UNLV community weighs in as decision on temporary president nears

The clock is ticking down for the appointment of a temporary president for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The route the state’s Board of Regents will take is to appoint an acting president and begin a national search immediately for the permanent position, officials said. An acting president serves for a short period of time and is not eligible for the permanent position. An interim president can serve from one to three years and could be considered by the Regents for the permanent position.

A recommendation to appoint Don Snyder, 66, executive dean for strategic development for the UNLV stadium project will be made by Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, to the Board of Regents during a special meeting Friday, according to a memo he sent to the board Thursday. The recommendation was made in consultation with Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Page. The appointment of an acting president would require seven votes from the 13-member board. The appointment of an interim president would require nine votes.

The Friday meeting begins at 9 a.m. at UNLV’s student union and the community is welcome to speak during public comment.

Those on the short list include Snyder, Carol Harter, 72, former president and executive director of UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute, and John White, 46, executive vice president and provost at UNLV.

John Farley, a professor at UNLV, said during Wednesday’s meeting that he got along with Harter during her tenure as president, but bringing her back wouldn’t be a good idea.

A few other members in the audience expressed support for Harter saying many things were accomplished at UNLV during her presidency.

When Smatresk took the helm as interim president at UNLV in 2009, at the peak of the recession, about 90 percent of the campus community was not in favor of a national search given the budget constraints, Page said. Today, more people favor a national search for a permanent president.

If a national search is launched, the goal is to have a permanent president by Sept. 1.

However, with a national search, there may be candidates that UNLV may not be able to attract given Nevada’s open meeting law, officials said.

With a national search, a committee and an advisory group would be formed and every meeting held by the members would have to be public, said Scott Wasserman, chief of staff to the Board of Regents. At some point in those meetings, candidates’ names would become public.

That might discourage some candidates worried about their current jobs, but that won’t keep higher education officials away from following the law.

“We are going to obey the law to the letter, ” Klaich said. “We have to be transparent. We won’t get some folks, though.”

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (702) 383-0440, or yamaro@reviewjournal.com.