Dear Friend of Higher Education:
After highly successful and public evaluations, three of our community college presidents had their contracts renewed at the June Board of Regents meeting. We are fortunate to have our colleges led by such talented, effective and accomplished presidents and I wanted to share some highlights of their accomplishments below.
President Carol Lucey
Western Nevada College
President Lucey has made an indelible impact on the college since her arrival in 1999. During her stewardship, WNC has matured and expanded in enrollment, academic programs, and the creation of student life initiatives that have significantly enhanced the campus environment.
President Lucey has been exceptionally successful as Western Nevada's president, guiding the college with foresight and thoughtfulness. Through her vision, the college has developed programs in technologies and sciences, responded to community needs in creating its first bachelor of technology degree, opened the Jack C. Davis Observatory, and obtained prestigious National Science Foundation student scholarships in science, math and technologies.
At the same time, Dr. Lucey has been passionate about enhancing campus life, encouraging the development of a new student center and library, intercollegiate athletics, expanded student activities, an active student association, and clubs for adult returning students, military veterans, Latino and Native American students.
Her vision of learning communities on campus took root, leading to higher academic achievement in all sectors of the college. President Lucey encouraged the college to reach out to many under-served populations who can benefit from higher education, provided the resources for WNC to be in every area high school, and supported quality of life initiatives and sustainability.
Last year, she led the college through a highly successful re-accreditation process. And this year, she witnessed the graduation of a record number of successful students.
In recent years, through the worst economic times the college has ever seen, President Lucey has been forward thinking and collaborative. Looking ahead, she is keenly focused on the college becoming more entrepreneurial, sharply concentrating on student success, and developing ways to graduate more students with fewer resources.
Dr. Lucey is in discussions with school districts and community leaders throughout Western's 18,000-mile service area, creating partnerships that would allow rural residents continued access to higher education in the wake of the budget cuts. She is speaking with entrepreneurs in Douglas County about a possible incubator partnership at the Douglas Campus. She is working with manufacturers in programs to enhance the skills of their workforce.
Her plan: to be an important part of the solution, helping to rebuild Nevada's economy, and putting Nevadans back to work.
President Michael Richards
College of Southern Nevada
President Richards is credited with strengthening CSN during the past three challenging years of unprecedented enrollment growth and budget cuts. During the evaluation process and the consultants' interviews with more than 100 individuals, it was clear Dr. Richards has the confidence of the CSN community and a history of making difficult decisions with broad-based input.
Dr. Richards has championed CSN, promoting the college to local, state and national audiences. As head of one of the top 10 largest community colleges in the nation, he has brought national attention to CSN. He took part in the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. In addition, his voice has led CSN to be featured in The Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today and other prominent publications as a place where victims of this state's unforgiving recession can find hope and re-tool their skills.
Dr. Richards has successfully communicated CSN's story to state lawmakers, who for the first time recognized CSN's historical funding inequity in 2009 and again in 2011. Although the state has a long way to go to fund CSN at the level of its peer institutions, the allocation of several million dollars to address this inequity is a substantial achievement during the Great Recession.
Locally, he has maximized CSN's resources by forming unique partnerships with organizations, public agencies and businesses. For instance, the City of Las Vegas Fire Station 6/CSN Instructional Center is the first municipal fire station and postsecondary classroom facility to be located on a college campus in the nation and provides for a number of collaborative training opportunities. Under his leadership, the institution secured an $8.2 million health sciences gift from the Engelstad Family Foundation, the largest donation in the college's history.
Internally, Dr. Richards has provided much needed leadership stability at the college, which has had eight different presidents since the year 2000. He is now the longest serving president this century. Providing operational continuity has helped the institution come together as well as build a repository of policies and procedures and focus on the future.
The college spent two years developing the CSN Strategic Plan 2010-17, which was approved by the Board of Regents in fall 2010. The plan, which has college-wide support, focuses on quality, access and diversity and bolsters statewide goals to diversify and strengthen our economy, increase the number of Nevadans with a college education and eliminate achievement gaps.
Most importantly, he has the confidence of the community because in spite of budget cut after budget cut, Dr. Richards has worked to protect CSN's access mission and enhance the quality of the institution. CSN is producing a skilled and educated workforce through bold initiatives such as Project Graduate, in which the college is reaching out to more than 4,000 students and former students on the cusp of graduating to help them complete their degrees. Dr. Richards is passionate about the quality of education in this community and is getting results.
Dr. Maria C. Sheehan
Truckee Meadows Community College
President Sheehan became president of Truckee Meadows Community College in 2008. Since this time, she has worked to implement a variety of initiatives to build academic programs and support student success.
Under her leadership the college initiated the Success First and Summer Bridge programs. These programs specialize in helping students who are the first in their families to earn a higher education degree. Students receive support from counseling, tutoring, financial aid and other services to achieve graduation and/or transfer success. The success rate for these programs has been phenomenal: Of the Summer Bridge students, 90 percent were enrolled in their second semester after completing the bridge program.
To continue to build TMCC as a jobs college, an institution that actively develops programs to support the economic growth of the region, Dr. Sheehan helped TMCC become a lead institution for Nevada Department of Training and Rehabilitation's (NV DETR) weatherization training program.
Dr. Sheehan has established solid benchmarks for success. One of these is the college graduation rate. Since arriving at TMCC and promoting new support programs, the college's graduation rate has increased significantly. In the last three years, TMCC's graduation rate went from 11 percent to 17 percent. Dr. Sheehan has set a goal for TMCC to surpass the national average graduation rate for community colleges by 2013. In addition, the representation of ethnic minorities has increased from 25 percent to 32 percent, and the persistence rate of new degree-seeking students (fall to spring) increased from 65 percent in 2008-2009 to 76 percent in 2010-2011.
Dr. Sheehan has also worked closely with other educational institutions in the community, including collaboration between TMCC, the Washoe County School District and the University of Nevada, Reno, to achieve better student outcomes. One outcome is that the college has increased the capture rate of students from the Washoe County School District from 24 percent to 27 percent.
Working with the vice president of academic affairs and student services, the college created and implemented a math skills lab which addresses remediation to help students develop the mathematical foundation necessary to succeed in college-level mathematics courses. The Skills Center also provides training in basic mathematics skills for students taking occupational courses and others who want to develop these skills for other purposes. The center started in fall 2010 with a few students and the college expects it will hit its maximum service number of 500 this fall. Best of all, the Skills Center project is self-supporting.
Dr. Sheehan has guided the college through a storm of budget reductions in the last two legislative sessions. Part of this process was not only managing cuts passed down as part of the state budget, but also seeking new sources of revenue to support college programs and services. She has supported the initiation of a major gifts campaign through the TMCC Foundation. She has dedicated a significant amount of time to meeting with community leaders to ensure the college is meeting the needs of the community. Dr. Sheehan also established a grants office that in two years has generated more than $5 million for projects supporting college programs and services.