KUNR 2020 Voter Guide: NSHE Board Of Regents District 10
This year, voters in Washoe County will determine who will win one of the four seats up for grabs on the Nevada Board of Regents. For the District 10 race, which encompasses all of Washoe County, Former Regent Kevin Melcher is facing off against businessman Joseph Arrascada. A Reno native, Melcher was a K-12 administrator for more than 20 years before serving as Elko County’s representative on the Board of Regents from 2011 until 2016. In 2019, Melcher was appointed to the Nevada State Board of Education. Joseph Arrascada is also a Reno native and the owner and community outreach director for Nevada Fiduciary Solutions.
For information on other races, visit our KUNR 2020 Voter Guide home page.
As a note: All responses in KUNR's 2020 Voter Guide have been submitted by the candidates. KUNR has not changed the answers other than to provide fact-checking as needed, indicated in the text with italics and parentheses.
Name: Joseph Arrascada
Joseph Arrascada has not yet responded to KUNR’s request to participate in this voter guide. We will post the response if it becomes available.
Name: Kevin Melcher
Occupation: Retired - Education Teacher & Administrator
Why are you running for office?
Education has been a passion for my entire adult life and I want to continue supporting education in Nevada. I was born in Reno and completed all of my K-12 schooling in Washoe County and earned BS and MS degrees at UNR. I was very involved in student government at Reno High School and UNR where I was elected a student senator for four years and ASUN Senate President my senior year. My interest in higher education never ended. During my K-12 professional career of teaching and administration, I was involved with numerous college and university committees including advisory committees, UNR Alumni Association, and Great Basin College Foundation Board. Working side by side with college faculty, administration, students, and the community, I helped develop quality K-12 relations between higher education and school districts. Because of my extensive work with both K-12 and higher education during my career, when I retired from the Elko County School District in 2008, I decided to run for the Board of Regents. I served as a Regent from 2011 - 2016 and did not run for a second term only because my wife and I decided to move “home” to Reno. I have been encouraged by college and university faculty, administration, students, and many in the Reno area to run for Regent in 2020. I am very excited to serve once again as an experienced member of the Board of Regents. I have strong higher education and K-12 experience and leadership to make an immediate difference in education at all levels.
In November, voters will decide whether to remove the Nevada Board of Regents from the state constitution. In your opinion, how would that affect the state’s higher education system?
Changing the Nevada Constitution to remove the Nevada Board of Regents and the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) will give authority to the Nevada Legislature to more closely control higher education in Nevada. I do not believe our system is broken and it is important for Regents to be elected by the general public. Giving more authority to the legislature will probably result in changing how Regents are either elected and/or appointed. NSHE already adheres to the Nevada Open Meeting Laws and is very careful to make sure there is access to public information. Nevada's higher education institutions are making good progress in advancing education and I would hate to see changes that could possibly deter continued improvement. My biggest concern is the unintended consequences that could harm Nevada's higher education system. I feel the best solution is for the Legislature and the Board of Regents to work harder together to make positive improvements.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the state’s universities and colleges?
In our current times dealing with Covid-19 and current budget cuts, higher education is faced with new and elevated challenges:
* Student safety and health concerns must be a top priority,
* Student instructional delivery - in person and virtual,
* Declining funding and how we will make adjustments, advocate for increased funding and become more efficient and lower student debt,
* Responding to increased workforce development needs of our communities,
* Continuing to advance undergraduate and graduate research to keep our institutions at the highest levels possible,
* Quality response to diversity and equity through institutional and system-wide committees,
* Supporting the new Chancellor, UNR President, UNLV President and DRI President in working together with other institution leaders to make quality improvements throughout Nevada,
* Developing strong K-12 to higher education pipelines to enable our low-income students better opportunities to achieve,
* Developing quality conversations and participation within campus communities so everyone becomes part of the solution.
Earlier this year, lawmakers made drastic cuts to the state’s general fund due to the economic fallout associated with the pandemic. That included nearly $150 million from NSHE. The state’s colleges and universities are projected to lose millions more due to lost revenue and increased costs. What can regents do to protect students from increased tuition/fees?
Because all of our colleges, universities and institutions are unique in many ways, Regents need to work with every institution to assess their current needs, concerns and fiscal capacity. This work must be ongoing and focused on student success. I believe student fees need to be frozen until all other sources and ideas are exhausted. External work needs to be focused on collaboration with legislators, federal elected officials and local communities to find common support for the improvement of funding sources and revenue. We need to better fund our education system at all levels and higher education is critical to the success of our future generations. We can only accomplish this by working tougher as a state.
Nevada’s colleges and universities have experienced a number of hate incidents, including swastikas being spray-painted and etched onto walls. What specific actions would you take, if elected, to actively address this ongoing pattern of hateful expression?
Safety first! We need to make sure our students are safe on our campuses from physical attacks as well as intimidating and hateful actions. This is an area that needs direct attention anytime incidents occur. We need to have a very high quality reporting system that is immediate and responsive. Penalties for hate crimes need to be strong and swift. We also need to make sure there are ongoing conversations with student groups and individuals so they feel safe about reporting and responding to incidents of hate. We need to listen to everyone but we also need to act in meaningful ways. All campus cultures are critical to the quality of obtainable education. Communication needs to be quality and our campus security and police need to be visible and engaged on campuses in positive ways.
Learn more about Kevin Melcher at melcher4regent2020.com.
For information on other races, visit our KUNR 2020 Voter Guide home page.
As a note of disclosure, the Board of Regents for the Nevada System of Higher Education owns the license to this station.