Election 2012: University Board of Regents, District 9

Occupation: Economist (and, more generally: economic, policy, financial & technical analyst) – now consulting, University Regent Email: RonKnecht@aol.comWebsite: www.RonKnecht.comExplain your background and how this qualifies you for the position you are seeking.An economic, financial, policy and technical analyst with education in engineering, liberal arts and law, I’ve spent half my working life in public service and half in entrepreneurial small business — all in management, supervisory and senior professional positions.A Regent since 2007, I’ve chaired Budget & Finance twice and was Vice-chair once – giving me expertise essential in the important funding formula matters. As Audit chairman, I initiated performance-oriented audits on faculty workload and on space and facilities utilization to assure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. I’ve chaired two presidential performance review committees. On Investment & Major Projects, I’ve led the way toward modern investment management so our funds get high returns via low fees while keeping our money safe. I served in the Nevada Assembly in 2002-04 and in various other positions.I’ve been a founder, executive or board member for six businesses and numerous charitable, public-interest and professional groups, including Kiwanis and CASA. I taught for FISH; in 2003-06, I taught Economics at WNC. Education has been very good to me, and I want to continue as Regent to serve Nevada’s students from career and technical education through traditional undergraduate, graduate and professional studies.What are the 2 most important issues to you, what should be done to revolve them?1. For two years, I’ve led successful fights to save all community college campuses and Cooperative Extension – opposing legislators, regents and others who use our small towns and rural areas as pawns in north/south battles. This battle will continue as legislators adopt a new funding formula, a matter in which I’ll remain very active.I opposed the recent 8% fee (tuition) hikes and pledge to oppose future increases. As a legislator in 2003, I helped stop the proposed Gross Receipts Tax. We don’t need tuition/fee hikes or tax increases; we need fairer allocation of resources in the state budget and better cost management in higher education and all public spending.My highest public-service priority has been to tell the public truths that politicians, bureaucrats and subsidy recipients don’t want revealed – e.g., that state spending has grown much faster than incomes of Nevada families and businesses. One key to saving higher education opportunity in our small towns and rural areas while avoiding tax and tuition increases is to rein in parts of state spending that have grown fastest. That will allow NSHE to recoup some of the huge cuts it absorbed in the current budget.2. I will continue to lead another area that is key to saving small-town and rural higher education. That is the new instruction and delivery modes, including distance education; open-source on-line learning platforms; massive on-line open courses (MOOCs); sharing of courses, content and instruction with other colleges; student-paced learning; etc. The information and communications revolutions that changed so much of business and our lives hugely for the better -- especially via great cost reductions and service/product improvements -- are now coming full flower in higher education.We need to aggressively embrace these changes, because our public, private, for-profit and non-profit competitors are already doing so. If we do not embrace them, those competitors will steal our student bodies and thereby drain our revenue streams and institutional futures. NSHE must become an entrepreneurial start-up, not another lumbering state bureaucracy.This does not mean we will forsake traditional residential career and technical education, nor dilute our undergrad, graduate and professional offerings. We must continue to improve quality -- especially via more rigorous undergrad core courses and increased openness, transparency and accountability -- as we diversify our offerings to include the whole range of instruction and delivery methods.Why should voters choose you over the other candidates?Choose me for my qualifications, extensive experience and track record – in budget and strategic management and planning; educational excellence; and innovation in instruction, research and public service. I oppose tuition/fee hikes and tax increases; I promote cost management.I also do low-key but important things in budget, investment and audit leadership, and in telling the public our higher education spending and pay levels are in the national mainstream (contrary to self-interested claims otherwise).Running for Regent six years ago, I pledged to help the Board and NSHE shed their “dysfunctional” reputation. You haven’t heard that term in at least four years. I didn’t fix it all by myself. However, I did my part by showing up every meeting having done my homework, taking a businesslike but collegial attitude, and staying focused on quality, accountability and economic management.I seek your vote to continue good stewardship.

Occupation: Professor Emeritus, Western Nevada College, authorEmail: mackedon@phonewave.netWebsite: www.michonmackedon.comExplain your background and how this qualifies you for the position you are seeking.I graduated from the University of Nevada with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in English and have spent my career in college teaching and public service. I taught at Western Nevada College, Fallon Campus, for 28 years, managing the Division of Communication and Fine Arts for 6 years. I have also served on statewide commissions, including the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects and Nevada Humanities. I am the author of “Bombast: Spinning Atoms in the Desert.” My background in education has fostered my understanding of the missions and goals of higher education across Nevada, and, in particular, has furthered my understanding of and advocacy for rural community colleges. My service on statewide commissions has strengthened my capacity to work well with citizens from all corners of Nevada, to listen to testimony and data, to think clearly and critically, and to work effectively to achieve the goals I believe in. What are the two most important issues to you, what should be done to revolve them?The two most important issues are stabilizing budgets and adequately funding rural community colleges. The Chancellor’s office has proposed a new funding formula for higher education. The formula, if adopted, should bring more stability to college and university budget planning and implementation. However, in the form it has been presented, the effect on rural community colleges would be devastating. To resolve the potential impact on the rural community colleges, the regents and the Legislature must find ways to ameliorate the effect of the funding formula on rural community colleges. One thought is to reactivate a “rural funding factor,” which (in the past) was implemented by the Legislature in acknowledgement of the idea that delivering higher education to rural areas was essential to the health of the state and to furthering the community college mission. A rural factor or some other funding adjustment, perhaps to proposed funding matrix itself, will have to be part of the funding proposal if rural community colleges are to survive. A related issue is budget cuts to Cooperative Extension. I view the combination of future cuts to rural community colleges and cuts to Cooperative Extension, as changing the educational landscape of Nevada. We will have two major centers for education (in Reno and Las Vegas) and not much in between. I was involved in the early movement (1960’s and 70’s) to establish community colleges in the state. A great deal of thought was given at the time to the unique geography of Nevada and to the challenges of serving students living outside the two major urban areas. Thought was also given to the essential role of community colleges in providing remediation to students not prepared for the rigors of higher education and in providing vocational and technical training for specific community-based enterprises. We cannot allow the successes of our rural colleges — they have built campuses and established centers in rural Nevada and have educated and trained thousands of rural Nevadans — to collapse overnight. Why should voters choose you over the other candidates?I have the best background and experience for the job. I am a five-time recognized, award-winning educator, an effective leader, a successful writer, and a critical thinker. I also have a record of upholding the highest ethical standards in my teaching and state service. My candidacy was urged by those who believe that the incumbent has not provided strong leadership on the Board. In order to be a strong leader, you must gain the respect and support of your fellow regents through the application of consistent and well-founded reason. I have both the needed appropriate judgment and the fitting temperament to properly serve as a regent. I am very well-suited for the office, and I will be a powerful leader on the Board.


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