Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy and Leadership

First Committee Member

Robert Lang

Second Committee Member

Magdalena Martinez

Third Committee Member

Lawrence Mullen

Fourth Committee Member

David Damore

Number of Pages



The purpose of this qualitative case study is to explain the dynamics of metropolitan policymaking in Las Vegas, Nevada. This study utilizes advocacy coalition framework to show how underlying beliefs among policy actors, and within the coalitions they form, impact decisions made at the level of the Nevada Legislature. As the newest metropolitan region to emerge among the top 30 metros in the United States, a case study exploring Las Vegas offers a unique contribution to existing literature in public policy and urban affairs. In the wake of economic downturn in the Great Recession and the adoption of a new state economic development plan, Las Vegas has begun to embrace a regionalized vision for public policy. And yet for many reasons – the metro region’s differences, density, diversity, and distance from representation – offers a compelling case for the exploration of emerging new regions of the United States. In 2017, the Nevada Legislature took up a particular bill to reform the governance of higher education assets in the state. The resulting policy conflict surrounding the bill reveals important new findings about the nature of policymaking in Nevada. Through comprehensive document analysis, news coverage, and in-depth semi-structured interviews based in advocacy coalition framework, this study explores the deep core beliefs of individuals engaged in the state’s higher education policy landscape. Key themes show regionally based divisions, despite compelling technical evidence to change policy, and cohesive policy coalitions. This study enhances the research literature on higher education governance, state government, and metropolitan policy. The study concludes by offering policy recommendations for improving the state of higher education in Nevada and argues for the importance of metropolitan regionalism in public policy.


Governance; Higher Education; Las Vegas; Metropolitan Policy; Public Policy; State Government


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

File Format


File Size

14.9 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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