Ex-congresswoman to head Touro system in Vallejo, Nevada

By Sarah Rohrs/Times-Herald staff writer 

POSTED:   12/19/2013 09:49:11 AM PST

A former Nevada congresswoman has been named CEO and Senior Provost of Touro College and University System.

Shelley Berkley will replace Michael Harter whose leadership led to the creation of six new schools in a five-year period in both California and Nevada.

Besides leading the university system in both states, Harter left his own mark on the Vallejo campus, including 113 bleach white steps between buildings named "Harter Way" on the Mare Island campus.

"He will be greatly missed," said Andrea Garcia, Touro director of external operations.

Harter took care of many big picture items while Touro University California Provost Marilyn Hopkins has presided over day-to-day operations at the Vallejo school. Harter was appointed as the CEO over both the California and Nevada divisions in 2008.

"It's been a privilege to work with him," Hopkins was quoted as saying in an article on his retirement posted on the Touro University website. "He brought a renewed sense of confidence to the campus," she said.

While at the helm in Vallejo, he was instrumental in creating an undergrandate program, and helped plan a cancer treatment and research center on Mare Island's which was subsequently suspended in early 2009.

Harter will stay on for awhile to assist Berkley in the transition. She will oversee the Mare Island campus and Touro schools in Nevada, devoting part of her time each week to both areas.

In a prepared statement Harter said he believes Touro will prosper under Berkley's leadership. "Having seen Shelley's leadership at a state and federal level for the past 19 years, I am delighted with her appointment as my replacement and am confident that she will successfully build on the programs we've established," he said.

Berkley was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 and represented Nevada's first Congressional District from 1999 to 2013. She was the first woman to serve the district and held the position for seven terms. Prior to her election to Congress she served as a member of the Nevada State System of Higher Education's Board of Regents for eight years and previously served in the Nevada Legislature.

A 50-year resident of southern Nevada, Berkley was the first person in her family to attend college. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a degree in political science and received her juris doctorate from the University of San Diego, School of Law.

Prior to her political career, she served as an attorney for the Nevada State Commerce Department, in-house counsel for Southwest Gas Corporation, and vice president for government and legal affairs for the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

During Berkley's 14 years in Congress, she served on the Transportation, Small Business, Veterans Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and the Ways and Means committees.

While serving as a regent, she worked on several causes including maintaining low tuition costs low and creating a new law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Contact staff writer Sarah Rohrs at srohrs@timesheraldonline.com or (707) 553-6832. Follow her on Twitter@SarahVTH.