Dear Friend of Higher Education:
Congratulations to Dr. Marc Johnson, the new president of the University of Nevada, Reno
Last Friday, Dr. Marc Johnson officially became the 16th president of the University of Nevada, Reno, after serving as interim president for the past year. During that interim year, Marc has done an outstanding job leading UNR through challenging times. Now, as president, he is poised to take UNR to even greater heights in the years ahead. I hope you will all join me in welcoming and congratulating President Johnson on his new permanent role at UNR.
Beginning in late 2011, the Board of Regents started a national search to find a new president for the university. To put the importance of a university presidency in perspective, consider that UNR is a community of 21,000 people. Around 18,000 are students and about 3,000 are people doing all of the jobs it takes to run a community, from police services to facilities maintenance, as well as those who recruit and care for the daily needs of students.
During the campus visits and interviews with faculty, staff, students, alumni and local business leaders, it became clear that Marc had broad support in all groups. While this, in itself, is a remarkable accomplishment, it is even more noteworthy when you consider that Marc was at the helm (as provost and later interim president) when many of the drastic budget cuts were implemented at UNR. These decisions often create strained relationships with other university administrators and faculty, yet Marc still received significant support from the campus community. Despite having to implement these difficult decisions, he maintained a reputation for fairness and integrity. To me, that says more about his character and leadership than any curriculum vitae or interview.
Throughout the search process, several recurring themes about Marc were noted by various groups and individuals:
- He has extensive knowledge of UNR, its state-wide mission, and the diverse community that it serves.
- He is considered to be a straight-talking, trustworthy, and ethical leader.
- He recognizes the challenges UNR faces and is well aware of what needs to be done to restore stability to the institution and continue its development as a top-level research university.
- He is well versed in collaborations and partnerships that allow the university to help businesses improve our state's economic development efforts.
Marc has held faculty and administrative appointments at five land-grant universities. As a faculty member, he knows what it's like to teach in a classroom, raise your own grant money to complete research projects and to get your work published in a highly competitive environment.
He also has more than 20 years of experience as a dean and provost and has been involved in advocacy, fund-raising, and communication with donors, advocacy groups, alumni, industry, agency personnel, and public policy makers at the national, regional, and local levels.
In addition to revealing himself as a strong leader and communicator, Marc's experience holding faculty and administrative positions in land-grant universities like UNR, as well as his tenure at UNR, has provided him valuable insight into the unique missions of this type of institution.
Since Marc has been at UNR, the institution has experienced record increases in diversity, enrollment, National Merit Scholars, retention and graduation rates. In recent weeks, the university has even received in excess of $6 million in donations from two separate donors, as well as notification that it will be awarded a $10 million federally funded COBRE biomedical excellence grant.
The selection of Marc Johnson as UNR's 16th president draws a successful conclusion to one of three presidential searches our Board of Regents has undertaken this year. In the days ahead, the regents will be selecting new presidents for Great Basin College and Nevada State College. These are truly historic and exciting times for Nevada higher education and I look forward to the bright future UNR will have under the leadership of Dr. Marc Johnson.
This story would not be complete without noting the tragic circumstances under which Marc began his leadership tenure - the death of President Milt Glick. In addition to his noted strengths as a solid academic leader, Marc showed his human side as he helped a grieving campus come together and begin the task of rebuilding.
Welcome President Johnson.