Reilly gets high marks in first evaluation as NSHE chancellor

Updated September 7, 2018 - 4:39 pm

The Nevada Board of Regents on Friday gave the state’s higher education chief a uniformly positive evaluation, and with it, a 3 percent raise.

Thom Reilly, who recently completed his first year as chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, will now earn $437,750. He made a $425,000 last year.

“You have really set a fabulous groundwork for things,” said Regent Carol Del Carlo, while also thanking him for his vision, leadership and hard work. “I think you’re the right person at the right time.”

Board Chairman Kevin Page evaluated Reilly on several metrics, including his relations with the board, NSHE institutions and external communities, his decision making and problem-solving abilities, and his implementation of the system’s new strategic goals.

In his self-evaluation, Reilly noted that “significant and challenging” operational concerns at UNLV demanded about 80 percent of his attention, including concerns at the medical school, the dental school, police services, human resources and other areas.

Reilly first outlined the university’s operational deficiencies in March — nearly a week after former UNLV President Len Jessup announced that he was job hunting, and about two months after Reilly completed an evaluation that detailed “several weaknesses” in Jessup’s performance. Reilly also became concerned, and sought an outside legal opinion, after he learned that Jessup signed a donation agreement with the Engelstad Family Foundation requiring him to remain in his position as president through 2022.

Reilly said he enjoys the “big-picture thinking” that’s required of the chancellor, and looks forward to focusing more of his energy on moving the system forward in the coming year.

“The amount of time I spent on the UNLV concerns distracted from that,” Reilly said. “I’m looking forward to the next year focusing on the bigger-picture work, and working with the regents, the community and legislators.”

Page’s recommendations reflected some of these concerns. He suggested that Reilly spend more time with other college presidents in advancing their goals.

Other recommendations include involving the regents more frequently in meetings with community groups, creating a stronger team environment with his cabinet-level staff and developing a succession plan. Reilly’s contract runs through Aug. 7, 2020.

Regent Allison Stephens said Page’s assessment was “spot-on,” however, she had some concerns about how the situation with Jessup was handled.

“I would have appreciated that going in a different direction,” she said.

Regent Sam Lieberman also noted Reilly’s work in developing community partnerships, including the new MGM College Opportunity Program that the board approved Friday morning. The program will cover the cost for MGM employees to enroll in distance education programs at any of Nevada’s seven public schools.

Reilly said that other partnerships, which will be focused on student graduation and workforce development, are in the works. He also wants to have an “honest dialogue” with the regents and institutions about increasing graduation rates and research productivity, and holding the colleges accountable.

“Now that we’ve identified goals, we want to get very specific,” he said. “What are we putting in place to actually achieve the goals?”

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

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