Jim Rogers Returns as Chancellor

Nevada university Chancellor Jim Rogers said Tuesday he was returning to business as usual, after rescinding his weekend resignation as head of the state's higher education system.

"My position is that it's a done deal, let's get on with it," Rogers by telephone as he awaited the return of personal belongings and furniture to his University and Community College System of Nevada office in Las Vegas. "We've got a lot of work to do."

Rogers wrote a terse Monday night memorandum to university regents, reading, "I hereby withdraw my resignation."

Rogers sent the letter after a restaurant meeting with James Dean Leavitt, one of two regents who called for Rogers' resignation on Friday.

Rogers followed Sunday with a terse two-word note reading, "I quit."

The Monday meeting was mediated by former Clark County Manager
Thom Reilly, who worked for Rogers briefly as chief operating officer of the University of Nevada Health Sciences Center before leaving to take a post with casino giant Harrah's Entertainment.

Disputes between Leavitt, who is chairman of the Health Sciences
Center ad hoc committee, and Rogers came to a head last week after
Rogers tapped former Democratic congressional candidate Tessa Hafen to lead lobbying efforts for the health sciences center in the
upcoming Legislature in Carson City.

Leavitt questioned the hire and whether a search should have been done for the position.

Rogers sent a scathing memo to regents Chairman Bret Whipple, stating that he would resign if Leavitt was elected chairman or vice chairman of the 13-member board in June.

Whipple characterized Rogers' memo as inappropriate, and joined Leavitt in calling for Rogers to resign.

Rogers, a millionaire media mogul, characterized the flap as "a small hiccup that unfortunately got made to be a bigger problem than it was."

He said it stemmed from differences between regents and the chancellor over policy and operational management and "who governs
the higher education territory."

In a statement issued about his reconciliation with Leavitt, Rogers called it "inappropriate" to have sent a letter to Whipple without giving Leavitt a chance to respond.

"We have since resolved these issues privately to both our satisfaction," the statement said.

Rogers' "I quit" memo shook up the higher education system, leaving regents, officials and lawmakers scrambling.

Whipple spent Monday in Reno and Carson City meeting with elected officials including Gov. Jim Gibbons and state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno.

When Whipple returned to Las Vegas on Monday evening, he was told to meet Leavitt and Rogers at the restaurant.

"I got back and there's a written apology and everybody's, as we say on the ranch, hunky-dory," Whipple told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

But Whipple said he still had concerns over the legality of Rogers' resignation, which he said he thought the board needed to address.

Regent Steve Sisolak said Rogers' resignation and reversal came within a three-day cooling-off period after resignation notices are submitted.

In the day-and-a-half since word of Rogers' resignation had spread, the state's university and college presidents lobbied for the regents and Rogers to resolve their differences. The presidents even drafted a letter encouraging reconciliation, according to Community College of Southern Nevada President Richard Carpenter.

The presidents, who Carpenter said support Rogers, said they were worried not having a chancellor during the legislative session beginning Feb. 5.

The draft was never circulated because hopes dwindled that Rogers would return, Carpenter said.

Others, including the conservative group Citizen Outreach, sought Monday to sack Hafen, who is due to be paid $47,000 through June 30.

State Sen. Bob Beers issued a media release characterizing it as "partisan patronage."


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