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CSN will get acting president this summer

Nevada’s higher education system wants to use an executive placement firm to choose an acting president who’ll lead College of Southern Nevada for a year.

The Nevada Board of Regents heard an information-only presentation during a meeting Friday.

Current CSN President Federico Zaragoza is stepping down at the end of June when his contract ends. He has been at the helm since 2018.

The community college, which has about 30,000 students, has three main campuses in the Las Vegas Valley.

The Nevada System of Higher Education plans to use The Registry, a higher education executive placement firm, to find an acting president.

Regent Carol Del Carlo, who is in her eighth year on the board, asked when NSHE has used The Registry in the past.

“I think it’s great we’re doing that,” she said.

NSHE hasn’t used The Registry in the past but has used other services, Interim Chancellor Patty Charlton said.

The goal is to use The Registry to draw from a pool of qualified individuals who have been thoroughly vetted, she said.

Charlton said she will bring a recommendation with a name of an acting president to a future meeting.

She also said the person who is appointed would not be eligible for the permanent position.

NSHE plans to recommend starting a national search this fall for a permanent CSN president, who would start on the job in summer 2025, according to meeting materials.

Regent Patrick Boylan raised questions about why they’re using an outside person to fill the role instead of someone from within.

In late November, regents were scheduled to consider appointing James McCoy — the college’s vice president of academic affairs — as the interim president beginning July 1.

But at the beginning of the meeting, then-board Chair Byron Brooks said the item would be pulled and heard instead during a December special meeting.

Brooks didn’t provide a reason for the item being postponed. The item never returned to a meeting agenda.

During the late November meeting, the overwhelming majority of public commenters expressed support for McCoy, but a couple raised concerns.

CSN professors in support

During a public comment period, a few CSN professors said they were in support of using The Registry to appoint an acting president.

Communication professor Arnold Bell thanked regents for listening to concerns of individuals like himself and “countless others” about the culture at the college.

By using The Registry to identify an acting president, it’s the best move to make during crisis times, he said.

History professor Sondra Cosgrove said there’s an opportunity to “take the temperature” at the college and to see how faculty and staff envision the future.

There needs to be a process moving forward where every CSN employee has the opportunity to share their experiences and views without fear of retaliation, she said.

CSN Faculty Senate Chair Patrick Villa said: “We’re happy about the acting president from The Registry.”

Villa said he hopes there’s overlap between the acting president and Zaragoza before he retires.

It has been nine months since Zaragoza has announced his retirement, and no search has happened for a permanent president, he said.

Villa encouraged the board to start the search immediately.

Later during the meeting in response to a question by a regent, the same three professors said they’re in favor of someone coming in from the outside as an acting president versus someone from within the college.

“We have problems at CSN,” Cosgrove said.

She said she would prefer that problems be handled discreetly with someone from the outside rather than airing dirty laundry through the press or having someone get whistleblower status.

If someone from the inside is chosen as acting president, Cosgrove said, it could be someone who’s part of the problem.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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