President Richards’ Remarkable Path


Dr. Michael Richards

By Kheslleen Dimanche

Dr. Michael Richards, president of the College of Southern Nevada, is a remarkable man who has dedicated his life’s work to education.

Dr. Richards begins his day at 4:00 in the morning, during the work week. Before work he checks his emails and holds conference calls with community leaders and colleagues. By the time he arrives at his office on the West Charleston campus at 7:30 a.m., he heads to meetings. Dr. Richards’ schedule is loaded with events, activities, and meet-and-greets as he represents the College. He uses his time wisely focusing on: students, faculty innovation, college accreditation, legislative processes, and program implementations and expansions.

He works late into the evenings attending special events and sometimes he will bring his wife with him to attend productions and plays put on by the Department of Fine Arts.

The demands of the job require Dr. Richards to be on the clock and at his best every day. He makes tough decisions for the operations, management, and direction of the College and how it serves this community.

Currently he’s fighting for a fair budget formula for the College that would bring more equity to the schools in the Nevada System of Higher Education, providing more funds for CSN to operate. Additionally, he helped implement the new Emergency Operations Plan, an evacuation plan in case of emergencies, to ensure the highest level of safety on the campuses. He has worked with faculty and staff to improve academic opportunities for students, including Latinos and Native Americans.

Dr. Richards chose CSN because he felt he could make a difference here.

“I thought it was a terrific school. I wanted to be a part of advancing the College and helping it grow to be a great service to the community,” Dr. Richards said.

His favorite thing about working at CSN is his ability to affect change.

“We can adjust to the needs our community has and we can do that rather quickly,” Dr. Richards said. He explains how other universities have a tough time making changes quickly as bureaucratic processes get in the way, but at CSN change can be made to serve the students at a faster rate.

“That is a dimension of this institution that excites me still and it’s fun to be part of it!” Dr. Richards said.

James Marcantanio, president of the Future Business Leaders of America organization at CSN, said, “I did have the opportunity to briefly meet [Dr. Richards] at a scholarship event. He is a great man. He is easy to talk to and I think he is doing an excellent job in leading our school.”

Dr.  Richards had a long journey before holding the position he does now. He started with a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy. He earned a master’s in English. He then entered the Air Force for eight years. Afterwards, he taught for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. There he finished his doctorate at the University of Denver in higher education and business. He held higher-administrative roles such as associate provost at Southern Utah University and he taught during the span of his 30-year career. He retired. He decided to come out of retirement in 2005 to work as the vice president for academic affairs at CSN and then was elevated to his position as president in 2008.

On his weekends Dr. Richards enjoys spending time with his family.  “This weekend I’m going to take my wife to New York and we’re going to see a play and walk through Central Park,” Dr. Richards said. He is a father to five daughters and a grandfather to four boys and two girls.

He also enjoys watching baseball, especially former CSN student Outfielder Bryce Harper.

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