NSHE Notes
by Chancellor Dan Klaich
June 20, 2014
Nevada's four community colleges have always played a critical role in our state's education system. Whether it's workforce development, job retraining, an associate degree, or a step toward a four-year degree, these public institutions currently serve more than 55,400 students, over half of NSHE's total student enrollment. 

In Nevada, our community colleges have always been our open access institutions. They are gateways to higher education for many low income and disadvantaged students. As with any gateway, allowing students in is one matter, making sure they achieve their goals is another. Fortunately, 2014 has seen the largest graduating classes on record for the College of Southern Nevada and Western Nevada College.

The governance and funding of our community colleges have recently been in the spotlight as a result of the deliberations of an interim legislative committee. SB391 called for the creation of an interim committee and subcommittees comprised of legislators, regents, state officials, community leaders, higher education leaders, staff, and students to participate in a six month study.

The SB391 Interim Legislative Committee to Study Community Colleges completed its work on June 17 and adopted many extremely positive recommendations for our colleges. Some of the highlights include:
  • A bill draft request for the 2016 legislative session to create a state-supported, need-based grant program that would provide up to $2,000 per semester for full-time students meeting a certain expected family contribution threshold.     
  • A bill draft request to establish a $6 million Workforce Development Rapid Response Investment Fund to assist community colleges and Nevada State College in setting up new programs to address workforce needs.     
  • A bill draft request to establish a $3.5 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Challenge Grant which would award funds to regional consortia to support the development and implementation of STEM programs in postsecondary education.     
  • Call for an increase in advanced placement courses; dual credit courses, including apprenticeships and certificate opportunities; and community college high schools, in order to create additional opportunities for high school students to earn college credits on more campuses.     
  • Creation of a "system within a system" within NSHE for our four community colleges. A vice chancellor position would be created to assist in the coordination, and increase advocacy, for the community colleges. 
Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Page has indicated that we back up these recommendations with the appointment of a Board committee to focus on community college issues. The System will also explore with local stakeholders the establishment of community-based advisory boards for each of the colleges.

I would like to thank everyone who participated in this important process. First, of course, are the members of the interim committee and its subcommittees. In addition, thanks to our community college presidents, faculty and students, K-12 partners, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, The Lincy Institute, Brookings Mountain West , and local government and business leaders throughout the state for their input throughout the committees' deliberations.

As we work toward improving the services our community colleges provide to their respective communities, I look forward to their continued participation and support as we strive to meet Nevada's educational and workforce needs. 
Nevada System of Higher Education