National or local: Search for new WNC president begins
September 19, 2017
The process of picking Chet Burton's replacement as president of Western Nevada College began Monday with public and campus input into what that person should be.
Regents Chairman Kevin Page, Vice Chairman Jason Geddes and Chancellor Thom Reilly listened to a divided room with some members of the public calling for a national search while others urging the regents to pick some one within WNC who knows the college and where it's headed.
They made no decision at the 90-minute meeting, even barring anyone from mentioning names of potential candidates.
Under the rules set out in board policy, the regents can select an acting president who would be ineligible to get the permanent job and conduct a national search to fill the position vacated by Chet Burton a month ago. Or they can pick an interim president, probably from within the college, who would be given a year or more to prove him or herself and get the position. If that person doesn't work out, then there would be a national search.
"I think it's time for us to have a national search," said longtime WNC employee Anne Hansen.
But Tania Covarrubias, WNC's student body president, was joined by Northern Nevada Development Authority director Rob Hooper in urging the board to pick some one from inside.
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She said the school doesn't need some one from outside to come in and change everything that's now being done on campus.
"I believe Western is on the right track now," said Hooper. "I agree with your student body president, we don't need some one coming in and saying you folks in Carson City don't understand what you're doing."
He also questioned the cost of a national search that Page said would range upward of $100,000 and come out of WNC's already tight budget.
Ken Burns who runs the veterans programs at WNC said he didn't want some one to come in and change all the programs that have been developed over the past few years — programs he said are working for students.
John Kinkella, dean of student services, said he also has been told by businesses including the area's casinos that they want the school to continue in the direction it has been going.
Professor Elizabeth Tattersall told them that by picking an interim president from within, "we are limiting our options."
"If we open it up to a national search, we might get some nice surprises," she said.
Craig Robinson representing the WNC faculty senate said that group is "supportive of a national search."
Dean Gould, chief of staff to the Board of Regents, said the next step will be for the regents to decide whether to conduct a national search or appoint an interim president. He emphasized that people are welcome to submit names of those they believe would be a good acting or interim president but that those names aren't public until after the board gets signed waivers from those people.