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Nevada higher education officials tab consultant in search for next chancellor

A committee tasked with finding Nevada’s next higher education boss has signed off on hiring a consultant to conduct a national search.

The panel on Friday unanimously voted to task two representatives from the Nevada System of Higher Education and one from the system’s overseeing Board of Regents with choosing a consultant before the committee convenes again on Dec. 6. The chancellor’s job is being temporarily held by law professor and former UNLV administrator John Valery White.

Board Chairman Rick Trachok assembled the group of 21 community leaders — including a representative from Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office — to make the selection, although only six committee members who also sit on the Board of Regents have voting power.

Some non-voting committee members appeared confused about their role in the selection process, unsure of their ability to influence decisions after they were told the group cannot alter the chancellor’s role.

“What is fair game to comment on at this point?” asked Kristin McMillan, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. She pointed to an item on the meeting’s agenda which seemed to imply that the group would be discussing and possibly changing the chancellor’s powers and duties.

“Is it a foregone conclusion that we’re going to deal with existing bylaws, for example, and there won’t be any opportunity to talk about changes to those bylaws?” McMillan continued. “I guess I’m somewhat confused in terms of what we are doing here, what our role is.”

The board previously said it hopes to have a permanent chancellor hired within a year, and that it wants to pick someone with a strong academic background — preferably one who has run a higher education system or served as a college president.

During Friday’s meeting, the board’s chief of staff, Dean Gould, asked panel members to share their own wish list so he can pass them along to the hired consultant.

“This is the best starting point I can give you,” Gould told McMillan, referring to a roughly assembled job description that system officials put together last month. “Quite candidly, we don’t have anything” else because the last search for a chancellor took place more than a decade ago and they are “starting from scratch, here.”

Contact Ana Ley at aley@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Follow @la__ley on Twitter.

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