Regents’ Distinguished Nevadans, Honorary Degrees, and the Sam Lieberman Student Scholarships Announced

HENDERSON, Nevada – The Nevada Board of Regents announced the recipients of the 2022 Distinguished Nevadan awards, the Nevada System of Higher Education’s most prestigious honor, and four honorary degrees that will be conferred at NSHE’s spring commencement ceremonies.

The Board of Regents also awarded the “Sam Lieberman Regents’ Award for Student Scholarship” winners for 2022, honoring nine students for their academic achievements, leadership ability, and service contributions throughout the state.


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 – Honorary Associate degree

Larry Mason is a former CSN Diversity Officer. He is a respected community leader and one of the first elected Latino/Hispanic persons to the Clark County School District Board of Trustees, where he served as the board president. He has had a lifelong career in higher education (with NSHE from 1984-2010) and served as the past NSHE Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council (EDIC) co-chair and in 2015 received the Ohtli Award from the Government of Mexico for distinguished service. He remains involved and active in the local community through work with the Latin Chamber of Commerce and alumni groups.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas – Honorary Doctorate degree

Ann-Margret was the leading actress of her generation. Born in in Sweden, she came to America at the age of six. She studied at Northwestern University and left for Las Vegas to pursue a career as a singer. Her singing and acting careers span six decades, including starring with Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas (1964) that contained an iconic scene filmed at UNLV in what is now the Barrick Museum of Art. She has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards. In 2010, she won an Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2021, she was inducted into the UNLV College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas – Honorary Doctorate degree

Sigmund “Sig” Rogich is President of The Rogich Communications Group and a lifelong Nevadan. He is a former United States Ambassador to Iceland and was an Assistant to the President for former President George H. W. Bush during his administration. Mr. Rogich also served as a Director of the Tuesday Team; the entity responsible for President Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984. Prior to that, in 1973 Mr. Rogich founded R&R Advertising, a company that grew to become Nevada’s largest marketing and advertising firm and has been integrally involved in the reinvention of Las Vegas’ image for more than twenty-five years. Rogich has also served on numerous boards and committees and has been actively involved with several charitable organizations, including an advisory Board member of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno and Opportunity Village; a member of the Board of Directors for Keep Memory Alive, the foundation for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health; and a founding Board member of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas.

University of Nevada, Reno – Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (posthumously)

Carrie and Mary Dann co-founded the Western Shoshone Defense Project, which chronicles the battle to preserve unceded Western Shoshone homelands to the U.S. Government. It is now housed within University of Nevada, Reno University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives department. The Defense Project is a collection of documents spanning decades that demonstrates the Project’s mission to affirm Western Shoshone jurisdiction over Western Shoshone ancestral homelands by protecting, preserving, and restoring Shoshone rights and lands for present and future generations. Carrie Dann also advocated for Native American Tribes in Southern Nevada and protested against mining companies contaminating sacred land and waters of the Western Shoshone.


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:

  • Carol Franc Buck, nominated by Regent Carol Del Carlo Carol Franc Buck is a long-time philanthropist and avid supporter of the arts and education, believing that art education is an effective way to engage young people in learning across all subjects; helping them develop creativity, a shared cultural understanding, and a sense of community. For more than four decades, the Carol Franc Buck Foundation have supported numerous programs on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, including a lead gift to the University Arts Building. Her philanthropy includes gifts to KUNR-FM public radio, the Nightingale Concert Hall, the Pride of the Sierra Marching Band, Carol Franc Buck Foundation Sculpture Garden at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the Nevada Museum of Art, the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, the San Francisco Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. An Emeritus Trustee of University of Nevada, Reno Foundation, Carol also has given her time to serve on the boards of the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Opera Association, the Arizona Opera Company, and the Western Opera Theater.
  • Guy Clifton, nominated by Regent Jason GeddesGuy Clifton is an award-winning journalist, author and Nevada history buff. He was raised in Gabbs, Nevada, before attending the University of Nevada, Reno’s Reynolds School of Journalism, where he worked at the Nevada Sagebrush 86 newspaper. He began his professional career as sports editor of the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza in 1986 before serving as editor of The Record-Courier in Gardnerville. His 30-year newspaper career is perhaps best known for the 22 years he spent at the Reno Gazette-Journal in a variety of roles. Clifton is the author of eight books, all with Nevada themes, including the popular “You Know You’re a Nevadan, if…” series.
  • Mark Hall-Patton, nominated by Regent Donald Sylvantee McMichael Sr.Mark Hall-Patton is the Museum Administrator for the Clark County Museum system, where he oversees the Clark County Museum, the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum, and the Searchlight History Museum. Prior to that Mark was Director of the San Luis Obispo County Historical Museum in California. He has worked for both public and private non-profit museums and has consulted with numerous start-up and established museums and museum boards. He is the author of two books and over 400 published articles and has written and produced 48 local history videos. In 2009, he hosted a live interview roundtable program on C4 television in the Vegas valley and is regularly seen on the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” as a visiting expert. In addition to the Nevada Museums Association, where he served as President from 2000 to 2002 and 2008-2010, Hall-Patton served on the California Association of Museums and Western Museums Association boards. He is a member of the Board of the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation and the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame.


Formerly known as the Regents’ Scholar Award, the “Sam Lieberman Regents’ Award for Student Scholarship” award was renamed for Regent Sam Lieberman who passed away in 2020, in commemoration of his service and dedication to public higher education in Nevada.

“These nine students represent some of our best and brightest students in Nevada public higher education and I’m proud of their accomplishments,” Regents Chair Cathy McAdoo said.

Each recipient will receive a $5,000 stipend funded by the Nevada System of Higher Education administration.

The honorees include:

  • Karen Williams-Aguirre, College of Southern Nevada
  • Zachary Stamp, Great Basin College
  • Lauren Porter, Nevada State College
  • Cassandra (Cassie) Barber, Truckee Meadows Community College
  • Vanessa Booth, Undergraduate, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Maria Ramos Gonzalez, Graduate, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Nicole Choma, Undergraduate, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Ashish Kasar, Graduate, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Ki’Hana Garcia, Western Nevada College

About NSHE

The Nevada System of Higher Education, comprised of two doctoral-granting research 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 Nevada Board of Regents. The System includes the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada State College, Desert Research Institute, the College of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College, and Western Nevada College.