NSHE Notes
by Chancellor Dan Klaich

May 31, 2016

For the last seven years, I have had the honor of serving as Chancellor of the higher education system here in my native state. This position has provided me the opportunity to give back to the state and to our public education institutions that have done so much for me and my family. Together, we have accomplished a great deal over these years.

Importantly, we led higher education through the Great Recession. During those years when higher education saw its state budget cut by over 30%, we focused on preserving our core missions of teaching, research, workforce development, and service. We emerged as a leaner, narrower, but stronger system. We've been doing more with less.

During this time, higher education funding moved to a performance and completion model. Higher education funding is now transparent, equitable, and easy to understand. The funding formula recognizes the different missions of our colleges and universities and is aligned with our statewide economic development plan.

The results are being seen throughout the System with higher graduation and retention numbers. Institutional missions are aligned with the state economic development plan, not only through our funding formula, but also through a Knowledge Fund for our research institutions and the Workforce Innovations for a New Nevada fund for our colleges. Higher education is represented on the Board of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, and the Chancellor is now a member of the Governor's cabinet.

We have re-emphasized the critical importance of our community colleges in creating a skilled workforce for the New Nevada. While not everyone needs a four-year or advanced degree, we now recognize the workforce training of our colleges and we count skills certificates in our key performance metrics. The modernized governance structure of our colleges brings those institutions closer to the communities they serve. The newly created Institutional Advisory Committees link our colleges to their stakeholders in the communities. We have instituted system leadership for community colleges, leading to greater collaboration among our colleges and with business partners. These efforts have been aided by grants that bring education, business, and community partners to advance critical state needs.

Diversity efforts have also come to the forefront of higher education. While the enrollment gap between white and non-white students has been eliminated, we have further work to do with the achievement gap. We have our first Hispanic Serving Institution, with others emerging. Our diverse communities have helped to inform our policies throughout the System through the creation of the Chancellor's Diversity Roundtable. We sponsor diversity summits in both northern and southern Nevada on an annual basis, as just one example of NSHE's strong commitment to diversity.

We understand that education is not measured in years, but must be an uninterrupted and seamless continuum. Partnerships with K-12 have never been stronger. Led by our community colleges, we are providing more opportunities than ever before for students to earn college credit while in high school with innovative programs like Jump Start and expanded dual enrollment opportunities.

We have researched the critical link between access, affordability, and student success. Data has clearly demonstrated the link between full time enrollment and completion. Our 15 to Finish campaign is changing the culture of higher education, with more students taking more courses, leading to greater levels of retention and graduation. Incorporating national best practices to revise remedial math and English education is also showing promising results in student success. Finally, the state created and funded the first need-based financial aid program, the Silver State Opportunity Grant program, which provides financial support to low-income students assisting them in achieving their college goals.

We have never been more transparent in governance and reporting. Major initiatives and performance metrics are posted online. Data is now being collected that links NSHE to public K-12 education and the workforce through our new statewide longitudinal data system, NPWR. Additional efforts are linking our colleges to the workforce, through the revolutionary Burning Glassİ technology, which allows us to match workers and their skills with workforce needs.

A New Nevada must be a healthy Nevada and the Nevada System of Higher Education must do its part in providing a skilled healthcare workforce. While these efforts span the full spectrum of healthcare professions, we have taken a major step forward with the creation of an allopathic school of medicine at UNLV. This school, long overdue, will be a major source of not only doctors for our region, but also the core of an academic health center spanning the healthcare needs of our community. While the University of Nevada School of Medicine largely moves out of Las Vegas, it has created a new powerful healthcare partnership with Renown Health that will transform healthcare in northern Nevada.

Importantly, the Board of Regents continues to lead efforts to change the culture of higher education. Intra-institutional collaboration is at an all-time high, benefiting our students and the state. We have instilled a culture of efficiency and accountability, trying to do everything we can to invest the most we can in the core missions of the institutions and keeping our administration as lean as possible. Our campuses now look not only to greater internal efficiencies, but also to shared services and back office consolidation.

There is a tremendous amount of work that remains to be done. We have a skills gap that must be closed if we are to answer the call of Governor Sandoval to assist him in building the New Nevada. We have an enormous population of students and potential students for whom higher education is not affordable, too many of whom are from underrepresented classes. The promise and opportunity of higher education must be available to all Nevadans, rich or poor, urban or rural, and without regard to race.

We must continue to strive to make our institutions the first choice for every Nevadan.

These are the challenges that remain, and the opportunities that we have to continue serving Nevada.

I have been privileged to serve the state, and play a small part in improving public higher education in Nevada. I leave with pride in a job well done and a firm belief that more great work will be done by those who continue to serve and those who will follow me.

Sincerely,