According to a consultant, Nevada’s higher education Chancellor Dan Klaich has been cleared of any wrongdoing in regards to a critical report of the Nevada System of Higher Education. He had been accused by the Las Vegas Review Journal of mishandling and purposely whitewashing a report to avoid damaging his career.
A 2014 report on the governance of community colleges done by hired researchers cast his agency in a negative light, causing Klaich to fear for his career. It has become known as the McGuinness report, after researcher Aims McGuiness of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.
According to Bethany Barnes of the Las Vegas Review Journal, in one email, Klaich told researchers and staff:
Without trying to be melodramatic, I could see this report costing me my job. It would certainly undermine my standing and credibility with the presidents and the Regents.
The researchers rewrote the report with softened language, though the investigation found that they were under no pressure from Klaich to do so, according to the Associated Press.
Klaich decided to withhold the report from publication, which the investigation ruled did not violate any ethical standards. The report was intended for a legislative committee, but was kept internal instead, and most of its recommendations were adopted.
Stephen Hirschfield, the investigator, said that Klaich used the report properly:
All of the witnesses I spoke to credibly said that neither Klaich nor anyone else ever told them that there was any intention to distribute the McGuiness report to the Committee. … Klaich commissioned the report for his own internal purposes, and he had the right to decide whether or not he wanted to voluntarily disclose it to the public.
Furthermore, the McGuiness report was kept from the committee because of timing, according to Hirschfield’s report. The committee’s final meeting was on June 17th, for which the report was not ready, and which was a work session that didn’t have testimony scheduled into it. Klaich’s emails state otherwise and that rewrites were to be made specifically for the June 17th meeting. Meeting minutes also show that there were testimonies from 10 people, including Klaich.
Hirschfield interviewed three Nevada System of Higher Education staff members, College of Southern Nevada President Michael Richards, two officials of the National Center for Higher Education Management systems, and Klaich.
The $50,000 report will be discussed by the Board of Regents on September 10th and 11th.
According to Siobhan McAndrew of the Reno Gazette-Journal, Hirschfield is a founding partner of Hirschfield Kraemer, and the CEO of the Employment Law Alliance, which deals in labor and employment practices in higher education.