Regents approve $610,000 severance with chancellor at caustic meeting

Regents approve $610,000 severance with chancellor at caustic meeting

LAS VEGAS — Shouting, interruptions and threats marked a heated Nevada System of Higher Education meeting of the Board of Regents Friday.

The regents met to approve a $610,000 severance with its Chancellor, Melody Rose, who wanted to leave NSHE after she alleged mistreatment by certain regents.

NSHE hired attorney Bill Peterson said mediation between the board and chancellor was attempted but failed. 

“During the discussions going back and forth … it became fairly clear between the attorneys involved in that process that it really was in everybody’s best interest at that point in time for the, there didn’t seem to be much of a future basically, for the two sides being the board of regents and the chancellor to separate and go their own ways,” he said. “The chancellor offered up her resignation, and that proposal was basically negotiated back and forth between the parties, principally me and the chancellor’s counsel.”

Rose, who was on vacation during Friday’s meeting, will get $610,000, about half of what would remain of her salary if she were to keep her position.

The meeting was marked by discord. Regents argued and interrupted one another during the meeting. Regent Patrick Boylan repeatedly interrupted Regent Carol Del Carlo, who raised her voice while attending the meeting virtually.

“Today I have to say I’m ashamed to be a regent and sit here and consider this motion,” Del Carlo said. “This is a travesty and a total failure of leadership of this board.

“Don’t you realize that we’re being watched, and not just in the US, but all over the world?” she added. “We as a board have failed our chancellor. I am totally disgusted by why we are here today. I ask that the lawyers stand down, bring in a mediator, or a psychologist, and resolve our issues and move forward.”

Boylan said Rose deserved to be fired “for what she did,” appearing to be referring to Rose’s voluminous complaint she filed last year against the regents.

“I’m not in favor of $600,000 for one person just leaving us and on the basis of how it happened,” Boylon said. “In the private industry, she would have been fired the first day for what she did.”

This discussion also prompted Peterson to warn the board of straying too far from the meeting’s agenda in order to avoid violating Nevada’s open meeting law. 

Boylon’s comments also prompted a public commenter to suggest his statements violated the severance agreement. The agreement mandates neither NSHE nor the chancellor make disparaging statements about one another.

NSHE Vice Chancellor Crystal Abba will serve as officer in charge of NSHE until a new chancellor is appointed.

University of Nevada, Reno Faculty Senate Chair, Amy Pason, said Rose respected faculty and was respected by faculty.

“We hope this board will commit itself to shared governance and seek input from the faculty in the decisive decisions ahead,” she said. “The morale of faculty and the survival of our institutions depend on this.”

Student leaders at NSHE institutions chastised the regents for their behavior. 

Zachary Johnigan, student body president at the College of Southern Nevada, said the regents did not consider impacts to students. 

“An organization without stable leadership will be unable to achieve any significant goal,” he said. “I think that shame is to be had today because students were not thought of in this decision, and we are going to be the only ones who are affected going into the future.”

Former state legislator Warren Hardy praised Rose.

“She’ll be fine,” he said of the severance. “She’s gonna go on like most of the other people that are fired and pushed out by this group, by this organization, to success elsewhere. Most of the folks we don’t have space for, or room for, here at NSHE move on to careers and other institutions that are highly respected.”

Regent John Moran said the regents failed the state of Nevada by severing their agreement with Rose, who started her position in 2020.

“We must know our responsibilities as regents, and we need to start staying in our own lanes,” Moran said. “This meddling and micromanagement in the business of our top brass or our presidents is absolutely and unequivocally unproductive. 

“And it’s a common theme that I’ve heard over and over.” 

All but four of the 13 regents voted for the severance. 

“The sole reason I am supporting this motion and voting in favor of it is because this is what … Chancellor Rose has asked us to do,” Moran added.