Throughout his “State of the University” address on Thursday, President Brian Sandoval highlighted how the accomplishments and accomplishments of students, faculty, and staff over the past year have compellingly demonstrated the value of the University for the State.
During his 33-minute speech in the Joe Crowley Student Union’s Glick Ballroom, Sandoval declared the University’s excellence in all areas of its institutional mission – as well as what he called the “sacrifices and the hard work of the people at the University over the past two years”. more years” — will be at the forefront of the University’s budget demands when the Nevada State Legislature convenes in February.
Chief among the demands will be the restoration of the University’s budget to pre-pandemic levels; a cost-of-living adjustment for the coming biennium for faculty and staff; a capital improvement application for funding a new life sciences building; increased state funding for graduate student scholarships.
“We are a growing university,” Sandoval said. “We increase academic opportunity, integrate into our communities, and provide infrastructure to better serve our faculty, staff, and students. We want the road to success to lead to the University of Nevada, Reno.
Sandoval also acknowledged that with all that is being asked of the people of the University, it was imperative that, “Knowing that our people make the difference, I really want to point out the obvious – we cannot afford to lose good people, or miss out on opportunities to recruit the best and brightest to our campus, it’s as simple as that.
Sandoval said the past year has been significant and “historic” progress has been made in a number of key areas.
He noted that the ongoing Mathewson University Gateway Project continues to achieve significant milestones. He said construction of the new 814-space Gateway parking complex at the south end of campus is nearing completion, and recent news of a new 120,000-square-foot commercial building, to be built at the south end. of the campus not far from the future “University Way”, will give the campus a new “gateway” and will prove to be “a game-changer for the University and the community”.
The new commercial building and further gateway development, announced by the University on September 13, is part of a pre-development public-private partnership the University has entered into with Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate. The proposed commercial building would include the College of Business, a hospitality/conference venue, and create a physical link between the university and downtown Reno.
“The 120,000 square foot College of Business Building will serve faculty, staff, students and the community with unparalleled state-of-the-art facilities,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval also praised the efforts of the University and the former University of Sierra Nevada at Incline Village to complete what he called “one of the most ambitious and complex undertakings our university has ever undertaken.” with the creation of what is now known as the University of Nevada. , Reno to Lake Tahoe.
The process began a little over a year ago, with the transfer of the SNU to the University. It included strict oversight from federal and state educational regulators, along with the collaboration and cooperation of SNU students, faculty, and staff as well as the SNU Board of Trustees and endorsement and support of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents and the University Foundation.
The effort was worth it, Sandoval said of welcoming “several hundred” students, faculty and staff to the Wolf Pack family.
“We are deeply grateful to include the Wayne Prim campus in Lake Tahoe as part of the University of Nevada, Reno,” Sandoval said. “The new campus will provide our students and faculty with one of the most beautiful, inspiring and important learning environments in higher education today.
“The location will accelerate our university’s leadership position in the areas of sustainability and environmental science.”
Sandoval also hailed the University’s concurrent enrollment initiative as an essential and strategic element in the ongoing effort to increase enrollment at the University. He said university enrollment was “slightly” down from a year ago – 20,945 this fall from 21,034 a year ago.
Of the 20,945 total enrollment at the University, Sandoval said “19,582 are at our Reno campus, with 72% of our students coming from Nevada.”
Although the University has had its most diverse freshman class ever, with 49.1% of freshmen this year identifying as students of color – and, notably, that the number of International students on campus are starting to rise again after plummeting during the pandemic – Sandoval said the University must “seize every opportunity possible to bring students to our campus”.
The concurrent enrollment initiative, he said, has been a way for the University to “reach out to the next generation of Nevada students in a new and inspiring way.”
“Our concurrent enrollment initiative, which began last year with two UNR Academy pilot programs at Centennial and Cheyenne High Schools in Las Vegas, enrolled 700 students,” Sandoval said. “These academies have been so successful that, at the invitation of the Clark County School District, we have added four more high schools and two charter schools.”
Sandoval said he looks forward to future discussions that explore “these and other initiatives” with new Washoe School District Superintendent Susan Enfield, who was in the audience Thursday.
Sandoval said that even with notable successes for students, faculty and staff, as well as the second-largest fundraising year in the past 15 years by the University Advancement Team and a year a record $180 million in research, the University’s fiscal year 2023 budget was still facing a 12% reduction in the general fund budget.
The total reduction once stood at $24.8 million, but was reduced to $16.8 million with the help of federal relief funds. The figure also includes an enrollment and tuition shortfall due to reduced enrollment, as well as a $2.7 million performance pay merit award for faculty and professionals at the administration.
“While there is no doubt in everyone’s mind that this award of merit for our hardworking teaching and administrative staff was long overdue, there is the budgetary reality that no additional funds have been earmarked for that and the existing dollars had to be reallocated,” Sandoval said. . “The result was the permanent elimination of 26 budgeted but vacant posts.
“This institution has already withstood budgetary pressures, and we will persevere in meeting this challenge as well. Our next step will be in partnership with the governor and the legislature when they meet in session next February.
Other highlights of the address include:
Collaborative alliance with Great Basin College in Elko: “I really have to emphasize that this is a collaborative alliance…an ongoing sharing of key resources and capabilities in areas such as human resources, legal advice and police departments,” Sandoval said. “GBC is central to Elko and other rural Nevada communities, and always will be. … What makes this alliance so exciting is how it will strengthen our ability to create even more partnership opportunities between our two institutions. We already do this in the form of the planned mining center of excellence at GBC, which is a collaboration between GBC and our internationally renowned Mackay School of Mines.
Campus Infrastructure Growth and Improvements: Sandoval congratulated Governor Steve Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on their approval of a $75 million appropriation for the construction of a new lab Nevada State Public Health on campus. The construction of the new facility will create new opportunities not only for the University’s research enterprise, but will also mean that new spaces will be available for existing university professors. “This high-tech research facility will be one of the best in the country and will provide even more research opportunities for our schools of medicine and public health,” Sandoval said. An additional $3 million will be used to remodel the former state public health laboratory, for eventual use by the School of Public Health. Work on the old facilities building, located between the Mackay School of Mines and the Ansari Commercial Building, is expected to be completed this summer. When complete, Sandoval said, the facilities building will house the School of Social Work and “give its faculty a new home in the heart of campus.”
Strategic Plan Completed: Sandoval praised the work of a number of groups who came together to synthesize what he called “the ideas of an entire campus” in the form of the Strategic plan, “Wolf Pack Rising”, which was approved by the Board of Regents in June. “Creating our strategic plan helps us take a lucid look at our institutional strengths,” Sandoval said. “It identifies areas of potential growth as we address the challenges of our time and the opportunities for the future. This will help us, in the future, to direct our resources and our planning efforts towards the realization of an ambitious future.
Sandoval said that even with a number of challenges facing the University for the coming year, he was confident that the people of the University would rise up to meet them.
“We are the Wolf Pack family,” he said, “and all of this work is still far from done. … I am eternally optimistic that we will continue to emerge from these difficult days stronger and better than ever. It’s part of our heritage, it’s part of the exciting story we have yet to write.