Brian Sandoval, president of the University of Nevada, Reno, gave his first State of the University address on Sept. 28 where he addressed the current climate of the university and what plans are in place for the future.
The State of the University comes after a two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous address was given in 2019 by former president Marc Johnson, who was also present at the event.
Jeffrey Thompson, provost and Vice President of the university, started off the event by acknowledging the Indigenous lands the university is built upon. The tribes Thompson mentioned are the Numu, Wašiw, Newe and Nuwu.
Due to COVID-19, Sandoval originally declined a formal induction as university President. Cathay McAdoo, chair of the Nevada State Board of Education board of regents took to the podium and properly inducted Sandoval as the seventh president of the university.
Sandoval first took the stage whilst clutching his wife Lauralyn Sandoval’s hand to accept his President’s Medallion.
Sandoval stated that while the university is facing some of the most challenging times in its 146 years of existence, the state of the university is strong and rests with our students.
Sandoval announced that he is drafting a strategic five-year plan to help guide the university down a path of success for the years 2022 to 2027. He said that to be able to enact this plan, he must have input from the community.
To provide input on what should happen during this time of strategic planning, he encouraged students, faculty and staff to go to scheduled listening sessions. To provide further insight one can also fill out a True North Form.
Two plans were announced in conjunction with each other, referred to as the 23 by 25 and the 25 by 30. Essentially, this is a milestone set in place for the university to reach 23,000 students by 2025 and 25,000 by 2030—both would be records for the university.
Despite a substantial goal of raising enrollment at the university, Sandoval is aiming to make the university a part of the Association of American Universities.
If this acknowledgment is achieved it will grant the university more research funding and national recognition.
The AAU currently consists of 66 universities recognized for the research conducted on their campuses. Universities like Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University are some who make up the AAU.
Sandoval acknowledges the goal as arduous, and may take many years to achieve, but is an important milestone he wishes to achieve under his presidency.
New Positions and Opportunities
Sandoval announced that in just a few weeks, the university will launch a dual enrollment program partnered with two high schools in the Clark County School District: Cheyenne High School and Centennial High School.
Sandoval said this will allow high school students to enroll in up to 15 credits before their college career begins.
There was no indication as to why these schools were chosen. Sandoval gave his thanks to Jesus Jara, the superintendent of the Clark County School District, for making this possible. This is the first high school partnership of UNR.
At the event, Sandoval introduced two deans to the university. Muge Akpinar-Elci was selected for the newly renamed School of Public Health, and Catherine Cardwell was selected as the new Dean of Libraries.
Vice Provost of Online Learning, a new position within the Provost Offices, was also announced. The interim position for this job is currently filled by Dr. Kal Joshi.
Sandoval has also established a relationship with Renown Health in Reno. Sandoval claims that this will expand the horizons of the university’s medical school students and offer them more opportunities.
Another announcement Sandoval made was the news of the university’s merger with Sierra Nevada University. Sandoval stated SNU’s values match well with UNR’s and he jumped at the opportunity when asked.
The move has been approved by NSHE, but still requires approval by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the Department of Education. Sandoval said he hopes for students to be able to see the effects of this merger by next fall.
University Budget and Finances
There have been recent budget cuts ailing the university which could affect the university’s Carnegie R1 status.
Student credit hours contribute significantly to university funding, but currently those hours are down by 1.5 percent according to Sandoval. In addition, at the 81st Nevada Legislative Session, Nevada’s higher education received a $169 million budget cut.
This has led to only 25 percent of state-funded positions being filled. Sandoval claimed to go about filling state-funded positions with this caution, with maintaining the university’s R1 status as a top priority. Positions not funded by the state are unaffected.
Research expenditures at the university are at a record high, with research bringing in approximately $168 million within the last year. This is an 85 percent increase from 2014.
Currently, 43 percent of the university student body identify themselves as students of color. This is a three percent increase from the last state of the university.
Sandoval stated the university has made plans to make the campus a Hispanic-Serving Institution, with 23 percent of the students of color on campus being students who identify as Hispanic. The university must reach 25 percent of full-time equivalent Hispanic identifying.
The university had a goal to reach that percentage Hispanic identifying students by 2021 but ultimately failed to reach that goal. Once HSI status is reached the university is eligible for funding from Title V of the Higher Education Act.
With the recent issuance of the tuition waiver for Native American students, Sandoval has announced a new position, Director of Native American Relations, to help further serve those students.
According to Sandoval, he hopes these new positions and opportunities is to allow for the indigenous population to grow on campus.
Emerson Drewes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NevadaSagebrush