Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2014

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Looking in on: Higher Education:

Rogers calls off fishing trip, but keeps up the discussion

Educators meet at museum, talk of colleges’ self-promotion

For the first time in a decade, Jim Rogers, chancellor of the university system, will not host an annual summer fishing trip for educators and other community leaders.

Rogers, who had surgery for bladder cancer this year, said his health was one reason he decided to skip the excursion, which, in past years, often took place in British Columbia.

But no matter. The trip was really less about fishing than about discussing problems in education, anyway.

So this month, in lieu of the annual outdoor jaunt, Rogers invited a few dozen people, including regents and other education leaders, including some from out of state, to chat about education issues at his “car barn,” his automobile museum in Las Vegas.

A key point of discussion, said Regent Howard Rosenberg, was the need for college systems to do a better job of explaining what they do so that members of the public don’t see them as “the black hole that money is poured into.”

Students and parents, Rosenberg said, need to know more about how higher education is funded, how colleges spend their money and why college degrees are valuable.

•••

The only college in the Moapa Valley is a two-room modular building, a branch of the College of Southern Nevada in Logandale.

Though CSN officials announced they would shut down this outpost in June 2009 in response to budget cuts, the community is not quite ready to let go of its college.

At the request of April Krell, who runs the Logandale branch, Darren Divine, interim vice president of academic affairs at CSN, traveled this month from Las Vegas to see the Logandale learning center.

Divine said he didn’t learn anything new about the Moapa Valley community or its campus from his trip — “I, and the rest of the college administrative team, have a good understanding of just how unique and important this site is, and the integral role it plays in the mission of the college,” he said in an e-mail.

So despite some locals’ hopes, Divine’s visit didn’t persuade CSN officials to reassess their decision to shutter the satellite site.

“What was suggested from CSN was for us to find private corporate sponsors or some sort of private sponsorship,” Krell said.

Advisory boards of towns in the area are scheduled to meet in August to discuss possible ways to save the college, Krell said.

•••

As fall semester approaches, budget cuts have left Nevada State College a bit short-handed. Student services divisions are the most understaffed, according to school officials.

Four of 27 positions in student affairs areas, which include admissions, financial aid and recruitment, are frozen. The school is recruiting for a handful of other empty slots.

As a result, many workers have a hodgepodge of duties. The assistant registrar’s mishmash job, for example, includes supervising admissions staff, updating the registrar’s Web site and evaluating transfer applications — a tedious task that involves checking to see whether incoming students’ classes at other schools meet NSC requirements.

A UNLV graduate student, an intern at NSC, is coordinating orientation for the school.

This week, the college’s 2008-09 catalog, which tells new students what classes they need to take to complete their majors, is finally ready for printing, according to Patricia Ring, registrar and director of admissions.

“I would like to have had it done by the beginning of April,” Ring said.

That would help incoming students plan their schedules.

With the governor asking state agencies to prepare for large budget cuts in the next biennium, NSC’s staffing situation is unlikely to improve.

And that bodes ill for the young campus. A robust student services staff is vital to keeping students in school, Provost Lesley DiMare said.

With more student affairs workers, NSC could offer more campus activities such as concerts and speaker lectures, creating a sense of community on campus.

“That’s one of the things that students say the most — if there were more activities at NSC, they’d become more engaged,” DiMare said. “Research shows that if a student spends more time on campus, they become more fully engaged and do better in their studies and feel a part of the campus environment.”

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