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This opinion column was submitted by Kevin Melcher, candidate for the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, District 10. His campaign website is melcher4regent2020.com.
The Nevada System of Higher Education is extremely valuable to Nevada and we are witnessing just how important higher education is while dealing with the current COVID-19 situation. The dedication of faculty, staff and administration in advancing our colleges and universities during these changing times is impressive.
It is critical we have experienced leadership at the Board of Regents governance level as we make critical decisions dealing with the COVID-19 situation. I will listen to all stakeholders to make decisions based on what is right for our students, those who work in our institutions and for the citizens of Nevada.
During my first term on the Board of Regents (2011-2016), I helped oversee the improvement of our academic institutions. I served as chairperson for the NSHE Investment Committee that has fiduciary responsibility for NSHE’s endowment investments and operating funds.
Medical education has been a major focus over the past decade and our institutions are making great strides toward the improvement of medical care in Nevada. The UNR School of Medicine’s new physician assistant program is a shining example of how NSHE is working to help add professionals in Nevada’s health care network. I have volunteered with the P.A. program since its inception and was honored to be the keynote speaker for the very first graduation class on Sept. 1, 2020.
UNR and UNLV have both achieved Carnegie Classification R1 and in doing so, join America’s top research universities. I will continue to support the growth of research at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Everyone worked very hard to achieve this distinction and we must now make the investments to maintain and grow quality research.
Legislative and local government relations are important, and I have always worked well with others in a nonpartisan way without the restraints of political interference. It is only through quality relationships and respect that we are able to make a real difference. I have no desire to attain any other political office because higher education is my passion.
Both my wife, Ann Marie (Humphrey) Melcher, and I served six-year terms on the University of Nevada Alumni Council. This experience provided an understanding of how important alumni are to higher education institutions. We continue to this day being engaged with UNR and TMCC.
For the past 34 years, I have provided important leadership for K-12, higher education, and numerous nonprofits such as Rotary Club, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Communities in Schools. I currently serve as vice-chairperson for the Community Foundation of Western Nevada Board of Trustees.
While working in education administration, I helped Great Basin College develop its first bachelor degree program and worked to support other shared programs with UNR and UNLV. I served on numerous community college and university committees including the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension prior to becoming a regent.
I am a native Nevadan, born and raised in Reno, and I graduated from Reno High School in 1974. I completed a bachelor’s degree in 1979 and a master’s degree in 1981 from the University of Nevada, Reno. I served as a student senator for the College of Arts and Science and College of Education for four years and was ASUN Senate president in 1978-1979.
I was elected to the NSHE Board of Regents in 2010 and served on numerous committees including chairperson of both the Truckee Meadows Community College and Great Basin College President Search Committees and vice-chair of the NSHE Community College Committee. I was also a member of the Academic, Research and Student Affairs Committee, Health Sciences System Committee, and the ad hoc Committee on Athletics.
Governor Brian Sandoval appointed me to serve on the Nevada State Board of Education as the NSHE representative during 2013, 2014 and 2015. This gave higher education a “voice at the table” for K-12 education in Nevada. In September of 2019, I was appointed by Governor Steve Sisolak to fill a vacated term through 2020 on the Nevada State Board of Education.
Our colleges and universities are resilient and with strong leadership, we will get through the difficult times and become even stronger. We will learn from this crisis and I look forward to working closely with leaders throughout Nevada in developing better ways to move forward and make sure our students are ready for successful futures.
My extensive education experience, leadership and integrity are critical to the Nevada System of Higher Education. I am retired and am able to spend as much time as necessary to once again serve as a regent for the Nevada System of Higher Education. Please return me, Kevin Melcher, to the Board of Regents.
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This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Raising the bar on Nevada’s higher education system | Kevin Melcher