LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada’s universities and colleges have a new leader as Dale Erquiaga has been appointed acting chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Erquiaga, a well known figure in Nevada education circles, was appointed on an 11-2 vote Thursday on the UNR campus. Regents Lois Tarkanian and John Moran voted no.

“I’m a little shook,” Erquiaga said as he spoke to the board. “Please bear with me. It has been almost 41 years since I stepped foot on this campus as a freshman. And someone today said to me that my life has come full circle today.”

His contract calls for an 18-month term, and Erquiaga said he had no ambitions to serve longer than that. He said he was happy to serve as acting chancellor.

Erquiaga served as State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Nevada Department of Education under Gov. Brian Sandoval from 2013 to 2015. He is currently the executive director of the Kenny C. Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank affiliated with the UNR.

“I am a son of the Silver State, a grandson of immigrants to this country from the Basque country who has given over most of my life to improving the lives of others, and I’d like to believe that disposition began here on this campus,” Erquiaga said.

The board made the decision just over 10 weeks after Melody Rose resigned the position following a months-long dispute with regents.

Rose had submitted a hostile work environment complaint in early October 2021. Board Chair Cathy McAdoo and Vice Chair Patrick Carter had stepped aside from their roles with NSHE during a third-party investigation into the complaint.

In February, Rose’s complaint was rejected. McAdoo and Carter were reinstated through June of this year.

Erquiaga had a message to the presidents of Nevada’s universities and colleges: “I’ve got your back.”