For those interested in recent news coverage about the University of Nevada, Reno wanting to lease some of its research farm property, I spent dozens of hours two years ago compiling research, conducting interviews, crawling through decades-old archives, and visiting with stakeholders and current employees (my former colleagues) to write a series of investigative opinion pieces at ThisisReno.com. The first was a set of interviews with the then University Provost (now the interim president, who wants to be the president), and then my follow-up series. Here are the articles, in order:
- Opinion: Surprise! Your curricula are under review
- Opinion: The University’s measurement dilemma
- Opinion: The Regents giveth, the Regents taketh away
- Opinion: University budget cut fallout – it’s a matter of perspective
- Opinion: The shades of gray in the University’s curricular review
- Opinion: Why agriculture, why now
Much of what I wrote about is still being debated, and some of the issues covered have been the subject of lawsuits, such as firing tenured faculty under the guise of a “curricular review,” and at least one federal civil rights complaint.
There’s very little innovative advocacy journalism left in this country, and I appreciate the opportunity to get to do some on a rare occasion — especially on issues I am passionate about, such as leadership, higher-ed. administration, change management and crisis communications.
Fortunately, some in the mainstream news are finally covering these issues to a degree that is deserved. The local daily rehashed Monday much of what was brought up in my series, citing some of the same sources.
The University is scrambling to justify its intentions, and it has been consistent only about trying to appease all fronts. Fortunately, since the original series appeared, the citizens of Reno have taken up the cause quite loudly.
While I understand the University’s rationale for consistently looking to its agricultural resources to subsidize the rest of campus, its current mismanagement of this issue can be attributed to a select few who are talking out of all sides of their mouths and appear to justify their current actions — attempts to lease agricultural land — with their past actions: diminishing agricultural programs so the land is no longer needed.
It’s pure spin.
Losing prime research land to commercial development is likely, and sadly, inevitable. Had the University staunchly stood behind its land-grant mission through the decades, the rhetoric coming out of the current and recent past administrations would not be what it is today.