Johnson Inaugurated as UNR's 16th President, Discusses State of University
Listen to the story
The University of Nevada, Reno inaugurated Dr. Marc Johnson as its 16th president Friday morning. This after Johnson served 17 months as UNR's interim president. KUNR's Michael Hagerty sat down with Dr. Johnson this week for a preview of his inauguration address and his goals for the institution.
An orchestra and an audience of a few hundred dignitaries, faculty and staff gathered on the university's quadrangle, where Dr. Johnson said education has never been more important as the nation struggles to overcome a recession. And he and looked to the future. Listen to the full speech
"Now the University of Nevada, Reno moves forward," he said. "We have forged this sense of mission during one of the most challenging periods of our 138-year history. Our university has shown its true character during this time. The resiliency shown by our faculty, staff and students during these tough times has just been remarkable."
Board of Regents Chair Jason Geddes said Dr. Johnson has continually risen to every occasion -- whether it was in his tenure as provost, his 17 months as interim president or in the interview process for the job he now assumes.
"He's a good, solid, stable, thoughtful person who's in it for the long haul," Geddes said.
Geddes added having the presidency filled on a long-term basis brings to an end a difficult period for the university.
"I think it's a sigh of relief, you know? There's been several years of turmoil with the budget cuts, and with the changing in leadership," he said. "And I think it just lets everyone say, 'Ok, we're set. We're firm. We're moving forward.'"
State of the University
In an interview the week prior to the inauguration, Dr. Johnson told KUNR the university is in a good position to move forward, despite years of budget cuts, program closures or reductions, and pay cuts.
"Our faculty students and staff have practiced a great deal of resistance during a very very difficult period," Johnson said. "But our momentum is tremendous and I will be talking about some themes about moving forward into the next few years."
He said he wants to focus on strengthening the university's undergraduate program, growing its graduate research programs and building more support for UNR within the community.
New Funding Model
He also addressed the new funding model the Board of Regents approved in August that could potentially be adopted by the legislature. It would change the way how state funding for higher education is allocated and shift around $13 million from rural community colleges to schools in the south.
Not saying whether he supports the plan, Johnson said it does contain a provision that would help institutions like UNR regain some of the funds they'd lose. Money a school generates from tuition and fees would stay at that institution -- instead of going in the state coffers.
"This is the most important part because this is the incentive that really causes institutions to recruit hard and work with their students really well to make sure that they do well, they can stay in school, and they graduate," Johnson said. "And incentivized systems tend to work."
Goals for His Presidency
Johnson said his goals for his tenure as president include increasing the number of students the university serves, improving grant and scholarship output, and some ambitious goals for the school's outreach programs.
"And making sure that this university is affecting the lives of people in all 17 counties of the state." he said.