Dear Friend of Higher Education,
Educating people is a commitment.
Education changes lives and enriches futures. It breeds success and shapes the world around us. In my heart, I am an educator. That is why I took this job, and I can promise that this is why the faculty and staff of the Nevada System of Higher Education come to work every day. We believe that what we do improves the quality of life for our students and for Nevada and impacts our world in profound ways. If we didn't, this would just be a job.
The key is that education is not simply about teaching. It is about research programs that contribute to the economic engine of our state and shape career paths for our students, which lead to successful careers. It is about contributing to our communities and partnering on projects that make a difference in peoples' lives beyond the classroom walls. It is about creating partnerships that will help to build a new Nevada.
UNLV recently announced two such partnerships that will change the future, not just for the campus, but for the region and our state. The Lincy Institute at UNLV and the Brookings Mountain West Initiative are profound commitments to education, and they will help reinvent Nevada.
The newly created Lincy Institute will serve as a catalyst for the human capital needs of Nevada-in education, health care and social services-by bringing together nonprofit and nongovernmental agencies to collaborate on larger grants and joint programs.
What exactly does this mean?
Well, Nevada ranks last in federal grants per capita. Our state does not do a great job in bringing in federal dollars. The Lincy Institute plans to address this issue directly by supporting and linking Nevada's nonprofit organizations and agencies in the pursuit of federal funding.
In addition, The Lincy Institute will serve as the center for data collection and analysis that can be used to support nonprofits as they go forward with funding requests. Since UNLV is the source of much of this data and a partner in the collection of much more data, it makes sense. The new institute will provide practical research into the human capital systems that are important to every Nevadan, including health care, social services and education.
Then there is the new Brookings Mountain West Initiative. The Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. is a think tank founded in 1916, which contributed to the formation of the United Nations and shaped the Marshall Plan. A few weeks ago, they announced a partnership with UNLV that will serve as the hub for research and a facilitator for solutions to the critical challenges facing Nevada and other states.
In 2008, The Brookings Institution released a report called "Mountain Megas: America's Newest Metropolitan Places and a Federal Partnership to Help Them Prosper." Nevada is one of five states that make up the southern Intermountain West or "mountain megas" with the other four states being Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. These states have the fastest population growth and economic and demographic transitions in the country. In this report, The Brookings Institution describes the critical needs of the "mountain megas," including infrastructure, human capital, and the need for enhanced research and development to build diversified and sustainable economies.
And, while other regions have received tremendous investment of federal funding, this region has yet to realize its full developmental potential. The new initiative will conduct public policy research and build an agenda for federal reforms in key infrastructure areas of transportation, water, education, immigration, health care and energy.
While learning from today's problems (as outlined in the "mountain megas" report), the ultimate goal is to prepare the region for tomorrow. Together, alongside existing efforts both at UNLV and in the community, The Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West will be shaping Nevada's future by directly addressing the infrastructure, human capital, and research and development needs of the region.
Education is a commitment-a commitment to the betterment of individuals and a promise to help Nevada thrive. Please join me in watching for the incredible successes that will result from the efforts of these two exciting initiatives at UNLV as they help to build a new Nevada.