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October 9, 2015

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Nevada Wonk

Dina Titus retires from UNLV with $162,000 buyout

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Dina Titus

Retirement so far is working out great for former U.S. Rep. Dina Titus.

She recently accepted a lucrative buyout from UNLV, where she has taught for decades, a move that leaves her time and money to travel, relax and explore her next step. Her top choice: a return to politics.

Titus will receive a $162,000 lump sum for giving up her tenured political science professor’s job at the end of this month. She is one of 48 professors who accepted 150 percent of their annual salary to retire. (Titus’ husband, history professor Thomas Wright, also took the buyout. He will receive a $212,000 payout.)

Titus will still teach — she already is lined up to teach a nuclear politics course at UNLV this fall — and she is all but guaranteed a professor emeritus title. The honorary position already has been approved by the political science department; the university just has to finalize it, she said.

On top of the buyout money, Titus will receive about $3,000 for teaching the nuclear politics class, and she will continue to advise doctoral students but will receive no salary for that role. Without a full-time job, she’ll have more time to work on a book she’s writing, explore opportunities as an international political consultant and plan her next campaign.

“I’m certainly looking into it,” Titus said when asked about a future bid. “We’re watching the numbers and redistricting. I’ll probably make a decision in the fall.”

Titus, a Democrat, lost House reelection in November after being narrowly defeated by Republican Joe Heck. While she is vague about specifics, she has made no secret of her desire to once again run for public office. Most suspect she will try for Nevada’s new 4th Congressional District.

Titus’ return to university life after being on leave while serving in Congress was bumpy. Weeks after the semester began, the UNLV College Republicans launched a vicious campaign against her, criticizing her course load and campus radio show and accusing her of using university resources to further her political career. The College Republicans repeatedly claimed she earned $100,000 for teaching only one class and accused her of using the university to maintain her visibility while she pondered another race.

In fact, Titus earned $107,855 annually for teaching one course, hosting a radio show and collaborating with the Black Mountain Institute. (She took home half that -- $53,958 -- for teaching the spring semester.) She said her radio show focused on literature, history, social welfare and other non-political topics.

Titus on Thursday denied that the criticism forced her out but seemed to concede that it played a role in her decision.

“A lot of things came together at the right time,” Titus said. “I’ve been there 34 years and they were good years all around, but it’s time to redirect my energy.”

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