Document Type


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Publication Title

The Lincy Institute Research Brief


The Lincy Institute

Publisher Location

Las Vegas, NV



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Executive Summary

This report analyzes 11 bills introduced during the 79th Session of the Nevada Legislature that proposed to reorganize, reform, and realign various aspects of the state’s higher education system. The analysis reveals the following:

Despite bipartisan support for higher education reform, nearly all of the reform bills failed, including two bills vetoed by Governor Brian Sandoval.

The failure to enact meaningful reform stands in contrast to the implementation of bills appropriating more resources for higher education.

Opposition to reform legislation was strongest among those most invested in legitimizing and perpetuating current arrangements.

The report also considers the institutional and cultural factors that reinforce these outcomes. These factors include:

The mismatch between legislative capacity and the demand for policy reform.

The selective manner in which higher education officials engaged in the Legislature.

Misconceptions about the components of the state’s land-grant institution and the Board of Regents’ constitutional carve out prohibiting legislative action.

The report concludes with policy recommendations for the Nevada Legislature. Foremost among these are:

The second passage of AJR 5, an override of the AB 407 veto, and reintroduction and passage of the failed reform bills.

Separation of the governance of the two- and four-year colleges from the branches of the state university, reduction in the size of the Board of Regents, and reorganization of the administration of higher education.

Developing separate funding formulas for the universities and the two- and four-year colleges, and adding funding weights for courses completed by first generation, minority, and Pell Grant eligible students.

Creation of the Assembly and Senate Higher Education and Economic Development Committees to improve legislative oversight and coordination.

Elevation of Great Basin College to a four-year institution and realignment of the two and four-year colleges’ service areas to facilitate regional economic integration.


Education Policy | Higher Education | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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Publisher Citation

Damore, David F., William E. Brown, Jr., and Robert E. Lang. 2018. “The Failure of Higher Education Reform and the 2017 Session of the Nevada Legislature.” Special Report, No. 6. The Lincy Institute.