Nevada State College Road Extension Proposal

Nevada State College Road Extension Proposal

Christopher DeVargas

A look at the exterior of Nevada State College campus on Paradise Hills Drive in Henderson, Monday Aug. 29, 2022.

Nevada State College is once again asking the Board of Regents to change its name to Nevada State University.

A previous request brought to the board in September and December wasn’t approved over concerns that the renamed school could have to adhere to admission, tuition and faculty salary standards of the state’s top-tier universities, UNLV and UNR.

This time around, Nevada State is asking regents on Friday to not only OK the name change but set up a separate tier that would place it between those research institutions and community colleges.

DeRionne Pollard, president of Nevada State College

DeRionne Pollard, president of Nevada State College

“This intent for this second tier is not to be in competition with the tier one institutions or the community colleges,” said DeRionne Pollard, NSC’s president. “It is to practice a special place for the state college — or in this case, hopefully, the state university — to have a very distinctive mission that suggests we have a different mission as it relates to serving the residents of Nevada.”

The institutions in each tier are categorized based on certain criteria, like admission standards, funding and qualifications for promotion or tenure of professors. Specific limitations would also be placed on the institutions based on their tier, Pollard said.

For example, a tier one school is able to offer students doctoral degrees, while schools in the second tier that cannot.

An official tier system for Nevada’s universities and colleges would also help Nevada State College differentiate itself from the College of Southern Nevada, Pollard said. The two institutions often get confused, she said.

Many states on the West Coast already have the triple-tier system and use the term “university” for institutions that award four-year degrees, which Pollard says is part of the reason she’s fighting for these changes.

Her predecessor, Bart Patterson, initially set in motion the plan to change Nevada State College to Nevada State University. Pollard said she didn’t want to touch on the issue when she got into office in August 2021, but the response from students eager to see a name change was all the support she needed to carry on the work.

“Our students (have) spoken most eloquently and passionately about this,” Pollard said. “They know that they want to make the case that this is about their credential and the value to that credential in the city and state that they live in.”

When Lauren Porter, the college’s student body president in 2021-22, went looking for nursing jobs in Utah after graduation, she said she spent the first half of a job interview explaining to her potential employer that she had earned a baccalaureate degree from Nevada State College, because most people assume “colleges” only administer associate degrees.

Pollard believes a name change and official tier classification would help students like Porter in the job field and allow them to become more competitive with graduates from UNLV despite the two institutions awarding the same four-year degrees.

“Seventy percent of our students are students of color, 50% of our students or more are first generation, (and) they need a credential that will give them the same marketplace value in the workspace that they’re going into as students are in different institutions,” Pollard said.

Since the proposal was initially brought to regents in September, Pollard has worked with NSHE Acting Chancellor Dale Erquiaga, who raised concerns about the switch.

Erquiaga said the change from “college” to “university” could create complications under the Nevada System of Higher Education’s code, which is used to determine admission requirements, tuition and faculty salaries based on the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education Institutions.

Pollard went to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities — the organization that accredits higher education institutions in states such as Nevada, Oregon and Utah — to discuss these accreditation concerns.

She said the accrediting body told her that regents must first approve the name change before the commission can step in.

But even then, there is no formal definition of the university by the commission, so Nevada State College would have to instead undergo a review and approval process, officials with the commission said.

Pollard said she had worked with the acting NSHE chancellor on changes to the handbook procedures and guidelines manual.

These changes would hopefully be supported by the board and ensure that these rules are applied only to research institutions like UNLV and not to Nevada State College, which is referred to as a teaching university in the higher education field.

“We do not anticipate any major complications here, only a confirmation of what we have been doing, which is growing as an institution to deliver both undergraduate and graduate education,” Pollard said at the November Board of Regents meeting.

Regent Jason Geddes, who supported the renaming, pointed out in November that the formula for deciding faculty salaries may become muddled as a result of the name change. But Pollard emphasized that the issue of increasing salaries is a national one that shouldn’t impede the renaming process.

Pollard remains hopeful that all the work she and her team have done will achieve success. The name change would be effective July 1, and Nevada State College officials believe it will increase enrollment by 5.2% of first-time students in the initial five years.

“This is something I feel fairly passionate about,” Pollard said. “(And) I remain hopeful that, as a board, they will see the value of what we are doing and that they will be as innovative and courageous as they say they want to be and make Nevada State (College the) Nevada State University.”

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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