Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2014

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Health sciences gets ‘superstar’

RENO - Chancellor Jim Rogers' pet project, the health science system, has been transferred in to the hands of a new handler, with regents approving a $415,000 contract for an executive vice chancellor of health sciences.

Maurizio Trevisan, the founding dean of the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the State University of New York at Buffalo, will have free rein to put his stamp on the position and the health science system, Rogers said.

Trevisan is an internationally known and widely published epidemiologist in the field of cardiovascular and chronic disease s . He received his medical degree at the University of Naples in Italy.

Rogers called him a superstar, just the right person to launch the project.

"He's so excited about this job, and that gets you 80 percent of the way along on something like this," Rogers told regents. "He's got no rules. He can make it up as he goes along."

Critics and even Rogers had worried about finding someone for the position because the role does not have direct operating authority over health sciences but serves as a coordinator over the health sciences programs at two universities, a state college and four community colleges. The original search firm hired to find the vice chancellor bowed out over a rift with Rogers over the quality of candidates.

The second search attempt received a more enthusiastic response, said Rogers and Regent Dorothy Gallagher, who served on the search committee.

Rogers estimates it will take at least a decade and $1 billion in private and public funding to fully flesh out the fledging health science system, which aims to coordinate and expand all health science education programs, research and clinical care throughout the state.

The health science systems' first vice chancellor, former Clark County Manager Thom Reilly, quit just a few weeks into the job last August to take a job with Harrah's. Marcia Turner, the system's No. 2 executive, stepped in as interim vice chancellor.

Trevisan's salary, along with an $18,000 housing allowance and $8,000 car allowance, make him the highest paid executive in the Nevada System of Higher Education. The two university presidents make about $400,000, and Rogers, a millionaire media mogul, earns the minimum salary allowed by law, donating that and much more back to the system.

Nevada lawmakers provided construction dollars but no operating money for the health science system. Rogers is using $1.5 million in private donations and $1.5 million in investment income from system monies to cover this year's budget, including Trevisan's salary. The health sciences staff has to privately raise $38 million to match the $89 million in construction money provided by the state.