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UNLV will award honorary doctorate to late regent Sam Lieberman

Updated June 12, 2020 - 9:36 am

UNLV will award an honorary doctorate degree posthumously to the late higher education regent Sam Lieberman, who died in April.

The Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents voted Thursday to approve three agenda items related to honoring Lieberman.

Lieberman died unexpectedly April 3 at age 58 while in office. He was planning to seek reelection for the District 5 seat, which covers parts of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County.

UNLV President Marta Meana told regents Thursday that Lieberman was a constant presence at UNLV events and championed the power of higher education to change lives.

“Sam was truly a force for good when it came to helping people further their lives through education,” she said.

Lieberman was a 1996 alumnus of UNLV, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in social work. He was elected to the Board of Regents in 2014 and was sworn in January 2015. He also served as chairman of the Nevada State Democratic Party from 2008-11.

During their Thursday meeting, NSHE regents also voted to give the 2020 Distinguished Nevadan Award to Lieberman posthumously. And the board adopted a resolution to honor Lieberman and renamed the Regents’ Scholar Award to the Sam Lieberman Regents’ Award for Student Scholarship.

NSHE awards a $5,000 scholarship each year to eight students. Awards are given based on factors such as academic accomplishments, leadership and service.

Regent Lisa Levine — who was appointed to fill the board vacancy following Lieberman’s death — said Thursday that Lieberman was a close friend and mentor. “He truly was a champion for education — especially for the state of Nevada.”

After the votes, board chairman Jason Geddes thanked his fellow regents for recognizing Lieberman. “We all know how much Sam would appreciate that.”

In a written statement Thursday, board chairman Geddes said: “Speaking on behalf of the Board, I can say we all miss Sam terribly. His passion for Nevada’s public higher education system was infectious and he cared very deeply about students. It is appropriate that we honor Sam’s memory in this way.”

NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly said the higher education community is heartbroken by Lieberman’s untimely death and that the actions Thursday are a great way to recognize him.

Moment of silence

At the beginning of Thursday’s meeting, Geddes asked regents to observe a moment of silence “for all those affected by the racial tensions in our country.”

During his chancellor’s report, Reilly said NSHE is working with both of its university police chiefs on a virtual town meeting on race, which will be put together within the next two weeks.

Meana told regents: “At UNLV, we are directly addressing the safety and well-being of our African American community as we prepare to return to campus this fall” and will create an action plan.

Reopening plans

Reilly told regents that college and university presidents continue to work on reopening plans, which are being vetted by an internal task force.

The deadline is June 30 for fall plans, which will be presented to NSHE regents in July.

Reilly also gave an update on enrollment for summer and fall. “Obviously, enrollment is top of mind,” he said, adding numbers are still fluctuating.

UNR is expecting a drop for summer and fall, Reilly said, while UNLV is up 6 percent for summer and flat for fall. College of Southern Nevada expects fairly flat enrollment this summer and fall numbers are up 10 percent so far. Nevada State College is expecting a 15 percent increase this fall.

Fee increases for some

Regents approved tuition and registration fee increases for the 2021-23 biennium: 3 percent annual increase for the UNLV School of Medicine, 2.8 percent annual increase for resident students for the UNR School of Medicine and 4 percent annual increase for the UNLV Boyd School of Law. A few regents opposed the increases.

For the UNLV Boyd School of Law, the increase is being pursued because the school “must increase revenue to maintain the long-term sustainability of the current program,” according to meeting materials.

The UNLV School of Medicine increase represents “an inflation adjustment and covers the cost of providing high quality medical education,” according to meeting materials.

Not raising tuition and fees would cause slower growth in the number of students the program can accept, which would mean fewer physicians graduating, according to the materials. And the school says it’s too soon to implement “a predictable pricing model.”

The increase will bring the cost for full-time resident tuition to $27,000 for 2020-21, $27,810 for 2021-22 and $28,644 for 2022-23. For nonresident students, it will be $56,000 for 2020-21, $57,680 for 2021-22 and $59,410 for 2022-23.

For the UNR School of Medicine, the increase will provide “critical funding to continue the educational experience of medical (students).” Resident students will pay $29,386 for 2020-21, $30,209 for 2021-22 and $31,055 for 2022-23.

President evaluations  

Regents approved evaluation reports for CSN President Federico Zaragoza, Truckee Meadows Community College President Karin Hilgersom and Western Nevada College President Vincent Solis.

Regents are slated to take action Friday on whether to renew employment contracts.

Regents Rick Trachok and Geddes voted “no” on accepting the report for Hilgersom, saying they won’t support the contract renewal. Trachok expressed concerns about Hilgersom’s job performance and the results of evaluation surveys, and Geddes said he’d oppose based on the reasons Trachok had outlined.

Election of officers

Mark Doubrava was selected as board chairman and Carol Del Carlo was selected as vice chairwoman. They’ll serve in those roles for one year, starting July 1.

NSHE regents have another meeting at 10 a.m. Friday. It will be streamed live on NSHE’s website.

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

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