Dear Friend of Higher Education,
It is no secret that Nevada has been at the bottom of every "good" list and the top of every "bad" list when it comes to quality of life and education. We can now add weakest economy to our state's list of achievements.
We weren't always like this.
The economic recession seems to have made us forget just how courageous and innovative Nevadans are. Every Nevadan's history includes a decision by a current, or past, family member to leave behind the safety and security of all that was familiar to start a new life here. Many of us are descendants of those brave individuals and many more have made those sacrifices in the past 40 years as first generation Nevadans.
Innovation and the courage to take action is in our blood. Somewhere, somehow, I believe we have lost our way.
As Nevadans, we can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait for others to fix our problems. We must work together to rebuild our business infrastructure so that our economy no longer is at the mercy of one industry or the economy of our sister states.
The time has come to build a new Nevada.
We must work together to build a sense of community where we care about improving the lives of not only our children, but our neighbor's children as well.
In the weeks ahead, I will share what each of our eight institutions is doing to accomplish those goals and get Nevada back on its feet again. Today, let's start with some innovative partnerships at our largest institution of higher education, the College of Southern Nevada.
Since its inception in 1971, the College of Southern Nevada has endeavored to not only educate and train members of the local community, it has actively sought partnerships with local businesses and government agencies to improve its outreach and increase efficiencies.
Improving public safety
One of the areas in which CSN is developing new and improving existing partnerships is the area of public safety, such as the Southern Desert Regional Police Academy, located on the CSN Henderson campus, which provides recruit training for the North Las Vegas and Henderson police departments.
I recently attended the groundbreaking for a fire station the City of Las Vegas is building on the CSN Charleston campus. The brainchild of Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, this $7 million facility will house Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Station 6 and desperately needed general education classroom space for students at the over-crowded campus. There, students will take math, English literature and other courses in the same state-of-the art building as firefighters and EMTs who are providing public safety services for the community. As an added bonus, the fire station/instructional center, which is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) equivalent facility, is located across from Bonanza High School and will provide an educational component to high school students interested in firefighting.
The City of Las Vegas and CSN's unique public-public partnership, which combined the city's need for land with the college's need for classrooms, is one that we have not found duplicated elsewhere in the country. It serves as an example of how two entities working together can combine their resources to fulfill their distinct missions, and do it in a way that reduces overall expenditures by both.
Building a healthy community
CSN has partnered with local hospitals and clinics to offer clinical expertise and on-the-job training for students. As a result, CSN students obtain clinical experience that the college could not provide alone. The hospitals obtain highly skilled graduates they helped train.
The direct outcome is a respiratory therapist or a nurse, who received better training than if that relationship between college and hospital did not exist, and the indirect outcome is better health care in Southern Nevada.
Building an educated community
This fall, hundreds of Clark County School District high school students are obtaining dual high school and college credit through the CSN-CCSD Jumpstart program which is offered at 17 schools throughout the Las Vegas Valley. The partnership began in fall 2006 with 33 students, and has grown to 657 students this semester.
Three community college high schools at CSN, operated jointly by the college and the school district, are among the top schools in the nation.
Not only does the CCSD and CSN partnership save money through shared resources, it also results in an increase of students obtaining college credit before finishing high school, helps students obtain their associate or bachelor's degree in less time, and allows them to graduate and enter the job market faster.
Building a skilled community
CSN has partnerships with construction associations and 15 trade unions to train skilled workers. These partnerships and others are important bridges for CSN students.
CSN also partners with the state Department of Corrections to help prisoners obtain certificates and associate degrees and is working with the state Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation to put dislocated workers back to work with new skills in renewable energy.
Another example is the college's partnership with Harrah's to provide GED preparation training to its employees.
Partnerships like these that strengthen our skilled workforce not only save jobs, they help create new jobs and attract new industries to Nevada and will move us closer to achieving economic diversification.
Building a new Nevada
There is no doubt Nevada is in economic trouble. With the second-worst unemployment rate in the nation, gaming revenues down, and a potential 2011 state deficit exceeding $2 billion, Nevada faces unprecedented times that call for a renovation of government operations and businesses.
The College of Southern Nevada continues to be an innovator in this field and is helping build a better future for our citizens.
Please take a moment to share this message with your friends, family and co-workers. Even better, please take a moment to share your ideas
and join me in building a new Nevada.