Regent Candidates Debate Higher Education Issues

Reported by: Joe Hart
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Updated: 10/06/2012 7:14 am

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & - The two candidates running for District 9 on the Nevada Board of Regents both share a  passion for education.  Ron Knecht, the incumbent , is being challenged by longtime professor Michon Mackedon.

During Friday nigh's debate at Western Nevada College the two were cordial and respectful of each other, even shaking hands at one point during the middle of the debate.  But there are slight differences in philosophy that came out Friday.  

When it comes on-line learning to expand educational opportunities Knecht embraces the idea, "To really push forward as fast as we can with new technologies so that we can reduce our costs, increase our effectiveness and above all increase our enrollments," Knecht said. 

Mackedon is more cautious, "There's still something missing for the traditional classroom student.  So I think we have to solve how we're going to mix what we do on-line with what we demand in the classroom," she told the crowd.

Both candidates agree budget cuts have taken a severe toll on higher education.   But the incumbent focused more on the numbers, "We should be looking not for the hold harmless, steady as she goes budget the Governor proposed, we should be looking for at least 15 million dollars a year more," Knecht said.

The challenger talked about budget philosophy, "I haven't really discussed this with anyboby but my inner-head.  Why not have an A- line budget that is never changed?  Then you're not in the business of rebuilding,"  Mackedon said.

There was no disagreement when it came to the issue of possible future tuition hikes.  Both candidates went on the record saying they oppose any plan to have students pay more.

"I'm opposed to tax increases, I'm opposed to tuition and fee increases and I'm not going to voting to support either of those," Knecht said.

Mackedon tried to make her stance on any tuition hike as clear as possible, "I would vote against it," she said.

Friday night's debate was interactive.  Students watching from remote campuses in fallon, douglas county and elko submitted questions electronically.  It's part of an effort to ensure the candidate's messages and responses reach as many people as possible before election day.
The debate was put on by the Associated Students of Western Nevada College.

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