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Jeffrey Downs

Jeffrey Downs
Jeffrey Downs
/

Name

Jeffrey Downs

Occupation

Community College Professor

Political Office

University Board of Regents District 11

Political Affiliation

Republican

How would you describe yourself to voters?

I consider myself as an everyday person who will represent the concerns of the average person to the Board of Regents. Through my experience as a college professor, college vice president, collective bargaining negotiator (on the behalf of the faculty), scout leader, and church member, I have a broad perspective to share with the Board and the ability to represent varied interests and concerns.

What do you see as the top issues in this campaign?

The top priority is to make the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) work for the people of Nevada. There are several adjoining concerns, but that is the goal. NSHE needs to serve people both as an system of higher education offering baccalaureate and graduate education, but must also have greater reach in workforce training. Having effective certificate programs that are accessible to a wide range of Nevada workers must be the expanded mission of NSHE. My goal is to make this happen. In order to get to that point, the Board of Regents needs to rebuild the relationship it has with the Nevada State Legislature. Working with K-12, NSHE can help improve the quality of education students get prior to coming to NSHE schools, as well as provide "homegrown" teachers that can graduate from NSHE institutions and return to the school districts from which they came.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the state’s colleges and universities?

The biggest challenge is funding. NSHE has suffered repeated and drastic funding cuts. This is due to many factors, but also includes the strained relationship that the Board of Regents has with the Nevada State Legislature. This relationship needs to be restored and strengthened. In many ways it is necessary for NSHE to educate the legislators on what NSHE is doing and can become. As we search for a new chancellor, this must be a requirement of the job and a characteristic that the new chancellor possesses. In addition, we need to work with Nevada K-12 on developing effective programs that will send a message to the legislature that funding all levels of education in Nevada is necessary.

In late 2021, former Chancellor Melody Rose filed a hostile workplace complaint alleging sexual discrimination and that some regents were undermining her. An investigation could not substantiate the sexual harassment, but it did note possible ethics violations. It also noted factionalism and tensions among board members. How would you, as a Regent, work to ease tensions on the board?

Coming together as a board is absolutely necessary. It is okay and expected for regents to have different philosophies and ways to achieve goals. What we need to do, though, is remind ourselves of the ultimate purpose for NSHE and find ways to work together to meet those goals. When I was a vice president at Western Nevada College (WNC), I had the honor to meet with regents from across the state. In some cases it was during a tour of local industry in discussing ways we can serve the academic needs

What should the board look for in a new Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor?

The new chancellor needs to be someone who can connect with the Nevada. This means many things given the broad demographics of Nevada. The chancellor needs to be someone who understands rural Nevada, while also understanding urban and suburban residents. In addition, the new leader for NSHE needs to be able to develop relationships with businesses, both in Nevada and those coming to Nevada. It is important that the programs NSHE offers are and will be conducive to the needs of industry in Nevada, both present and prospective. Finally, the chancellor needs to be able to reestablish the relationship between the Board of Regents/NSHE and the Nevada State Legislature. This person needs to be confident in themself, but also be sufficiently humble to listen to others. Coming in with a set agenda without understanding the unique needs of Nevada will lead to the most recent results.