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What's Left To Do For Thom Reilly, University System?


Just two years into his job, Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly announced he will be leaving next year.

His tenure as head of the of Nevada’s university system hasn’t been entirely easy.

Less than a year after Reilly was hired, UNLV’s president Len Jessup. resigned abruptly. That angered a donor, who blamed the system and took back millions promised for UNLV’s medical school.

Then earlier this year, the university system got 11 percent more money from the state. But the two major schools, UNR and UNLV, received no money for research—just months after both were named top-tier research institutions.

Reilly said in the future the universities must do a better job of explaining why funding for research is important. 

"It was clear in talking to many legislators that they didn't necessarily see the value of it," he said, "We have to do a better job explaining why we do research. How research drives economic development. How it drives workforce. And we do research to solve community problems."

With the loss of those funds, Reilly said the institutions will have to seek research funding from the private sector.

Going into his last year,  Reilly said his focus, and the focus of the regents, the presidents and the deans, will be student achievement.

"We're going to continue our laser focus we have on student success and ensuring that individuals that come to us get certificates, they get their degrees," he said.

Reilly added that access to higher education is important but graduation is a must. He said people who invest money in higher education but don't graduate are often worse off than if they had never attended college.

Part of Reilly's agenda in his last year will be expanding partnerships with the Clark County School District and starting a partnership with the Washoe County School District.

NSHE will also eliminate remedial education in its schools. Instead, it will start a co-requisite program - students not ready for college-level classes will get help with those courses as they take them. 

Reilly also addressed a story  The Las Vegas Sun reported in June, that a university regent in 2015 tried to get special favors for a relative.

Reilly said those emails were before his time as chancellor and he has since instituted a policy that prohibits regents from going to university and college presidents for any kind of favor.

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.