I had the good fortune to meet with our Congressional delegation last week to discuss the importance of passing legislation that would protect Nevada’s DACA students. These young men and women are vital parts of our campus communities, as well as the communities in which they live and work. In addition, I had a chance to share our thoughts on the Prosper Act, draft federal legislation introduced in the House that would revamp the Higher Education Act. While there are some positive components of this bill including streamlining the application for federal assistance, the ability to use federal Pell grants for workforce certificates, increased apprenticeships, and focused efforts to ensure students are financially literate when applying for federal grants; there are some serious shortcomings that would reduce federal financial aid for students and shift the responsibility for student loan defaults from the federal governments to educational institutions.
Going forward, the Board of Regents approved a new strategic plan in January for the Nevada System of Higher Education. I’m excited about the opportunities and new levels of public accountability the implementation of this plan will bring to our state. Below are some steps our institutions have already taken toward meeting those goals.
Metric: Increase participation in post-secondary education
- GBC Task Teams, which include GBC staff, students and members of the public, were launched in January and will conclude their work in March. The topics center on college revitalization, athletics, Latino student population, and new programs. Students will also soon be surveyed so that their input will be added to the Task Team conversations. The recommendations from the groups will then be part of the input for the inaugural “All College Conversation Day” that will take place Friday, April 6.
Metric: Improve completion/student success rates and increase the number of individuals with a post-secondary credential
- UNLV student-athletes earned a collective fall semester GPA of 3.0, the highest in more than 15 years. UNLV also had 121 student-athletes named to the Dean’s Honor List, which is also the most in that time period.
- CSN recently revealed plans for three new student unions, one on each campus. The $80 million project – paid for by student-approved fees – will break ground this summer. The unions will include much-needed study space, multicultural centers, meeting rooms, advising offices and much more.
Goal: CLOSE THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP
Metric: Close the achievement gap among underserved populations
- University of Nevada, Reno’s ‘Strength through Diversity’ event highlighted new initiatives and updates on ongoing work involving diversity and inclusion. President Marc Johnson emphasized the importance of connecting diversity with inclusiveness, and the work that is being done to build a more inclusive campus environment for everyone. Patricia Richard, Chief Diversity Officer, provided an update on the progress being made toward developing the new Diversity Plan, and Albert Lee, Faculty Senate Diversity Committee Chair, discussed the campus climate study that will be launched by fall 2018.
- Western Nevada College started a Latino Cohort model in 2010. The objective of the cohort was to increase course completion, re-enrollment, and degree attainment. The program involves prescriptive scheduling, block scheduling, enrolling in 15 credits geared toward attaining a degree in two years, supplemental instruction provided by a cohort coach, and a commitment agreement. By 2017, the retention and success rates of the cohort effectively closed the achievement gap for Latino students at WNC.
Metric: Collaboratively address the challenges of the workforce and industry education needs of Nevada
- Truckee Meadows Community College and Panasonic have partnered to create an accelerated pathway for individuals looking to start a new career in a fast-growing industry. The Panasonic Preferred Pathway (P3) program is designed as an employment credential for people with no manufacturing experience. Participants completing the P3 Program will be considered for employment with Panasonic.
Metric: Co-develop solutions to the critical solutions facing 21st century Nevada and raise the overall research profile
- Earlier this year, DRI and Renown Institute for Health Innovation announced plans to significantly expand their population health initiative – the Healthy Nevada Project – with personal genomics company, Helix. Phase two of the ground-breaking study plans to offer an additional 40,000 Nevadans the opportunity to have their DNA sequenced and volunteer for research.
- Pathways to STEM Nevada (formerly Nevada STEM Pipeline) addresses Nevada’s compelling need for education and workforce training for its citizens in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The online resource outlines the potential pathways to a STEM career, via state programs and institutes. The focus is on increasing the number of students interested in pursuing STEM college degrees, and the ultimate goal is to strengthen Nevada’s future workforce and economic development. https://stempathways.epscorspo.nevada.edu/
NSHE WINS GOOD GOVERNMENT AWARD
- On February 28, the Nevada System of Higher Education won the Cashman Award for Good Government from the Nevada Taxpayers Association due to the efforts of the University of Nevada, Reno, which led the consolidation of police services at the Desert Research Institute and Truckee Meadows Community College. This consolidation and cost savings over a decade are estimated to reach $4.5 million.