It has been quite the eventful summer here at the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Board of Regents Chair Jason Geddes and I have worked closely with President Marc Johnson and Provost Kevin Carmin, and the leadership at the University of Nevada, Reno in the wake of the explosion that damaged two residence halls earlier this month. We are fortunate no one was seriously injured. We will continue to closely monitor the situation as our colleagues prepare for the upcoming fall semester and the challenges they will face.
I want to assure you that the safety of our students and staff is of paramount importance to the Board of Regents and myself. We will continue to support the university in its recovery from this incident.
I want to thank everyone from emergency responders to the university staff who are continuing to work to see UNR through this distressing episode. President Johnson and his team have done an exemplary job managing this crisis and putting in place plans to house displaced incoming students and meet the needs of everyone affected.
Meanwhile, we are hoping things will stop shaking a little bit in the Silver State long enough as we prepare to welcome back our more than 100,000 students this upcoming semester.
But let us take a moment to look back at what was a truly successful and remarkable Spring 2019 semester that marked some wonderful achievements for our system.
I am very proud as Nevada’s seven public higher education institutions graduated more than 12,000 students with doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees, along with numerous training certificates in Spring 2019.
MGM College Opportunity Program
More than 500 employees of MGM Resorts International from across the nation have applied in the first semester of the company’s College Opportunity Program, which provides more than 70,000 MGM Resorts employees in the United States with access to free college through NSHE and its seven degree granting institutions. The MGM College Opportunity Program marked the first time a Fortune 500 company has partnered in this manner with an entire system of higher education. It allows eligible U.S.-based MGM Resorts employees to receive online education through NSHE institutions, free of charge for all credit hours. Classes begin in August.
NSHE Transforms Remedial Education, Mandates ‘Corequisite Support’
Nevada’s public higher education institutions are transforming the way students receive remediation, doing away with traditional remedial classes and instead offering just-in-time tutoring and academic support ensuring that every student who enters the system is enrolled in college-level courses that will lead to a degree or a certificate. NSHE Board of Regents have approved a plan to require “Corequisite Support” for students who currently place in traditional remedial math and English classes at NSHE’s degree-granting institutions.
State Legislative Agenda
NSHE will receive a 10.88 percent increase in state funding for the 2019-21 biennial budget compared to the current biennium. NSHE also received $162 million in Capital Improvement Projects and $35.1 million enhancement requests during the 80th session of the Nevada state legislature.
Southern Nevada University Police Consolidation Progresses
In order to increase student safety and department efficiency, the University Police Services, Southern Command, was created at the Board’s direction earlier this year. Since then, it has moved into a new law enforcement complex, is purchasing a state-of-the-art communications system, received $236,000 in grant funding, and established an office of Clery Compliance for all four institutions in Southern Nevada.
The new police department provides services UNLV, CSN, Nevada State College and Desert Research Institute under the leadership Associate Vice President and Director of Southern Police Services Adam Garcia.
Student safety, and the safety of all faculty, staff, administration and campus visitors remain a priority for NSHE and the Board of Regents.
One System Benefit to Saving Resources and Cutting Costs with NV Energy
The Board of Regents is negotiating a contract with NV Energy that allows all eight institutions throughout Nevada, as well as NSHE administrative buildings, to obtain energy from 100 percent renewable resources and save the system hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
As one system, NSHE is positioned to take advantage of NV Energy’s new Optional Pricing Program Rate and allow the entire system of higher education in Nevada to become a national leader in its commitment to renewable energy.
Next Steps in Closing the Achievement Gap
Adopting the goal of eliminating achievement disparities among minority students by 2025, the Board of Regents reviewed the status of current strategies and next steps to close the gap across all NSHE degree-granting institutions.
Great strides have been made in the last ten years by targeting students who need the most help. Retention and graduation rates have increased, thanks to high touch student support programs on every campus. Other next steps focus on student-driven feedback; culturally responsive training for faculty and staff; recruiting and retaining minority faculty and staff; and sharing student success data disaggregated by race/ethnicity.
We need to ensure that underrepresented students are graduating at the same level as other students.
On a Personal Note
As we are set to begin a new academic year, I look forward to working with recently elected Board of Regents Chair Jason Geddes and Vice Chair Dr. Mark Doubrava.
And finally, after much deliberation and consideration I have decided to not seek to extend my contract as Chancellor of NSHE. In August 2020, I plan on returning to Arizona and continue my work at Arizona State University.
I am extremely proud of everything we have accomplished, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to grow our institutions and increase student success.
Enjoy the remainder of the summer.
Chancellor, Nevada System of Higher Education