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Regents come across as grabby with memo seeking free passes

Las Vegas is a town built on comps, but a recent memo from the Board of Regents came across as a blatant gimme.

Addressed to all the presidents of all the universities, colleges and community colleges and written by board Chairman Kevin Page and Vice Chairman Rick Trachok, the memo came across as heavy-handed and greedy. It included nearly identical language to one written in 2009 by then-Chairman James Dean Leavitt.

“We are writing to inform you that it is our intention to continue the existing protocol regarding invitations to NSHE (Nevada System of Higher Education) events,” the Page letter said.

It goes on to say it’s important to constituents that certain people participate in as many public functions as possible because that shows the board’s support and “exemplifies the dignity of the NSHE event, provides the representatives of the Board and the System an opportunity to extend the goodwill of the System and to promote the mission and goals of the System to the community, and fosters important relationships by providing the community access to the officers and representatives of the Board and the System.”

The letter specified that each institution should extend invitations to the 13 regents, the chancellor and the board’s chief of staff to attend campus events.

The list of events included is long and would certainly make regents feel popular and fill up their calendars. They are to be invited to faculty and student award ceremonies, commencements, Distinguished Nevadans ceremonies and social events, donor recognitions, special keynote lectures, conferences, building dedications and groundbreaking ceremonies, diversity-related events, and guest campus appearances. And, last but not least, don’t forget athletic events.

Oh, and the invite should be for two, so the educational leaders can bring a “personal guest.”

Some regents have been seen showing up at basketball games with more than one family member. If they’re paying for multiple children and grandchildren, good for them. If they’re not, well, now they know the policy.

A source, who would lose a job if on the record, called the letter “a less than subtle way to say that all regents get free passes to all football and basketball games. I doubt if many show up for women’s volleyball games.”

Obviously, the letter annoyed at least one system employee or it never would have been sent to me.

In an email, Page wrote the memo was issued to continue the existing protocol. “If your source has indicated anything to the contrary, they are misleading you,” he wrote. Nor was it written to reign in any abuses, according to Page.

I always assumed the regents were attending everything for free. After all, they don’t get any salary and they only get a per diem for meetings, so it’s not like they’re getting rich off the job.

Their benefits, aside from knowing they are setting higher-ed policy, is that the job can be a stepping stone to higher office (Shelley Berkley comes to mind) or it’s a job to have something to do in retirement years (Jack Lund Schofield comes to mind).

The memo seemed demanding, even if it was not meant that way.

It also left the impression that the presidents of Nevada’s universities, colleges and community colleges were not smart enough to know to invite regents to events. Could it be that some presidents were not inviting all regents to all things?

The memo didn’t sit well with the person who shared it with me, doesn’t sit well with me, not because of what it does, but because of how it sounds.

Why do so few people understand that perception can be deadly, that a memo that sounds arrogant can be easily misconstrued, even if it’s unintentional and copied from a prior memo?

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at 702-383-0275.

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