Richard Moore’s zeal for helping people went far beyond his career as a teacher and college president. It even spread to the checkout line at the grocery store.
For years, when Moore would find himself in line behind someone who seemed to be struggling to afford what was in their cart, he would politely interrupt and pose an oddly easy trivia question: Do you know who the president of the United States is?
When the shopper would answer correctly, Moore would announce: “You have won groceries for today!” He’d then pay their bill.
The same desire to help the underdog fueled his career, said his wife of 32 years, Susan Moore.
Richard Moore, who served as president of both the College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College in Henderson, died Dec. 27 from complications of cancer. He was 82 and lived in Las Vegas.
Led CSN’s expansion
Moore was credited with leading a dramatic expansion of CSN’s enrollment in the 1990s, when Clark County was the fastest-growing place in the nation.
Patty Charlton, who has worked at CSN for 20 years, laughed as she described serving under Moore this way: “Hold on for the ride.”
In one year, the college hired more than 100 new faculty members. Student enrollment grew by 26 percent — also in a single year.
The school had to keep pace with the Las Vegas area’s rapid growth. But Moore also pushed to grow fast because he believed in making higher education available to as many people as possible, said his brother-in-law, Paul Van Slambrouck.
A lengthy profile of Moore in the Las Vegas Sun in 1997, three years into his time at CSN, portrayed him as a sometimes polarizing figure. Some faculty members thought he was changing too much, too fast, without thinking it through.
That was no surprise to Van Slambrouck, who said, “He was not a status quo guy.”
Moore was born in Seattle in 1933 and grew up mostly in Los Angeles. He earned a doctorate in economics from Claremont Graduate University and was president of Santa Monica College from 1974 to 1994, when he moved to Nevada.
In 1999, Moore became the founding president of Nevada State College, a role he held until 2002.
Everywhere he worked, family and colleagues said, he tried to change things for the better — and quickly.
“He was sort of the ultimate go-for-it guy,” Van Slambrouck said. “Do what really excites you; do what you’re passionate about. He wasn’t conservative or careful by nature; he was just forward moving.”
Moore called blunt, passionate
Moore wasn’t into subtle, in word or deed.
He laced CSN’s Charleston campus with neon — “the only community college you could see from outer space,” as Charlton put it. (It’s since been toned down.)
And when speaking, he was usually blunt.
“You always knew where you stood, and you always knew where we were going,” said Charlton, who was budget director under Moore and is now senior vice president at CSN.
Moore was passionate about more than education, Van Slambrouck said. He loved music and art; at Santa Monica College, he sometimes started the semester’s first staff meeting with a performance by a classical pianist.
When Moore became interested in something, he didn’t go halfway. Van Slambrouck recalled one visit to the Moore home when he was surprised to learn that Richard — never known to be a sports fan — was suddenly a Peyton Manning fanatic who knew every fact about the NFL star.
Moore is survived by his wife, as well as five daughters, a son and five grandchildren. They asked that anyone wanting to honor Moore do so through “an unexpected act of grace.”
After retiring in his late 60s from being an administrator, Moore returned to the classroom to teach economics and business.
He relished going back to his roots. Moore’s profile on the Nevada State College website described his nearly 50 years being an administrator as a “detour” from teaching — one that was “way too long.”
Susan Moore said her husband loved helping nontraditional students: seniors, disabled people, international students and those who are the first in their families to go to college. Anyone, in short, who might not be able to earn a degree without the help a community college offers.
As CSN president, Charlton said, Moore pushed to increase adult enrollment, start an online learning program and bolster partnerships with the Clark County School District, among other things.
“He really saw us as being the community’s college,” Charlton said.
Contact Eric Hartley at email@example.com or 702-550-9229. Find him on Twitter: @ethartley