Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents Chair Jason Geddes said the board will try to complete its searches for the next presidents of the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before the spring semester ends in mid-May.
NSHE announced last week it is delaying its searches indefinitely — including the search for the next NSHE chancellor — due to concerns over COVID-19.
As part of the search processes, the finalist candidates for UNR and UNLV president — who have yet to be named — are to meet with faculty, students and university staff at their respective campuses. However, both campuses have transitioned to limited alternative operations due to COVID-19, as ordered by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. All classes at both universities transitioned Monday to online instruction.
Geddes said in an email to KUNR that any on-campus visits from finalists would be "dependent on if campus operations are allowed to resume after the Governor’s directive."
Before the pandemic, NSHE had planned for the next UNR president to start July 1 and the next UNLV president to start July 31. UNLV finalists were scheduled to visit campus this week, with UNR finalists set to make their on-campus visits in late April.
In the event that NSHE does not hire a new UNR president by July 1, current UNR President Marc Johnson said in a phone interview with KUNR that he will consider staying on past his planned last day of June 30, if asked by the Board of Regents.
"I would encourage the regents to continue with their search processes in a postponed but timely fashion," Johnson said. "If they cannot find somebody to actually take the job and be here on July 1, I will try to be somewhat flexible."
Johnson plans to begin a visiting professorship at the University of Missouri in August.
If Johnson stays on as UNR president past June, NSHE would not need to immediately extend his current contract since it runs through June 2021.
UNLV President Marta Meana did not respond to KUNR's request for comment on whether she would stay on as needed if asked by the Board of Regents. She has served on an acting basis since July 2018.
NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly declined to comment on whether he would stay on if his successor is not hired by August when his contract expires.
NSHE Spokesman Francis McCabe issued a written statement in response to KUNR's request for comment from Reilly: "The COVID-19 pandemic remains a dynamic and evolving situation here in Nevada. Right now Chancellor Reilly and NSHE are acutely focused on the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and campus communities."
Benjamin Payne is a graduate student at the Reynolds School of Journalism.
As a note of disclosure, the Board of Regents for the Nevada System of Higher Education owns the license to this station.