Legal counselor Dan Klaich named higher ed chancellor

The outgoing leader of the state’s higher ed system: loud.

The new guy: polite, reserved, smart, a prolific e-mailer, a solid lobbyist, a bureaucrat, a system insider who knows where the bodies are hidden.

Jim Rogers and Dan Klaich are, in many ways, polar opposites.

As Rogers, 70, prepares to retire after five years at the top while the system deals with budget cuts, the governing Board of Regents unanimously appointed his No. 2 man the new chancellor on Thursday.

“I would like to thank you all for the opportunity to have the greatest job in the state of Nevada,” Executive Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich said upon his appointment. “Following Jim Rogers is going to be a real trick.”

Klaich, 59, will earn an annual salary of $303,000, with an annual car allowance of $8,000, a housing allowance of $24,000 and a $10,000 host account, totaling $345,000 a year. He currently earns $215,965 a year. Klaich is expected to split his time between Las Vegas and Reno, where he lives now.

Rogers, a multimillionaire who owns a chain of TV stations, earned virtually no salary; he was paid the minimum required by law, about $23,000, and donated it all back to the system.

Board Chairman Michael Wixom, responding to questions for Regent Cedric Crear, said Klaich’s salary and fringe benefits are typical for the position. Rogers’ deal, which he insisted upon, was unheard of.

The board approved a three-year contract for Klaich, with the provision that he could be fired at the discretion of the board. He starts July 1, one day after Rogers retires.

Klaich is a Nevada native who graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1972. He received a law degree from the University of Washington School of Law and practiced for 30 years before joining the state’s higher education system in 2004.

He previously served on the Board of Regents from 1983 to 1997, including two terms as board chairman, and worked as vice chancellor for legal affairs and administration and chief counsel for the system.

Wixom and others acknowledged criticism that the board is not conducting a national search to replace Rogers.

A typical search can cost in excess of $100,000.

They said the system is in dire shape right now, financially, and needs someone in charge who won’t have to follow a learning curve.

The regents are expected today to consider tuition hikes, salary cuts, furloughs and other cuts to deal with the shrinking budget.

Klaich has received praise from administrators, students and faculty as the behind-the-scenes man at this year’s legislative sessions. He and Rogers receive credit for apparently staving off cuts that could have been as high as 36 percent, which is what Gov. Jim Gibbons proposed. Instead, the Legislature cut the system’s budget by 12.5 percent.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

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