UPDATE APRIL 3: UNLV President Len Jessup announced he is resigning from the university to take a job in California.
Jessup will remain at UNLV through commencement ceremonies in June, according to a letter released Tuesday. He officially begins his new job as president at Claremont Graduate University on July 1.
"This is a bittersweet decision for both Kristi and me given the true love we have for UNLV and the enormous amount of love expressed over the past several weeks from thousands of colleagues and friends – both on and off campus," he said.
Jessup notes in the letter that he thought of retiring after his tenure at the school until events over the last few months indicated that the Nevada System of Higher Education regents wanted him out.
"Events over the last several months have clearly signaled that the Regents and the Chancellor have decided upon a vision and implemented a management structure for UNLV that is inconsistent with what I believe is in the best interests of UNLV," he wrote.
Jessup said he has "been met by personal and professional attacks by the Chancellor and some Regents." He added that this led to a "working environment that is not productive for me or my staff."
According to Jessup, the attacks reached a head on March 16 "after approximately nine months of increased antagonistic, invasive, and consistent interference and animosity consistently expressed on behalf of the Regents by various Regents and the Chancellor." That was when he said he was told his tenure would come to a close either through termination or resignation.
Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly released a statement regarding Jessup's resignation. He noted his concerns with operational issues at UNLV but did not acknowledge it being antagonistic.
“Earlier today Dr. Len Jessup announced that he plans to step down as President of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I want to thank President Jessup for his service to the University and the Nevada System of Higher Education.
It is fair to say that I have significant concerns about operational issues I have observed at UNLV. Those concerns are well known to President Jessup. We have engaged in a forthright and professional dialog about those concerns for several months – including by way of his annual performance evaluation. It has always been my goal to provide President Jessup constructive feedback aimed at helping UNLV achieve its goals.
On March 5th President Jessup expressed to me his frustrations - that he did not want to continue as President, and that he was looking for other opportunities. We never had a conversation prior to our March 5th meeting about him leaving the Presidency. We subsequently had several conversations about timing and when he anticipated resigning to accept another opportunity. On March 14th he confirmed this when he informed the UNLV community of his intent to look for other opportunities. On March 20th, I spoke publicly for the first time about this matter and indicated that his required periodic review would occur in the fall, as required by Board policy, and that additional resources would be provided to him to address my concerns, including the hiring of a Chief Operating Officer (COO). On March 28th I met with President Jessup to discuss how the COO position could be structured to address my concerns and provide him the most benefit.
I recognize that this has been a difficult few weeks for the UNLV community. In the coming months we will be working closely with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other members of the UNLV community on this transition. I believe UNLV offers a great opportunity for an academic visionary, with impeccable credentials, and the passion and commitment to develop a world class institution. That will be our standard as we embark on a thorough and tireless presidential search.”
The Board of Regents Chairman Kevin J. Page released a statement, saying that Jessup's statement includes "significant factual inaccuracies."
“I am aware that President Jessup has circulated a public statement regarding his departure from UNLV to the UNLV campus community. There are several significant factual inaccuracies in President Jessup’s statement that do not accurately reflect the events that occurred over the past few months. As Chair of the Board of Regents, I am constrained by Board policy and the Open Meeting law from engaging in a debate or discussion of the issues outside of a properly noticed public meeting. Further, the Board itself may only act in a properly noticed public meeting, and no individual Regent, including the Chair, may speak for the Board. The Board will address these concerns at the appropriate time in accordance with the Open Meeting Law, and its policies and procedures.
I wish President Jessup well in his new position.”
UPDATE MARCH 20: The Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor has instructed the UNLV president to hire a chief operating officer.
In a statement from Chancellor Thom Reilly, he gave President Len Jessup a written evaluation in January per policy.
"In that evaluation and in our subsequent meeting I outlined, what I believe, were his accomplishments and successes and the areas he needs to address," Reilly said in the statement. "Specifically, I informed him of my concerns with UNLV’s operational deficiencies and how those problems were an impediment to achieve our shared strategic goals, including recognition as a top tier research institution."
Also per policy, Jessup will undergo an evaluation this fall, which includes input from students, faculty and the community, according to the statement.
"I have expressed to President Jessup my intention to adhere to this policy, and I will take appropriate action in the months leading to his evaluation," Reilly said.
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) -- More fallout over UNLV President Len Jessup's possible departure - one of UNLV's biggest donors is rescinding a $14 million gift.