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NSHE Chancellor Reilly On His First 6 Months And Tackling The Stadium Deal

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(AP Photo/John Locher, File)
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In this May 11, 2017, file photo, a sign advertises the Raiders football team near a site for the team's stadium in Las Vegas.

When he was hired last year, Thom Reilly was envisioned as something of a welcome relief to Nevada’s relatively small university system.

Reilly is an academic with a long history in government, having served previously as manager of Clark County, one of the largest governmental agencies in the state.

He started full time as chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education in early August. He’s now been there about six months.

Almost immediately, he’s had massive issues to deal with, including the joint-use agreement that allows UNLV to use the new Raiders stadium.

The Board of Regents approved the agreement Friday. It now goes to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority for review. 

One of the stumbling blocks in that agreement was parking. The 65,000-seat stadium is required to have more than 16,000 parking spaces, but the site of the stadium only has room for 2,400. 

One of the ideas floated by the Raiders was to use UNLV parking lots on game days and big events. 

However, that was not something Reilly or the university was happy with because it would have required a 30-year agreement and they were concerned it would impact student parking.

"We couldn't accommodate that because we're a commuter school, parking is a challenge and under no circumstances were we willing to impact student parking," he said.

The Raiders and Clark County are now working on finding a solution to the stadium's parking challenges.

As far as game days for UNLV, fans will be able to use onsite parking at the stadium with the revenue going to UNLV. 

While Reilly stepped into the negotiations with the Raiders over stadium use, the real reason he wanted the position was to work on Nevada's higher education system.

He said one of the main efforts underway now at NSHE is setting five high-level goals for Nevada's colleges and universities. It is also changing how it measures whether the institutions have met those goals.

"Each of our institutions is required now to have peer and aspirational institutions," he said, "Peer are those that are at the same level and aspirational or stretch institutions that we on each of our goals have developed very specific metrics that we can look at nationally and we can look at peer and aspirational."

For example, he said instead of comparing the College of Southern Nevada with UNLV, it should be compared with other like community colleges in urban ethically diverse areas. And UNLV's peer institution is San Diego State University and its aspirational institution is Arizona State.

He said the new NSHE goals are focused on actually improving access to higher education because getting a higher education, whether it is a two-year certificate or a four-year degree, is the number one way to improve a person's socio-economic mobility. 

Thom Reilly, chancellor, Nevada System of Higher Education 

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.