NSHE Board of Regents Unanimously Elects Brian Sandoval as Next UNR President

Brian Sandoval was unanimously elected by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents to be the next president of the University of Nevada, Reno, this afternoon. The former Nevada Governor is a UNR graduate who has served in all three branches of the government. He will be the university’s 17th president and first Latino to occupy the post.

Incoming UNR President Sandoval thanked many people, including multiple Board of Regents members, his family, and outgoing President Marc Johnson during Thursday’s proceedings. “It is the honor of a lifetime to be elected the next president of the University of Nevada, Reno,” Sandoval said.

Early Approval and Concerns

Many people had a positive outlook after the UNR President Search Committee announced their recommendation of Sandoval yesterday, which was made official today.

Via Instagram, student Nate Vazquez said Sandoval “would be great for raising money and has a chance to bring back sports.”

Another student on Snapchat said he liked how Sandoval was a registered Republican while making seemingly liberal policies and “didn’t ride party lines.”

Wolf Pack grad and Representative for Nevada’s Fourth Congressional District Steven Horsford publicly congratulated Sandoval.

Others had a more critical view. Via Snapchat, UNR student Ellie Somers expressed concern that Sandoval doesn’t have enough experience in leading higher education. “Sandoval does have political experience, but that doesn’t mean that he’s the best choice to lead an institution of higher education,” Somers wrote.

Regent Rick Trachok motioned for the election of Sandoval. He was appointed to serve on the Board of Regents by former Gov. Sandoval in 2011. ASUN President Dominique Hall raised issues of conflict of interest possibilities in the selection process.

Selecting Sandoval: A Timeline

The Sandoval era will begin at UNR amid COVID-19 restrictions and budget difficulties. In late 2019, Marc Johnson announced his transition to faculty would take place in June 2020. The NSHE Board of Regents held initial forums and started writing a job description in November and approved the nationwide search in December.

The search ground to a halt in March when the state shutdown caused the University to close the campus.

In April, it was announced by the Office of the President that Marc Johnson would stay in his position until 2021, or until his successor had been named. Applications for the new president were accepted through early August, with campus tours and interviews for finalists just a few days ago in mid-September.

The search firm Witt Kieffer received over 100 applicants for the position and gave 21 of them an ‘A’ ranking. The four semi-finalists were chosen from this category.

According to Regent Rick Trachok, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, 22 of the 27 members named Sandoval as their first choice with the remaining five members naming him as their second choice. After their meeting on September 16, the committee made its official recommendation for Sandoval.

Some members met in the JCSU ballrooms for this meeting while others attended via a video call. The meeting was live-streamed on YouTube for public access.

The Job Description

The President Leadership Profile detailed various expectations and qualifications for would-be presidential candidates as well as general information about the university.

Some of the expectations for the candidates were to continue to grow UNR, keep retention rates, promote diversity on campus, and increase research.

Along with that, the president needs to “demonstrate inspiring and entrepreneurial leadership qualities, significant administrative and leadership experience and a considerable track record of success.” Time will tell whether Sandoval, the 29th Governor of Nevada from 2011 to 2019, and previously a federal district judge, will fulfill expectations in uncertain and changing times for academia.

Reporting by Catherine Schofield for the Reynolds Sandbox

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