Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

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Nevada State College president talks expansion, on-campus housing

Nevada State College

Nevada State College

A rendering shows Nevada State College’s planned $62 million, 60,000-square-foot education building, which could see construction beginning in fall 2019.

Nevada State College has experienced a 30 percent growth in enrollment over the last two years to nearly 5,000 students. With that growth comes an opportunity to expand the four-year college’s infrastructure, President Bart Patterson said Tuesday in his annual state of the college address.

The Henderson school sits on 500 acres, most of which hasn’t been developed as officials work to secure funding for new projects.

Patterson laid out the school’s plan for the future in his address.

New facilities

Nevada State College intends to open its first new buildings since 2015 within the next three years, Patterson said.

The initial phase of the school’s on-campus housing development will open in 2019. At full build, the dorms will encompass four buildings, holding up to 330 students. The project is privately financed.

“That’s a really important first step in building student life here on our campus,” Patterson said. “It allows us to also attract a statewide audience and even perhaps start an international students program.”

A planned $62 million, 60,000-square-foot education building could see construction beginning in fall 2019, but funding is reliant upon legislative approval next year. The school must first raise $6 million to go with the $55.9 million contribution from the state. Patterson said the school is nearing that goal.

Additionally, it expects to share a new health and science building at the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus three miles away. Expected to cost $41.5 million, Nevada State College will occupy about 25 percent of the building, geared toward clinical classes, like medical simulation labs. The project also is dependent on legislative approval next year.

Growing a diverse student population

UNLV is touted as the most diverse school in the nation, but Patterson says Nevada State College also has a fair share of diversity in its student population.

About 76 percent of students at the school are female, according to Patterson, which can in part be attributed to the nursing and education programs.

“The family feel (of the school) is very attractive to students. We have a lot of single parents and single moms who come here to go into nursing and education,” he said. “It is across all the degree programs here, where we see more women taking classes than men.”

In its initial years, Nevada State College’s student base was made up of more nontraditional students, ones with families and who were going back to school after time away. Over the past few years, the school has seen a surge of first-time, traditional freshmen enroll.

The school’s enrollment of 4,885 students this fall semester is made up of a majority of Latino students, who account for 39 percent of those enrolled. Last year’s graduating class featured 567 students, a 40 percent increase over the previous year.

Collaborations

The future success of Nevada State College relies largely on outreach beyond its campus, including educational institutions from across the state, Patterson said.

For example, the Teacher Academy program launched last year in partnership with Southeast Career Technical Academy and Mojave High School to allow high school juniors and seniors to earn dual-credit toward a teaching degree. Liberty and East Career and Technical Academy were recently added to the program.

“We’re going to expand that out across the valley,” Patterson said. “We need to attract more students who want to go into teaching. We have a critical teacher shortage and we need to get more students to understand this is still a great pathway for them career wise.”

Looking to build its brand statewide, the school has built partnerships with Western Nevada College in Carson City, Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno on mainly education-related programs and is in talks with Great Basin College — which has campuses in Elko and Pahrump — to start a similar initiative.

Nevada State College also works with the UNLV and UNR medical schools.

“We want to be Nevada State College,” Patterson said. “While our home is here in Henderson, we want to be helping students across the state.”