Regents’ Distinguished Nevadans, Honorary Degrees Announced

HENDERSON – The Nevada Board of Regents announced the recipients of the 2020 Distinguished Nevadan awards, the Nevada System of Higher Education’s most prestigious honor, and two honorary degree recipients which will be conferred at NSHE’s Spring commencement ceremonies.

Honorary Degrees are awarded to people who have made significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of academic life and programs at one of NSHE’s eight institutions.

The College of Southern Nevada

  • Jeffrey Cooper has served on the College of Southern Nevada Foundation board for more than 10 years and has been a tireless advocate for CSN students and programs. Jeff has introduced many in Southern Nevada and beyond to CSN which has led to philanthropic support of CSN priorities. In the last three years, through Jeff’s leadership, counsel and outreach, the CSN Foundation successfully raised more than $3 million to meet the Engelstad Family Foundation challenge match. The successful completion of the campaign set a new fundraising standard for the Foundation. More importantly, through Jeff’s leadership the Southern Nevada health care workforce, CSN students as well as patients in Southern Nevada will benefit from a new Health Sciences building in at the CSN Henderson campus, allowing CSN to double the number of nurses who graduate every year.

CSN President Federico Zaragoza will present Jeffrey Cooper with an honorary associate degree at the May 18, 2020 commencement ceremony.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas

  • U.S. Senator Harry Reid has always been a fierce supporter of Nevada and UNLV. Among his many accomplishments while serving for 30 years in the U.S. Senate, he is renowned for tirelessly working to improving higher education, which he believed is the greatest equalizer for individual prosperity. Sen. Reid helped securing funding for UNLV’s dental school and more than 2,000 acres of federal land in North Las Vegas for a future UNLV campus. Sen. Reid is still seen on campus as Distinguished Fellow in Law and Policy in UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, and at the MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute in the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs, which he co-founded.

UNLV President Marta Meana will present Sen. Harry Reid with an honorary doctorate degree at the May 16, 2020 commencement ceremony.

Distinguished Nevadans

The Distinguished Nevadan award recognizes prominent individuals who have made significant contributions to the cultural, economic, scientific, or social advancement of Nevada and its people.

This year’s Distinguished Nevadans include:

  • Selma F. Bartlett – Nominated by Regent Patrick R. Carter – She helped found Nevada State College and set up scholarships there and at UNLV with her late husband, Troy Bartlett. The pair helped found the hospital system now known as St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, as well as Henderson’s first senior center and below-market rental housing.
  • Thomas S. Dolan – Nominated by Regent Carol Del Carlo – An alumnus of UNR, Tom is the founder and owner of the Dolan auto group. His business acumen has allowed for a lifetime of philanthropic giving. He is a founding member and creator of CAREChest which is a free, critical health resource designed to fill insurance gaps for underserved populations.
  • Marybel Batjer – Nominated by Regent Jason Geddes – The former chief of staff for Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, Marybel was also Vice President for Public Policy and Corporate Social Responsibility at Caesars Entertainment Inc., where she developed and promoted corporate social responsibility policy and initiatives. She is also a former Vice Chair of the State of Nevada Colorado River Commission.
  • Justice Michael A. Cherry (Ret.) – Nominated by Regent Sam Lieberman – Michael Cherry is a former Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court. His legal career spanned 50 years and included stints as a Deputy Clark County Public Defender, Touro University professor, head of the Clark County Special Public Defender’s office, Eighth Judicial District Court judge, and as Special Master in the MGM Grand Hotel Fire Litigation.
  • Former Mayor Oscar B. Goodman – Nominated by Regent Donald Sylvantee McMichael Sr. – Besides having the honor of being No. 1 Ambassador for tourism in Las Vegas and a renown criminal defense attorney, Goodman served three four-year terms as the “Happiest Mayor in the Universe” for Las Vegas. His accomplishments include the creation of Symphony Park, home to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and the Discovery Children’s Museum.
  • Warren L. Lerude – Nominated by Regent Kevin J. Page – The Pulitzer Prize Winner in Journalism for Editorial Writing in 1977, Lerude, an alumnus of UNR, a professor of journalism emeritus (media law and media management) at the Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno. Warren served Nevada journalism by leading efforts with UNR President Joe Crowley to elevate the journalism department to the Reynolds School of Journalism. Warren further served Nevada journalism by leading the legislative effort to establish a strong shield law protecting journalists’ confidential sources in investigative reporting.
  • Senator Harry Reid – Nominated by the full Board of RegentsSee Honorary Degrees
  • Robert Stoldal – Nominated by the full Board of Regents – An alumnus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he was the editor of the student newspaper, Bob is an icon in Nevada television news. He most recently retired as news director of KSNV News 3 in Las Vegas. During a career that spanned five decades, he has served as a radio announcer, reporter, weatherman, news director, and vice president of news. Bob also serves as Chairman of the Board for the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society and the City of Las Vegas Historical Preservation Commission. He also sits on the boards of Preserve Nevada and the Nevada State Commission on Cultural Affairs.


The Nevada System of Higher Education, comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute, serves the educational and job training needs of Nevada. NSHE provides educational opportunities to more than 100,000 students and is governed by the Board of Regents.