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Board of Regents District 7

Voters will see a pair of familiar names on the ballot this June when they choose their representative on Nevada’s higher education board in District 7.

Regent Mark Doubrava faces off for a second time against Lucille Thaler, a retired educator who is vying for his seat on the Board of Regents after an unsuccessful bid in 2010. Newcomer Daniel Rego joins the duo this year.

The incumbent and his two challengers disagree on one key issue: dismantling the Nevada System of Higher Education. They also have different ideas for a higher education wish list ahead of next year’s legislative session.

Doubrava, seeking re-election after his first term, thinks the board should consider removing the community colleges from the system’s purview so local governments govern them. He said the move would make those schools more responsive to workforce development as health and technology industries grow in Nevada.

“I’m not scared of reform if we think reform will improve our output,” Doubrava said.

But rather than splitting off the state’s community colleges, Rego thinks regents should further integrate them into the system. He wants to bolster research partnerships between the schools.

Thaler doesn’t think the system needs reform. Instead of an overhaul, she would like “an expansion of the current duties and responsibilities” for the 13-member panel that oversees it.

Regents7

Doubrava hopes lawmakers will consider investing more in the state’s universities when they gather in Carson City next year. The funding would better equip UNLV and UNR to train more specialized workers and wean the state’s economy from its dependence on tourism, he said.

Rego, meanwhile, wants the state to set up more benchmarks to track student success. Thaler thinks legislators should create a program to place education students as Clark County school teachers during their last semester in college.

“There’s an alarming shortage of qualified teachers,” Thaler said. “This could fulfill the void.”

Doubrava said the biggest struggle for Nevada’s colleges is persuading high schoolers to pursue higher education. Rego thinks their most daunting challenge is administrative bloat. He thinks regents should communicate more directly with students, professors and researchers to ensure the state is serving them well.

“Honestly, they’re the ones that should be determining what the universities need,” Rego said. “Students and professors don’t exist in order to give administrators fat salaries.”

Asked to identify the most pressing setback facing the state’s higher education institutions, Thaler said the system should develop ways to attract more out-of-state students.

Contact Ana Ley at aley@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Follow @la__ley on Twitter.

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