NSHE's new chancellor: the right person, at the right time, for the job
Dean Donald Easton-Brooks recalls from his own experience Dr. Melody Rose's ability to solve problems, plan for the future
I have been in my role as the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Nevada Reno for one year now. I have been able to take in the rich culture of Northern Nevada and Wolf Pack nation. Yet, I have also experienced the two pandemics facing our University, Nevada’s higher educational system, and our state. During this time, three key leaders are leaving their roles as president of our three major higher education units. However, I do not think we could have selected a better leader during this time than Dr. Melody Rose. I was thrilled when I heard that Dr. Rose was a candidate and then accepted the opportunity to lead us as the Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Allow me to explain why. I worked with Dr. Rose during my time as the Dean of the Colleges of Business and Education at Eastern Oregon University. During my time there, the University was experiencing a major budget challenge. Of course, people on campus were concerned about the state of the University, budget cuts, and job security. Impressively and with confidence and a sense of calmness, Dr. Rose met with every facet of the University, from students to faculty to staff and administrators. As a leader, I was most moved by her ability to listen, gather information, and within no time, create a plan of action that helped the University regain itself.
I also witnessed Dr. Rose navigate a higher education system through one of the major shakeups in Oregon Higher Education history. At the time, the University of Oregon was pushing to get out of the state system and have its own university-level board. The University felt this would make them more competitive as an R1 top-tier university. Plus, they had the backing and support of Nike. The University of Oregon was successful in convincing the state to let them have their own board. Afterward, Oregon State University and Portland State University also pushed to have their own board. Of course, it was a no brainer for Oregon State University and possibly Portland State University to request for their own board. The question that the state had to answer was what to do with the other smaller, more comprehensive-based regional universities.
Here, I was able to again witness Dr. Rose's decisive and collective leadership at work. She and her team worked with universities to look at state systems in places like Montana, Wisconsin, etc., to come up with the best fit for the state universities and the Oregon Higher Education system. However, the presidents of the universities eventually voted for all six universities to have their own boards. Dr. Rose was smart about adding concessions for those smaller, more comprehensive regional universities if their university-level board system did not work out. I cannot imagine the complexity of organizing the functions, structures, and budget impacts of all of these universities. She was about to do this without create major impacts on the entire state’s higher education system.
In my experience and interaction with Dr. Rose, I found her to be one of the most thoughtful and reflective leaders I have been around. I found her to be a great leader, decision-maker, and champion for higher education. As a state, I think we have hired the right person for the job to deal with the upcoming challenges higher education will be facing over the next few years. We have a warrior, a leader who has experience moving systems during challenging times. I am excited to see who we become as a higher education unit as we move to the forefront of higher education in our region, in the country, and the world.