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NSHE Regent Trachok Vows to Repair Relations With Legislators, Stakeholders

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(AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, testifies at the Legislative Building in Carson City, Nev., on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.

Nevada System of Higher Education Regents reluctantly accepted the resignation of Chancellor Dan Klaich this week. 

The retirement came after a series of stories in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about emails between NSHE and an outside consulting group. Klaich was under fire from current and former lawmakers because emails apparently showed Klaich maneuvering with that outside group to get a legislative committee to change the funding formula for higher education in the state.

Board of Regents Chair Rick Trachok - and many stakeholders on different sides - say that the newer funding formula is better than the old one, but still has problems. Trachok told KNPR's State of Nevada he is addressing these problems, specifically getting more money to job training, which is a concern of business groups in Nevada.

"One thing that we brought forward... was a change to the funding formula and how we fund workforce development programs in our community colleges because it was apparent to us that that was one area that we needed to address."

Trachok said they'll be asking the Legislature and the governor for additional funding for these "expensive but necessary programs." 

The emails that led to Chancellor Klaich's resignation were published by Bethany Barnes at the Review-Journal. They showed what many lawmakers view as a condescending attitude toward members of the legislative committee that was looking into changing the funding formula. The emails also showed that NSHE may have passed their own work off as that of a think tank they hired. And there have been reports of reprisals to people who criticize Klaich or his staff.

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At Thursday's meeting, Regents focused on the loss of Chancellor Klaich, but didn't much address the distrust that the emails brought to the surface. .Trachok said repairing that distrust, and the system's relationship with lawmakers, is his number one priority.

"To the extent that there is any mistrust or distrust, it is our job to clear any of that up," he said, "And make sure that this session that the governor has said is going to be the session of higher education that we keep our eye on the ball and keep doing what is best for Nevada students."

Trachok also addressed accusations that NSHE staff don't listen to university and college presidents but instead decide what they want to do and move forward with their own ideas.

"Going forward... the direction will be, we solicit input from all of the presidents," he said, "We have public meetings where this will be discussed as part of the process and we're not going to tolerate anybody who tries to prevent any president from presenting their case for their institution at our meetings." 

Under the agreement with the regents, Klaich will be paid through the end of his contract which expires June of next year. He currently makes almost $335,000 in salary and stipends.

Chancellor Klaich teared up when he thanked the board. The final vote to accept his resignation was 12 to 1.

Guests

Rick Trachok, chair, Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents 

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