will run for Congress again next year.

The university offered the voluntary buyouts to tenured faculty members this spring as a budget-cutting move to help stave off layoffs.

The buyouts will cost the university an initial payment to the professors of $7.4 million, but it will save the university $5 million per year in salaries alone. Those who took the buyout must be gone by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Titus, whose annual salary is $107,855, will be paid $161,782.50.

Also, her husband, history professor Thomas Wright, is taking the buyout. He will be paid $212,196.

Titus served 20 years in the state Senate before winning a seat in Congress in 2008. She took a leave of absence from the university but returned this past spring.

"She's one of our very best teachers," said Chris Hudgins, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts. "I think her experience, both in the state Senate and in Congress, has been invaluable to her teaching."

Titus came under criticism, primarily from the UNLV College Republicans, because she taught only one class in her first semester back. She also developed and hosted a radio show on the university's station, KUNV, and led a research seminar hosted by the university's Black Mountain Institute.

But her six-figure salary led to criticism that she was getting paid more than $100,000 to teach one class.

"I think that Dina Titus is doing what's good for Dina Titus, which is preparing to run for office again," said Mark Ciavola, the president of the UNLV College Republicans.

Titus said that in addition to keeping her political options alive, she plans on staying involved at UNLV. She will continue to supervise one of her graduate students, with no pay, and might come back to teach a class now and then on a part-time basis.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal. com or 702-383-0307.