The Nevada Board of Regents has an unfortunate history of showering taxpayer largess on its failures. It’s now on the verge of doing so once again.
In 2016, the board agreed to pay university system Chancellor Donald Klaich more than $300,000 to go away after the Review-Journal revealed he had misled lawmakers as they considered a bill to implement a new funding formula for the state’s seven colleges.
On Friday, the regents appear poised for a repeat performance. That’s when the 13-member elected panel, which oversees Nevada’s system of higher education, will consider the resignation of Chancellor Melody Rose, appointed less than two years ago. As part of a proposed separation agreement, the regents would buy out about half her remaining contract for $610,000.
Why the golden parachute?
Ms. Rose apparently decided on her own to leave her job, which pays $437,750 a year and includes an annual car allowance of $8,000 and a yearly housing stipend of $12,000, among other perks. But despite the nice paychecks, Ms. Rose had repeated run-ins with top regents and eventually accused the board chair and vice chair of gender discrimination and working to marginalize her input in order to get her fired.
Part of Ms. Rose’s job, of course, is to navigate the conflicting interests and objectives of more than a dozen regents from across the state. That can certainly present a significant challenge given the mediocre timbre of candidates who sometimes find themselves elected to the governing body.
In the end, however, Ms. Rose became hopelessly entangled in the workplace politics. In a 21-page memo that leaked last October, she alleged that some regents engaged in “abuse” and “harassing” behavior toward her. Two board members were temporarily removed from their leadership roles pending an outside investigation. But while the probe found possible ethical violations, it concluded in February that there was “insufficient evidence” to support the discrimination claims.
Less than two months later, Ms. Rose has announced her intention to leave.
It’s true that poor leadership and a general lack of accountability and competence have plagued the Board of Regents for decades. The chancellor’s office also hasn’t been immune from such inflictions. In 2020, voters narrowly rejected a constitutional amendment intended to make system officials more answerable to the Legislature.
Ultimately, though, if Ms. Rose has voluntarily decided to sever her relationship with Nevada’s university system, the regents are under no obligation to hand her a fat, six-figure taxpayer-funded check on her way out the door. Instead, they should reject the financial agreement and begin the long and difficult process of regaining the public trust by actually doing the jobs they were elected to do.