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Regents appoint Erquiaga acting chancellor of higher ed. system

By Bob Conrad

The Nevada Board of Regents, which oversees the Nevada System of Higher Education, today elected Dale Equiaga as acting chancellor of NSHE.

Erquiaga said he was honored to accept the position for 18 months, the time of his contract, but added he has no desire to take the position permanently. 

The regents, on day one of a two-day meeting, met at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“It has been almost 41 years since I stepped foot on this campus as a freshman,” Erquiaga said after he was nearly unanimously selected. “And someone today said to me that my life has come full circle today. 

“I am a son of the Silver State, the grandson of immigrants to this country from the Basque Country, who has given over most of my life to improving the lives of others, and I like to believe that that disposition began here on this campus.”

His appointment was not without disagreement. Some regents criticized the process by which he was selected. Regents bylaws, the board’s attorney said, allows board Chair Kathy McAdoo to put forward names for an acting chancellor.

McAdoo said she followed the process outlined in regent rules, which mandates she meet with NSHE presidents and faculty senate chairs. 

“I followed the criteria in the code, and I’m bringing to you today a candidate who I believe is best prepared to lead this system until a permanent chancellor is elected,” she said.

Regent Lois Tarkanian said people called her with concerns.

“I really feel [we] have not, in this case, been as open as we should have been,” she said.

The board’s attorney, James Martines, said he recognized why people would find the process flawed.

“It’s a fairly simple process, and I know there’s concerns with the process in that it’s perhaps over simplified or not as inclusive as it could be,” he said. “While [the process] doesn’t include all of the board, what it does do is it gives the board the flexibility and agility to make quick decisions in these types of circumstances.”

McAdoo said she picked Erquiaga because he is a Nevadan, can oversee a budget process and is familiar with working with the Nevada Legislature.

“I sought input from many groups, including the presidents, faculty senate chairs, students, system staff and the community at large,” McAdoo added. “At no point in this process was any individual ever precluded from contacting me.”

Regent John Moran of Clark County voted against the approval. Moran said he did not agree with the process by which Erquiaga was selected.

Erquiaga will make $300,000 a year for the 18-month contract.

“No matter where you voted today, or what you said in discussion, I understand it,” Erquiaga told the regents. “I understand all of it. And I will work for and with all of you just the same.”

Erquiaga was former Gov. Brain Sandoval’s chief strategy officer and senior advisor – two separate positions at different points in time. Sandoval is now president of UNR. Erquiaga was also state superintendent of public instruction from 2013 to 2015. He was appointed to the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities at UNR in January.

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