A Fallon native has been approved as the acting chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education for 18 months while the Board of Regents search for a permanent chancellor.
“Dale Erquiaga is a gifted innovator and strategist with over 35 years of successful experience in both the private and public sectors,” said Cathy McAdoo, Board of Regents chair. “I have full confidence in his abilities to be a true asset for NSHE and the many communities we serve.”
Erquiaga will assume the role July 1. He replaces Melody Rose, whose resignation was approved April 1 less than two years into her four-year contract. The regents also voted to pay Rose $610,000 in severance following a controversy over a 2021 complaint in which she accused the board and its vice chair of gender discrimination, intimidation and retaliation.
Erquiaga has had a long career in public service beginning as an education and information officer with the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants. Before that, he was a press support specialist for the White House Conference on Small Business.
“I am humbled and honored to serve as acting chancellor of this great state’s public higher education system,” said the 58-year-old Erquiaga. “Our universities, state college, community colleges, and research institute are state treasures. I look forward to working with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to ensure our important work continues to positively impact the lives of all Nevadans.”
Erquiaga said he has no intent to become the permanent chancellor.
Most recently, Erquiaga has been the executive director of the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. The Guinn Center works with practitioners statewide to provide relevant analysis, inform policy development, and identify actionable solutions. It has published more than 60 policy reports in areas of tax and fiscal policy, education, health, social policy, economic development, workforce development, good governance and energy.
The Guinn Center’s principal office is on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.
Erquiaga graduated from Churchill County High School in 1981 and from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1985, earning a degree in political science. He later received a master's in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. He served as the state’s 27th superintendent of the Department of Education from 2013-15. He was the chief strategy officer for the Office of the Nevada Governor from 2015-16.
According to NSHE, Erquiaga was previously executive director for Government Affairs, Public Policy and Strategic Planning for the Clark County School District and served as the director of the Nevada Department of Museums, Library and Arts. Most recently, he was the president and chief executive officer of Communities in Schools National in Washington, D.C.
Erquiaga became involved with state politics when he served as a senior adviser to newly-elected Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was elected governor in 2010. With Erquiaga selected as the acting chancellor, both he and Sandoval will be reconnected. Regents elected Sandoval as the 17th president of UNR in 2020.
Erquiaga’s friendship with Sandoval goes back more than a half century.
When Sandoval's family moved to Fallon, the 7-year-old attended second grade at Northside Elementary School. Erquiaga became one of his closest friends and continued to do so after the Sandoval family moved to Reno.
In an interview with the LVN in 2013, Erquiaga said he and Sandoval both follow the same religion, and they had their first Communion day together.
"What I like about Nevada is that the families go back that far. Frankly, it makes difficult decisions easier to resolve. That's the politics I grew up with,” he said.
Erquiaga’s brother Carl recently served as a Churchill County commissioner before he was termed out. His sister Dianne, (Lowery), the oldest in the family, died in 2013 after a fight against cancer. Another brother, Steve, died at his home in Weiser, Idaho, earlier this year.
Before he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, Erquiaga wrote for both the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard as a high school student and later during summers while coming home from college.
"My first job was with the Fallon Eagle Standard, and then I went to the LVN and worked for Curt Tuck," Erquiaga previously said. "For the LVN, I was writing stories on the local government, school board, police beat."
Erquiaga said he thought journalism would be his calling.
"I thought I would be a journalist. I loved covering local government," said Erquiaga.