Gubernatorial candidates Jim Gibson and Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt made their pitches to the University of Nevada college system's Board of Regents Thursday, which plans to hear from all the candidates in that race on their support for higher education.
Gibson, a Democrat currently mayor of Henderson, told Regents on Thursday, he said he believes one of the best things he can do for the university system as governor is improve the quality of education in Nevada's public schools.
Hunt drew applause when she told the board the state should get the Public Works Board out of the university's business. She said eliminating the board, that manages capital construction projects for the state and university system, would save both time and money on capital projects.
"An unacceptable number of Millennium Scholars must take remedial classes," Gibson said. "It's clear our students are entering our system unprepared."
He said that means the university system must waste money providing remedial classes which could otherwise be spent on graduate programs or research.
But Gibson said restricting eligibility to Millennium Scholarships isn't the answer because those scholarships provide "unprecedented access to higher education.
"I'm a believer that the system, as a whole, must have wide open doors."
But he said that means those students must be ready to attend and pass classes at the university level.
He said the answer is high school reform which he said will be a high priority if he is elected governor.
Gibson said another key is finding ways to provide affordable housing, not only for students, but for new faculty.
He said he will also work with the Legislature to increase the percentage the state provides for formula funding to support university system programs. The system is now funded at just under 84 percent of what the formula system says it should be getting.
Hunt told the board she supports raising scholarship requirements and increases in out-of-state tuition.
"A first-rate education system is one of the keys to successful economic development and symbiotic relationships with the private sector," she said.
But she said her emphasis would be on developing public-private partnerships with Nevada businessmen.
She also said the state, business and local governments should have the discussion about whether local governments should contribute to the cost of higher education.
-- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.