Passing of Former Regent Harold Jesse Jacobsen

LAS VEGAS – Former Regent Harold Jesse Jacobsen, who served the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) from 1962 to 1974 and as Chairman of the Board from 1970 to 1974, passed away in January. He was 102 years old.

“Regent Jacobsen was a selfless advocate for the Nevada System of Higher Education, its eight institutions, and its students,” said Regents Chairman Mark Doubrava. “On behalf of the Board of Regents, Chancellor Melody Rose, NSHE staff, and our entire system, I want to express our sympathies to Regent Jacobsen’s family.”

Vice Chair Carol Del Carol added, “Regent Jacobsen was a tremendous leader who advocated for and oversaw significant growth of our public higher education system, including renaming Nevada Southern University to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the founding of both Great Basin College and Western Nevada College.”

Regent Jacobsen was born in Elko and grew up on the family ranch in Diamond Valley which he chronicled in his book “There Ain’t No Fences.” A graduate from the University of Nevada in Reno with a degree in Agriculture, Jacobsen developed a love for politics when he lobbied the Nevada Legislature to save the university farm. His career in politics would include serving as the mayor of Carson City and a Nevada State Assemblyman.

During his service on the Board of Regents, he helped broaden public higher education opportunities throughout Nevada, including the foundation of two of NSHE’s four community colleges, Great Basin College and Western Nevada College, and the establishment of the UNR School of Medicine. As a Regent he also saw Nevada Southern University officially become the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1969.

In 1980, Regent Jacobsen was recognized as a Distinguished Nevadan, NSHE’s most prestigious honor. The Nevada State Legislature issued a proclamation on April 19, 2013 as a day to honor his service to Nevada.

Regent Jacobsen is survived by his wife, five daughters and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A mass and celebration of life will be held Friday, Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m. at St. Therese of the Little Flower Catholic Church in Reno. The services will be live streamed on the church’s website at

Donations in his memory can be made to the Regent Harold Jacobsen Scholarship Endowment by sending checks payable to UNR Foundation, Mail Stop 0162, Reno, NV 89557.


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.