Board of Regents Names Coloradan as Next DRI President

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By Carla O’Day

Kristen Averyt
Kristen Averyt. Photo: University of Colorado

The Nevada Board of Regents on Friday hired a new president of Desert Research Institute who will assume the post in July.

Kristen Averyt is currently associate director for science for the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Averyt previously served the university as director of its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program. She has a doctoral degree in geological and environmental science from Stanford University, a masters in chemistry from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and bachelors degrees in chemistry and marine science from the University of Miami (Florida).

District 11 Regent Jason Geddes said finalists interviewed were scientifically outstanding but Averyt has a great plan for communicating what DRI can do nationally and internationally.

“She is a proven leader with a deep understanding of environmental research and we feel she will make a great leader at DRI,” said Geddes, who chaired the president search committee. “Dr. Averyt will help to advance DRI and the Nevada System of Higher Education and will serve as a tremendous resource to the entire state as we help to build the new Nevada economy.”

Regents agreed on a $310,000 annual base salary for Averyt, a car allowance of $8,000 and housing allowance of $24,000 each fiscal year. Her initial contract is for 3 years and she may earn a bonus of up to $10,000 annually for achieving fundraising target goals.

Regents Chairman Rick Trachock said it’s nice to see the salary of a president being brought up closer to what athletic coaches are paid.

“I question why you went into academia and not football,” Trachock said to Averyt as laughter broke out in the boardroom.

Averyt said she was honored.

“I look forward to working with the faculty, students, and staff to enhance DRI’s global reputation for scientific excellence, while fostering new opportunities and partnerships that will help us better understand our changing environment and the implications for Nevada, the region, and the world,” she said.

DRI is the environmental research arm of the state system of higher education with main campuses in Reno and Las Vegas. It also has a site in Boulder City and its Storm Peak Lab is in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Robert Gagosian had been serving as DRI’s acting president since president Stephen Wells stepped down last year to take a position in New Mexico.

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Carla O'Day
About Carla O'Day 280 Articles

Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.