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August 21, 2014

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NLV mayor makes good on promise, appoints advisory board to CSN Cheyenne campus

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Steve Marcus

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee poses in his office at city hall Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.

Map of College of Southern Nevada Cheyenne Campus

College of Southern Nevada Cheyenne Campus

3200 East Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas

The College of Southern Nevada’s Cheyenne campus has a new advisory board.

But before your eyes glaze over at such bureaucratic news, here’s why this matters:

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee told the Sun two months ago he was “going to take control of that” college campus in North Las Vegas, and now he’s made good on at least part of his vow.

Lee’s move is also a harbinger for a statewide discussion examining whether local boards should fully govern community colleges in Nevada, as they do in most other states. That study gets started in early 2014 and has important implications for how Nevada provides higher education to its residents.

In the case of the Cheyenne campus, CSN President Mike Richards and Lee inked the deal Monday establishing the new, 10-member board of business leaders that will advise the college on how it can better focus on the needs of businesses and workers in North Las Vegas.

“Education is no longer a government challenge in our area,” Lee said. “It is a business problem, and we have got to do something about this.”

Richards said he and Lee have been talking about the idea for about six months as a way to bring the campus closer to the community it serves.

The new board will be the college’s 47th advisory board, but it’ll be unique in the sense that it’s the first board to advise for the needs of a whole campus, Richards said.

“This board will help us better understand our community and give us a conduit to better communicate with our community,” he said.

To that end, Lee also suggested a name change.

“I have a problem with this being CSN Cheyenne,” Lee said, noting that people don’t have a connection to that name or necessarily know where the campus is. “But I know what CSN North Las Vegas is. It’s going to be our flagship.”

CSN is studying whether to rename the Cheyenne campus as “CSN North Las Vegas” and its Charleston campus as “CSN Las Vegas.”

“For the last 40 years, this has been the Cheyenne campus and people are attached to that,” Richards said. “We’re exploring some ways to better project the campus in the community.”

Lee, who took office in July, has made community involvement part of his philosophy of governance.

“I wasn’t going to say ‘that’s a school district problem or a community college problem,’” he said, noting anything within the boundaries of North Las Vegas is his concern.

Lee said he’s going to partner with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and the Clark County School District to bring schoolchildren to tour the Cheyenne campus.

Then, he said, “We’re going to demand that the state Legislature needs to fund it properly.”

Lee said the new board members should help direct policy at the campus.

Some see the board even introducing legislation at the state Legislature in 2015.

They come from businesses in sectors of the economy that Lee is targeting for growth in North Las Vegas, as well as large employers already in the city.

One of those large employers is the Cannery Casino and Hotel, whose general manager, Patrick Hughes, sits on the new board.

“I got a call from the mayor,” Hughes joked as he explained his appointment to the board. “He asked me if I would like to be on it. I said ‘yes,’ and he said ‘good because I already put you on it.’”

The new board will begin meeting next year.

Members are Lee; Richards; Hughes; Dave Hales of Ohana Matters Foundation; Brian McAnallen, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce vice president of government affairs; North Vista Hospital Interim CEO Cathy Story; ViaWest President and CEO Nancy Phillips; Travis Brady, Brady Industries president; First African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor Ralph E. Williamson; Lunas Treasurer Norberto Madrigal; Selena Torres, CSN student government secretary; and Randy Robison, CenturyLink director of legislative affairs.

The Cheyenne campus currently offers culinary arts and automotive programs. It also hosts a center for Cisco Systems to train workers at a Telecommunications and Media Technologies facility. The campus also houses a planetarium. It serves more than 4,000 students per semester.

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