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December 21, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: HIGHER EDUCATION

Attendees at the Board of Regents meeting Thursday and Friday in Reno might get a sense of deja vu.

Slated for discussion: whether to revoke Chancellor Jim Rogers' power to discipline presidents and restrict his ability to create positions within the Nevada System of Higher Education.

The issues have come up again and again on regent s agendas during the past three years - first as Rogers sought the powers and then as divided regents continued to argue whether they had been wise to grant Rogers' request.

Regents have never mustered the seven votes needed to curtail Rogers' powers. The issue began to gain traction again after a dispute between Rogers and two regents almost led to a parting of the ways in January and has appeared on several regent agendas since.

Tension between Rogers and regents peaked in June, but at the time, regents couldn't vote on whether to revoke his powers because it takes two meetings to make such a change.

Regents focused instead on his evaluation. A consultant found that regents were so divided in their evaluation of Rogers that formal mediation might be needed. Rogers and regents pledged to get along, and by all appearances, they have.

But regents will still get to vote - again - on how much power they want their chancellor to have.

Another item regents were expected to vote on is conspicuously absent from the agenda for Thursday's diversity and security committee meeting.

Regents were to vote on a plan initiated by regent and police Capt. Stavros Anthony to offer reserve police training to university faculty and staff on a volunteer basis. Under the plan, those staff could then carry guns on campus and help campus police.

Anthony said he pulled the item from Thursday's agenda because he was unable to attend the committee meeting , and to give campus police chiefs more time to develop the plan. He plans to have it back on the agenda come October.

Nonetheless, regents will discuss on Thursday whether they need to step up security at their own meetings.

University presidents, under the gun from Rogers to be more involved in community affairs, are asking regents to more than triple the amount they are allowed to spend at charity events throughout the year, from $30,000 to $100,000, and for permission to sponsor tables at events sponsored by other Nevada universities and colleges.

Rogers has all but mandated that presidents support their fellow institutions, which includes attending one another's events, said Dan Klaich, the executive vice chancellor.

Regents had initially prohibited buying tables at other institutions because they thought that donor money was just being transferred back and forth.

The current $30,000 cap also doesn't go far, Klaich said, because table purchases are more expensive now then they were when the limit was put in place in 2001. The money comes from non-state, discretionary accounts.

Regents are to consider the request Friday.

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