Search begins for interim UNLV leader

The search for an interim president at UNLV begins today with a series of meetings between key higher education leaders and constituencies from the university.

Higher education Chancellor Dan Klaich said he hopes to have a recommendation for the Board of Regents by Aug. 1. It is likely that the regents would then hold a special meeting to name the new leader.

A search for a permanent president will likely begin in the fall, with the new president taking over after the academic year is complete.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas President David Ashley was removed from office Friday. Provost Neal Smatresk was named acting president.

Names circulating within higher education circles as possible interim president include current and former UNLV employees, as well as a few outsiders who are familiar with the university.

Klaich has set up meetings, which start today, with faculty, alumni, students and administrators to discuss what they’d like to see in an interim president. The meetings will also include Board of Regents Chairman James Dean Leavitt.

“I’m gathering facts to make a recommendation,” Klaich said. “I’m going to sit and listen.”

Klaich said the meetings will be informal and are not open to the public. Specific people might be discussed, he said, and it would not be fair to them if comments about them suddenly appeared in the newspaper.

In addition, he said, holding the meetings in public might cause some people to withhold their opinions about possible candidates for the job.

When the formal search is launched in the fall, Klaich and Leavitt pledged the process would be open to the public.

Both men said they want a leader who can take over UNLV right away without having to spend months learning about the university and the system.

In addition, they’d like someone who can tackle fundraising and can establish relationships with faculty, alumni, staff and students — areas Ashley was criticized for.

John Filler, chairman of the UNLV faculty senate, said he hopes the selection process goes smoothly after what he called a “painful” ending to Ashley’s presidency.

Adam Cronis, UNLV student body president, said the names he’s been hearing as possible interim presidents are all strong. “Whoever’s chosen, as long as they exhibit that passion, as long as they advocate for the students and the faculty and staff, it’s going to be great,” he said.

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

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