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Rogers, regents a happy family again

By LAWRENCE MOWER
REVIEW-JOURNALAn agenda item that a few weeks ago was viewed as threatening to Chancellor Jim Rogers was met with sobering and conciliatory notes at a Board of Regents meeting Friday.

Discussion of the agenda item, meant to address the relationship between the board and the chancellor, was expected to be tense in the wake of Rogers’ abrupt resignation and later return as chief of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Rogers had fired off a scathing memo to Regent Chairman Bret Whipple Jan. 11 threatening to quit should Regent James Dean Leavitt be elected chairman. The next day, Leavitt and Whipple called for Rogers to resign.

Rogers initially refused to resign, but sent a two-word memo to regents — “I quit” — on Jan. 14.

After meeting with Leavitt the next day, Rogers issued a formal apology and retracted his resignation.

Those four days rocked the higher education world, but regents on Friday were eager to move past the issue. They heaped praise on both Rogers and Leavitt.

“I’m particularly struck with the grace and dignity of the people involved,” Regent Michael Wixom said.

“We’re all very private people put in a very public situation,” he said, adding that it gave him “great hope” that the board was able move on from the incident.

Rogers didn’t comment during the discussion, and Leavitt had few words to say, although the two had joked about the incident Thursday.

“It (Rogers’ apology) was a sincere apology, and I accept it,” Leavitt said Friday.

Regent Howard Rosenberg, who has been Rogers’ biggest critic on the board, apologized for harsh remarks he made about Rogers during the controversy.

“All of us have the most important factor in our minds: doing the best that we can for our students,” Rosenberg said. “He (Rogers) cares a great deal about the students. Why else would he be doing this, for the love of Pete? Nobody’s that crazy.”

Rogers and regents blamed the situation on a breakdown in communication.

“You know, communication is a wonderful thing,” Regent Dorothy Gallagher said. “But so many of us sit back and wait for somebody to communicate with us.”

“I hope that we’ve learned something, all of us,” she said.

But several regents thought the issue of chancellor-board communications should be discussed during future meetings, and Rosenberg called for another action item for the meeting in March.

“I think the board needs to have the discussion of the balance of power,” he said.