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Desert Research Institute’s acting leader gets job permanently

Updated September 11, 2020 - 4:09 pm

The Desert Research Institute’s interim President Kumud Acharya will fill the position permanently.

Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents voted to approve a four-year contract with Acharya, which runs through Sept. 11, 2024, at its two-day meeting ending Friday.

Acharya, who was appointed interim president in September 2019, will receive a $320,000 annual base salary.

“I am honored to be selected by the Board of Regents, Chancellor (Melody) Rose, and the faculty and staff to serve this great institution,” Acharya said in a statement. “I am humbled by the trust that the faculty and staff have placed in me and I will work to further DRI’s mission of performing world-class scientific research to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the world.”

DRI, an environmental research institute, has campuses in Las Vegas and Reno.

Acharya came to DRI in 2006 as an assistant research professor. He’s an ecological engineer “whose pioneering work in Nevada helped local and state water managers address aquatic invasive species threatening both Lake Mead and Lake Tahoe,” according to a statement from NSHE.

Rose, the new NSHE chancellor, said in the statement: “President Acharya is a highly respected and well admired scientist by his colleagues and the institute community. I am confident he is the right person to lead DRI moving forward.”

During their meetings, regents also:

— Approved a five-year information technology services contract with Synoptek for the College of Southern Nevada, totaling $7.2 million annually.

Regent Laura Perkins opposed the motion. She said she had questions and concerns, given it’s a large sum of money even if it’s less than what CSN was previously paying.

She said what was missing from the presentation was a cost comparison with bringing the services in-house and looking at sister schools to see if there are ways to lessen the financial impact.

CSN President Federico Zaragoza told the board the contract is a continuation for a third-party vendor agreement that has been in place for 14 years. He said it’s not a new expense for CSN and the contract represents a “major cost savings opportunity for us.”

The college says the contract results in a $3.48 million cost savings over five years, according to meeting materials.

— Approved a letter of intent between the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and Renown Health “that creates a process for exploring a high-level affiliation and integration of clinical practice, clinical teaching and clinical research components of UNR Med with Renown Health …” according to meeting materials.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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