The Nevada Faculty Alliance, which represents higher education faculty, is demanding the Nevada System of Higher Education’s governing board discipline the board’s attorney and chief of staff.
The faculty are referencing Board of Regents Chief of Staff Dean Gould’s comments at the last regents’ meeting. Gould admonished Regent Lisa Levine for what he called her “child speak.” After quick criticism online for the following video of the exchange, Gould issued a public statement that was further critical of Levine.
“My reaction during today’s Board of Regents meeting was in response to a previous meeting (July 23, 2020), at which I was attempting to protect the Board from a possible open meetings law violation during the new business portion of the agenda and Regent Levine accused me of ‘mansplaining,'” Gould said. “I found this comment to be unprofessional and embarrassing and is not an appropriate way for an employer to speak to an employee. In retrospect, I should not have stooped to her level of acrimony.”
The faculty alliance are demanding the Board of Regents discipline Gould, calling his conduct part of the “broken culture” among the regents.
“His use of sexist language in an attempt to cut off her discussion regarding Title IX sexual harassment regulations was not only ironic but utterly unconscionable,” faculty said. “It appears this most recent breakdown of decorum reflects a more pervasive broken culture of Board of Regents proceedings.”
Read the faculty letter below.
Dear Chair Doubrava and members of the Board of Regents:
We have reviewed the audio recording of the August 7 meeting of the NSHE Board of Regents. The behavior of Chief of Staff Dean Gould toward Regent Lisa Levine was disrespectful and belittling. His use of sexist language in an attempt to cut off her discussion regarding Title IX sexual harassment regulations was not only ironic but utterly unconscionable. Mr. Gould’s contention that Regent Levine spoke without recognition by the Chair ignored the fact that other Regents had also spoken during the discussion without formally gaining the floor. Following the meeting, Chief of Staff Gould’s statement to the press fell far short of an apology and instead attacked Regent Levine yet again. All members of the NSHE community deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and without bias or discrimination.
As members of the State Board of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, representing the independent voice of faculty at all eight NSHE institutions, we call upon the Board of Regents to admonish Mr. Gould for his inappropriate language and further to take appropriate disciplinary action. Chair Doubrava should address Mr. Gould’s behavior in his annual evaluation. To address the possibility of future misbehavior,the Board of Regents Bylaws should be amended to provide for a disciplinary process for Regents, for the Chief of Staff, and for the employees who report to the Chief of Staff.
It appears this most recent breakdown of decorum reflects a more pervasive broken culture of Board of Regents proceedings. Under the guidance of Chief of Staff Gould, Chairs have misapplied parliamentary rules and used misinterpretations of the Nevada Open Meeting Law to limit discussion by the elected or appointed Regents and to control the decisions of the Board. Often, the Chief of Staff directly takes over the duties of the Chair of the body in controlling parliamentary process, rather than serving the Board in his advisory and secretarial role. These actions threaten transparency and give the appearance of bias against Regents who do not tow the establishment line.Training on parliamentary procedures, which are designed to allow open and civil discussion and decision-making among parties who may strongly disagree, should be provided to all members of the Board of Regents and staff.
There are also structural issues that limit free exchange of ideas in the furtherance of the Board’s legitimate business. The Board of Regents Bylaws allows agenda items to be added at the request of three or more Regents. Yet this rarely, if ever,occurs. Rather, the practice has been that individual Regents request future agenda items during New Business(information only), despite the fact that such requests are frequently ignored. Concern for violations of the Open Meetings law is appreciated;however, it should be made clear that Regents are free to discuss future agenda requests outside of meetings as long as a quorum (direct or serial) is not created. We recommend that New Business be made an action item on Board agendas,restricted to providing direction for future agenda items by the concurrence of at least three Regents. Indeed, in the spirit of the Open Meeting Law that would give the public advance warning of issues prior to release of agendas shortly before a meeting.
While the recent incident is a personnel issue with the Chief of Staff, who serves at the pleasure of the Board of Regents, it is also related to broader issues of the Board’s operations that could be improved for the benefit of transparency and accountability of the Nevada System of Higher Education. We call upon the Board of Regents to address both aspects of the problem to begin to repair endemic concerns.
Thank you for your service and consideration of these issues.
The State Board of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, Adrian Havas, NFA State President; Kent Ervin, NFA State Vice President; Theodore Chodock, NFA State Secretary; Daniel Cook, NFA State Treasurer; Shari Lyman, NFA Past President; Luis Ortega, CSN-NFA Chapter President; Peter Bagley, GBC-NFA Chapter President; Roberta Kaufman, NSC-NFA Chapter President; Cheryl Cardoza, TMCC-NFA Chapter President; Douglas Unger, UNLV-NFA Chapter President; John Nolan, UNR-NFA Chapter President; James Strange, WNC-NFA Chapter President
cc: Vice Chair Carol Del Carlo; Regents Patrick Carter, Amy Carvalho, Jason Geddes, Trevor Hayes, Lisa Levine, Cathy McAdoo, Donald McMichael, John Moran, Kevin Page, Laura Perkins, Rick Trachok; Chief of Staff Dean Gould; Chancellor Thom Reilly; Chancellor-Select Melody Rose