New candidate emerges for Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor

A tumultuous six-month search for a permanent Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor has unearthed a new candidate.

Dr. Thom Reilly, director of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, suddenly appeared in a statement Tuesday as the sole name being considered for the job.

“The committee had given me an assignment to check internally for candidates and then expanded it to include people across Nevada,” said Kevin Page, chairman of the chancellor search committee. “His name kept coming up in my conversations with people.”

A national search to replace acting Chancellor John White started in December but was suspended four months later when the top five semifinalists dropped out. The regents began looking for internal candidates.

White was identified, but the day before he was to be appointed, he backed out.

The search committee directed Page to continue searching for internal candidates while also expanding the search to include people with Nevada ties.

Page called Reilly, who previously served as county manager for Clark County and vice chancellor of the NSHE Health Sciences System, a “diamond in the rough.”

“I feel very confident,” Page said. “He’s an outstanding leader. He knows Nevada. He’s a hard worker. … He has taught on our campuses, worked with an elected board and has the academic credentials.”

Public forums, with sites and times to be determined, will run June 22 at campuses in Las Vegas and Henderson and June 23 at campuses in Reno and Carson City. An online survey will be made available at the public forums with feedback compiled and presented during a search committee meeting at 9 a.m. June 26.

Pending Reilly’s recommendation as a candidate by the search committee, the full board will convene for a special meeting June 26 to vote on his appointment.

Regent Trevor Hayes said he is interested in hearing about Reilly’s vision for the system and the chancellor’s role, his managerial style and his strategy for working with the board.


Contact Natalie Bruzda at or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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