28 Apr Jeffrey Downs
Board of Regents, District 11
Campaign Contact Phone: 775-762-4837
Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
I have lived in Nevada for 22 years and worked for the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) for 21 years. In that time I have seen many changes happen to NSHE, and not all of them good. I would like to serve on the board to bring the perspective of both a faculty member as well as a collective bargaining champion to the makeup of this governing body.
What do you believe is the number one issue that Nevada’s System of Higher Education is facing?
NSHE needs to make sure it is meeting the needs of its students. So many of our students choose to go out of the system for education or choose not to participate because we do not necessarily offer what they need or what is offered is not in a format that they can access. In addition, NSHE is not been keeping up with wage growth for its employees. Wages have been stagnant for a decade and with the recent rates of inflation, many people are finding it hard to afford to live in Nevada. We need to reconsider pay structures across the entire spectrum of NSHE, starting at the top.
What is your position on removing the Board of Regents from the Nevada Constitution? Do you support or oppose this and please explain why?
I oppose removing the Board of Regents from the constitution. I can understand some of the sentiment towards restructuring the Board of Regents, but to do so would remove the connection the constituents have with the governance of higher education in Nevada. Having the Board of Regents, in its current incarnation, access for constituents.
Should Nevadans have more power to hold the Board of Regents accountable? Do you support more transparency and accountability for the public to have over the Board of Regents?
I support transparency and accountability. I am not sure what that looks like. Personnel issues would still have to meet privately. However, given recent issues with the chancellor, it is clear something is not working.
How will you decrease government waste and public corruption by the Board of Regents?
To begin with, I will not support massive golden parachutes. If someone leaves a position early, they should not be rewarded with a multi-year salary for work they are not doing. In addition, having a clear accounting of how money is spent on searches and employment would need to happen. We should also not punish institutions for not spending their entire budgets. However, we do need to find a way to prioritize salaries for the classified, faculty, and lower to mid level administrators.
Please describe the role of the Board of Regents.
The Board of Regents works with and manages the chancellor in the administering of higher education opportunities for the people of Nevada. This would mean giving guidance to the chancellor as well as passing policies and code to make the instruction of Nevadans more accessible and effective. Part of this is to ensure that schools are appropriately funded to retain and recruit effective employees, as well as adapt to the needs of local communities.
NSHE has had 6 chancellors in 6 years. Do you support the current Chancellor’s contract so that there is consistent leadership over Nevada’s higher education system?
The current chancellor has now resigned, so no. We will need to conduct a search to find a good fit for Nevada.
How would you continue the Board of Regents’ study of discrimination and implementation of diversity and inclusion trainings to deter sexual harassment and discrimination?
The Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Committee has been very effective at making this happen. I am unaware of outstanding sexual harassment and discrimination issues. The most recent issue put forward by the former chancellor was determined to be unfounded.
Should separate funding formulas be created for the non-university institutions?
That is one solution to addressing the funding of community colleges, especially those serving the rural areas. I would not be opposed to this, but this bucket of funds would need to be adequately funded. With the current funding formula the smaller schools and community colleges are at a significant disadvantage. The funding formula is a clear representation of the priorities of those who have crafted it. It would be nice to have a funding formula that prioritizes educating more Nevadans at all levels.
Should non-universities have their own governing boards?
I do not believe this is necessary. I believe the opportunity to have regular elections to vote in the members of the Board of Regents allows for course corrections.
What are your plans to remedy the regional disparity in lab and research space that hinders UNLV from fulfilling its research mission?
Masters degree, PhD in progress
How would you improve workforce development programs at the state and community colleges?
I would work with the UNLV leadership to address these concerns and find additional spaces that suit the needs of the UNLV faculty.
Do you think that GBC should be elevated to a full four-year institution (NSHE considers it a two-year institution even though it grants 14 different BA or BS degrees)?
To begin with, I would look at the structure ratio. While larger schools need larger administration, it does not necessarily scale up linearly. In many cases, administrations seem to scale up exponentially. I would propose restructuring of administrations, with current funding going to augment faculty salaries.
How would you “right-size” system-level administration and ensure greater accountability and responsiveness of system-level personnel?
To begin with, we need to offer what is wanted by the community and needed by the local industry. I have worked in the administration for 2.5 years as a Vice President. We have offered classes that the community said it needed, without people enrolling. Instead, we need to work directly with businesses to recruit what they have identified they need from employees, and use their pool of current and prospective employees to create the enrollment. The shotgun approach of putting up many classes, hoping they fill, is not effective. Targeting course offerings are more effective. To make this happen, though, we need collaboration from employers.