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Regent Sam Lieberman, longtime champion of higher education, has died

Jackie Valley
Jackie Valley

Regent Sam Lieberman passed away Friday morning, according to Nevada System of Higher Education officials. He was 58.

No other information was immediately available.

“We were devastated to learn of Sam’s death,” NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly said in a statement. “He was so passionate about Nevada’s public higher education system and he cared very deeply about bettering our system for our students.”

Lieberman took office as a Board of Regents member, representing District 5 in Clark County, in 2015. Last month, he had filed for re-election.

Lieberman, a longtime force in the state’s higher education realm, also previously served as chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party.

Gov. Steve Sisolak reflected on Lieberman’s death early Friday evening on Twitter.

“I was saddened to learn about the passing of NV Board of Regents member Sam Lieberman, a champion of higher education in Nevada, fighter for those most vulnerable in our society, & a genuinely good person” he wrote. “Sam will be sorely missed by his family, friends, & everyone he touched.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Lieberman a person with a "public servant's heart."

“He did the important, yet often quiet, behind the scenes work to help build our state party into what it is today," Reid said in a statement. "And he did the work for all the right reasons. He fought to make sure those with disabilities had a voice and a seat at the table. In fact, he fought to give everyone a voice. I will ever be grateful that I had the chance to get to know him and Nevada will always be a better place because of his commitment to the values that make our state great.”

A profile of Lieberman on the NSHE website highlights his commitment to the regent role and the overall system. 

“I’ve been a student of the Board of Regents for a long time,” Lieberman said in the 2017 interview. “I attended my first Board meeting as a student government representative in the early 80s and that experience felt like a natural path of what I wanted to do with my life.”

Lieberman graduated from UNLV in 1996 with a degree in social work. Over the years, he served on various boards and was active in the nonprofit sector.

Regent Chair Jason Geddes echoed the tributes pouring in from state leaders and education officials.

“I have never met a greater advocate for students and their concerns," Geddes said in a statement. "He was a great leader and a great friend. I’m absolutely shocked and saddened by this news.”

This story was updated at 5:48 p.m. to include his age and at 5:55 p.m. to include statements from NSHE officials.


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