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May 15, 2013
By John Trent
Dorothy Gallagher, a 1947 graduate of the University and a longtime member of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, has passed away.
President Marc Johnson called Gallagher "a friend not only of this University, but of all Nevadans and a towering champion for higher education in the state. Few others had the reach, the grace, the grit and the ability to bring reason and compassion in building the state's higher education enterprise into what it is today."
Gallagher was a fourth-generation Nevadan. She was a member of one of Nevada's most distinguished families. Her father, Harvey Sewell, founded Nevada National Bank in 1939. She received her bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Nevada in 1947. She was married to prominent Elko dentist Dr. Tom Gallagher since 1947.
She was first elected to the Board of Regents in 1980, representing 11 counties in rural Nevada. She served on the Board until 2002 when she retired. She returned to the Board in 2004 when her appointed predecessor chose not to run. Her fifth term on the Board of Regents concluded with her retirement in 2010.
Gallagher's tenure on the Board of Regents was notable for its achievement and its historic nature. Her Board of Regents service included serving as chair of the Board of Regents (1989-91), Academic, Research and Student Affairs (1993-95, 1997-98), and Budget and Finance Committee (1989-90, 1995-96). She is credited with leading the creation of Great Basin College in Elko and the subsequent expansion of Great Basin College's curriculum to include associate degree programs and baccalaureate offerings.
Said Jason Geddes, chairman of the Nevada Board of Regents: "Dorothy Gallagher was an iconic figure in Nevada and higher education. She was a great regent, great Nevadan, and a great mentor who cast a lasting impression on higher education in Nevada. She set the gold standard for excellence and commitment to students for those of us who followed her. She will be missed."
Added NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich: "Dorothy was not only a trusted colleague when I served with her on the Board, and a mentor to me as chancellor, but a true friend. Her tough love and passion for education made me, and our higher education system, a truly better place. While the Dorothy we know and love is gone, the impact she made will be felt for generations to come."
Her awards and honors include the prestigious gold medallion from the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America in 2009 (becoming the first woman ever to receive the honor); the Nevada Hospital Association's Trustee Excellence Award (1994), Nevada Women's Fund Hall of Fame Award for Education (1989) and the University of Nevada, Reno's Alumnus of the Year award in 2009. In 2003, along with her husband, she was named a Distinguished Nevadan by the Board of Regents.
In 2011, she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University.
"Her outstanding involvement and advocacy for the Nevada System of Higher Education has ensured the system touches all citizens and reaches all corners of the Silver State," Johnson said. "With her passing, higher education has lost a true champion and the University has lost a treasured alumna. Dorothy always made things happen. Through her persistence and generosity, she strengthened the path to and through college for young Nevadans. She will always be remembered for her personal warmth, her wonderful personality and sense of humor which had everything to do with her impact and significant contributions to our state and educational systems."