Regents Name Former Gov. Brian Sandoval University of Nevada President at $500K a Year

Posted on: September 17, 2020, 03:45h. 

Last updated on: September 18, 2020, 11:09h.

Former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, until recently an executive at MGM Resorts, has been named president of the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).

Brian Sandoval
Former Gov. Brian Sandoval is the new University of Nevada, Reno President. He will receive a base salary of $500,000. (Image: KOLO-TV)

The Nevada Board of Regents voted Thursday to appoint the 57-year-old Sandoval to lead the state’s flagship university.

The regents also voted to approve Sandoval’s base salary of $500,000 a year from Oct. 5, 2020, to Oct. 4, 2024.

He will also be paid $18,000 a year in housing expenses, $8,000 a year in vehicle expenses, and $5,000 a year in hosting expenses, according to Chancellor Melody Rose. He will be eligible for a cost of living increase if approved by the state Legislature.

His contract is the same as that of newly appointed UNLV President Keith Whitfield.

In a brief statement following the regents’ videoconference vote, Sandoval thanked the board for their support. He said leading the school is “an honor of a lifetime.”

Sandoval’s wife, Lauralyn Sandoval, and a daughter were present during the former governor’s brief acceptance statement. Lauralyn Sandoval is vice president of new markets at Aristocrat Technologies, according to her Linked-In account.

Sandoval noted that his wife is a 1992 UNR graduate.

Selection Process

A hiring committee on Wednesday recommended Sandoval to become the university’s 17th president. This recommendation came after the committee evaluated comments and feedback heard at open forum sessions held earlier in the week.

Sandoval replaces Marc A. Johnson, who announced in November he is stepping down after eight years at the top. Johnson has accepted a faculty position in the department of economics at UNR.

In the regents’ videoconference, some speakers who addressed the board noted that Sandoval lacked the higher education experience of the other finalists. The other three finalists had administrative experience at the university level.

Sandoval, Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, is a former president of global gaming development at MGM Resorts International. He joined MGM Resorts in January 2019 but stepped down last April to pursue what he called his “dream job” as UNR president.

The former two-term Republican governor’s passion for the university runs deep. He even has a GOPAK personalized license plate to show support for UNR’s Wolf Pack athletic teams.

Public Policy Experience

Sandoval was born in California but grew up in Reno, Nev. He earned an English degree from UNR and a law degree at Ohio State University.

Sandoval also has served as a state legislator and Nevada attorney general. In addition, he was a federal judge and a member and chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.

On the Gaming Commission, Sandoval sought to limit neighborhood gaming and to ban slot machines with themes attractive to children.

At MGM Resorts, Sandoval is credited with using his public policy experience to help boost the company’s status in the Japanese gaming market. He also is credited with expanding MGM’s sports-betting presence in the United States.