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Regents agree on $110,000 settlement to oust chief of staff after 3 months on the job

Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
Higher Education
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Robert Kilroy, the chief of staff and special counsel to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, resigned late Thursday and agreed to a $110,000 payout from regents that ends his stint under the board after just three months on the job, according to documents obtained by The Nevada Independent

The surprise resignation came after three unnamed regents called on Board Chair Cathy McAdoo on Monday to convene a special public meeting to discuss Kilroy’s firing on Friday. 

The reasons behind Kilroy’s ouster have not been made public, and no details were included on Friday’s meeting agenda posted online.

In a statement, Kilroy’s personal attorney, James Dean Leavitt — a former regent who publicly criticized the board and threatened legal action after he was not included in a list of finalists for the chief of staff position — wrote that once the meeting was scheduled, “it caused irreparable harm and would have made it impossible for him to succeed regardless of the meeting outcome tomorrow.” 

The statement also thanked the board for what Kilroy called “the opportunity of a lifetime” and that he “hopes that his successor will be given the opportunity to succeed,” adding that he would give no further comment.  

McAdoo did not immediately respond to requests for comment via email and phone. A press release sent late Thursday confirmed that McAdoo accepted Kilroy’s resignation, and said the Friday meeting had been canceled as a result.

Kilroy was hired in June, after a months-long search process that was plagued by stops and starts since 2021. He replaced former chief of staff and special counsel Dean Gould, who resigned at the end of 2020 following two public disputes with former Regent Lisa Levine. 

It’s the latest departure at the top levels of the higher education system, which has endured staffing turmoil in recent years. Most notably, the system spent several months embroiled in an outside investigation over claims of a hostile work environment and gender discrimination from former Chancellor Melody Rose

That investigation found “insufficient evidence” of gender discrimination, though it also found instances of an “inappropriate professional environment” and potential ethics violations by some regents. 

Rose later settled with regents, resigning as part of a $610,000 payout in April that, like Kilroy, precluded a public personnel session in which regents would have voted on Rose’s continued employment.She was later replaced in June by acting Chancellor Dale Erquiaga, who has also signaled he will not remain as chancellor beyond the end of his contract at the end of 2023.  

Update: 11/17/2022 at 4:08 p.m. — This story was updated following an announcement late Thursday that the special regents meeting to consider Kilroy's employment had been canceled.

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