by Chancellor Dan Klaich
|Contrary to the opinions of some, we are not alone. Nevada is not an island. |
Although we have a unique history and, some may argue, culture, we face many of the same issues as other states and higher education institutions. Providing a quality, and affordable, education to rural communities is one challenge we share with much of the country.
According to the 2010 Carnegie Basic Classification, 64 percent of all public two-year colleges serve rural communities and these institutions serve nearly 37 percent of all community college enrollments in the United States.
There are considerable hurdles to overcome in keeping our rural communities connected with the rapidly changing global arena. In that regard, our rural community colleges are becoming an even more important guiding force in helping their service areas prepare for the 21st century's economic, technological and societal changes.
To learn more about how others are tackling these issues, Great Basin College and Western Nevada College recently participated in a two-day conference as part of their ongoing work with the Rural Community College Alliance - the organization advocates on behalf of America's rural community and tribal colleges. This year's national conference was hosted by Western Nevada College.
Approximately 140 educators representing 100 rural colleges were in attendance to share ideas, initiatives and collaborations. WNC gave a presentation highlighting their innovative joint shared services initiative with GBC titled, "Working as a Team across 96,000 Square Miles: Shared Services in Institutional Research and Effectiveness." Additionally, GBC made a presentation describing how through five campus locations and nineteen remote sites they provide postsecondary educational opportunities to Nevada's ten most rural counties using a combination of online, interactive video and traditional delivery modes. These rural counties, containing a population of less than two people per square mile, are among the most sparsely populated in the nation.
Other highlights included:
In the Nevada System of Higher Education, we take our obligation to serve every Nevadan who seeks post-secondary education very seriously, regardless of where they happen to live in our great state. Conferences like these play a significant part in the ongoing process of improving our ability to meet that responsibility. Serving one of the nation's most rural areas, WNC and GBC strive to create, enrich and support economically sustainable and culturally diverse communities. This shared passion fuels the work of our rural colleges as they help us build a New Nevada.
- A U.S. Department of Agriculture presentation on rural economic development grants that the attendees can apply to receive and the announcement of a $400,000 grant to the Rural Community College Association for academic programs fostering economic growth for rural community colleges.
- A presentation by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, announcing an outreach program for rural students to compete for scholarships to complete their bachelor degree.
- Information on how states are responding to the President's College Promise initiative.
- Information on what rural colleges are doing to improve access and affordability in their regions while responding to the renewed focus on job training in a recovering economy.