Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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Chancellor in defense of health proposal

University system Chancellor Jim Rogers got testy last week when he thought people were trying to derail a billion-dollar academic health science center that he supports.

Rogers has been a major proponent of expanding the Nevada School of Medicine and creating a health science center in Las Vegas to improve patient care in the city.

He grew frustrated with Las Vegas doctors in a task force meeting Tuesday and then with regents during a budget meeting Thursday for questioning whether the Nevada System of Higher Education could raise the $270 million needed to get the project off the ground. Both groups had a lot of questions about how the money would be spent, and several doctors thought even more money would be needed.

Rogers said he wanted to include everyone's input, but not to the point that people get veto power.

"It distresses me greatly whenever I start to sense anyone throwing the anchor out of the boat," Rogers said.

Elko Regent Dorothy Gallagher and Reno Regent Howard Rosenberg have accused Rogers of having tunnel vision when it comes to the health science center. Rogers said his passion is driven by the need to improve health care in Nevada.

"This is the future of medical care in this state. If you guys want to torpedo it, you can, but we'll end up in the 18th century," Rogers told regents.

"For the first time in a long time, the mood of the public out there is to build something like this. The time is now to do it."

It appears that UNLV engineering professor Biswajit Das will have to wait another four months to get approval from the Board of Regents to launch his proposed nanotechnology program.

Das, a world-renowned expert in manufacturing electronics too small to be viewed by the naked eye, has spent the last three years developing the center and building his laboratory at UNLV. He expected regents on June 8 to approve the center's opening.

Somehow, the request didn't reach the provost's office at UNLV until last week, even though it was approved by the university's research council in February.

UNLV officials were not sure how the proposal slipped through the cracks, spokeswoman Hilarie Grey said. The research office and the provost office are currently going through leadership changes.

Das' proposal should be approved by a statewide academic affairs committee in August, and then it will go to regents for approval in October.

Red tape and limited resources have continuously slowed down his progress, said Das, whose wife volunteers full time to help him run his laboratory.

"Without the regents' approval, the nano research center's progress is clearly stunted," Das said.

This week in Reno, the Board of Regents will consider whether to refine free speech policies on the higher education system's eight campuses to bring them in line with each other.

Each university or college has different regulations for when and where protesters can be on campus.

UNLV, for instance, has free speech zones but does not require visitors to register before speaking on campus. UNR, however, asks visitors to check in.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada asked regents to look at the policy in March when regents were considering whether they could restrict violence-promoting hip-hop acts from campus.

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