October Chronicle

Greetings to all!  I hope your semester is going well. There are a number of activities I’d like you to know about.      

Institutional Advisory Council (IAC)

Two of the outcomes of the legislative interim study on community colleges were: 1) Creation of a Board of Regents Committee on Community Colleges, and 2) Creation of an Institutional Advisory Council for each community college. The Board of Regents developed a charge and membership guidelines for the IAC. I was asked to submit names for the CSN Council and have provide names and contact information for about 15 individuals as well as two ex officio members, the Chair of the Faculty Senate and the student body government. The Chair of the Board of Regents will make final decisions and appoint the members of the IAC. By the end of the calendar year, all four community colleges will have one of these councils in place and first meetings are expected during the first quarter of 2015.  

A key feature of the IAC is that the chair of each institution’s council will be an ex officio member of the Regents’ Committee on Community Colleges.  I’m sure you’ll hear more about IACs as the new year begins. 

CSN’s nascent North Las Vegas Advisory Board will give way to this new advisory council which will represent all of Southern Nevada and have a more comprehensive charge. I sincerely appreciate each of the community members who served on the North Las Vegas Advisory Board and put their time and energy toward supporting this college. 

Community Relations and Diversity

CSN operates in a diverse community, so last spring we coupled our community relations and diversity functions to help CSN reach out to the greater community. The Office of Community Relations, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, led by Maria Marinch and her staff Community Relations Director Guy Amato, Diversity Initiatives Coordinator Leonardo Benavides and Alumni Relations Coordinator Jamille Walton, has been busy. 

On Friday, September 26, the Office held its second Diversity Day, an all-day training with the Center for Academic and Professional Excellence (CAPE). CSN staff and faculty had the option to select among 12 different sessions to enhance awareness and cultural competence and better serve diverse student populations. The next Diversity Day is being planned for February. A save the date announcement will be issued soon. In addition, the Office is working with Human Resources to infuse continuous training in this area. 

Dr. Luis Ponjuan, keynote at the 2nd annual diversity summit

On Friday, October 3, CSN hosted the 2014 NSHE Southern Nevada Diversity Summit, organized by CSN, UNLV, NSC, DRI and the system office. There were 249 attendees from throughout the community. Dr. Luis Ponjuan from Texas A&M spoke on issues facing Hispanic males in college. In addition, NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich and CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky engaged in an interesting conversation regarding collaborations and pipelines for success between higher education and K-12. The afternoon concluded with a series of diversity-related workshops presented by staff and faculty. 

On Friday, October 10, more than 128 entrepreneurs and business representatives attended the third Supplier Inclusion Workshop and Networking Event at CSN and met purchasing decision makers at and other stakeholders. In collaboration with UNLV and NSC, the CSN Purchasing Department provided information on how to do business with the college. 

The Office’s ongoing collaboration with CSN’s eight diversity-related committees has produced several initiatives and events. The Latino Alliance had a busy calendar in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, including a successful student mixer and a panel on Hispanics in the STEM fields. The Queer Inclusive College Campus (QICC) committee celebrated LGBTQ History Month with mixer at The Center and several movie nights. QICC is also working on developing a Safe Zone program at CSN. 

The Office also continues to strengthen CSN’s presence in the community, collaborating with private and public organizations to positively impact student success. Some examples of the collaborations include participation in the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative addressing issues facing young African American males; the Latino Network Steering Committee, coordinating efforts among stakeholders in the Latino community to identify key areas of concern and to initiate a community based response to those needs; and Southern Nevada Strong, a public-private partnership in regional planning to explore how transportation infrastructure can incite economic development across all areas of the community. In the past month, the Office has had a presence in more than 35 community events and is also advising on grant opportunities with the North Las Vegas Library District and working to bring an Early Childhood Music Education program to West Las Vegas. 

In addition, the Office recently completed assessment of community engagements as the first step in a “Community Mapping” process to identify how and where CSN is represented in the community. 

The Office is also working on developing a strategic plan for the college’s new Alumni Relations Program with the expertise of Ms. Walton. This is expected to launch in the spring to engage, inform and connect CSN alumni. 

Men of Color

National and local data indicate that there is a significant achievement gap between minority males and other populations.  They’re not completing, and drop out at stunning rates.  The loss of men of color is a challenge for CSN that we have been working to ameliorate through the Strategic Enrollment Process and our Achieving the Dream pilot projects but more work is needed.  I’ve asked Larry Mosley, past director of Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, to help with this important issue, in coordination with NSHE. The community college system in North Carolina has a model program that we are adapting for testing. If it works as planned, it will expand to other NSHE institutions.

Budget Prospects for the Next Biennium

As I reported to you earlier, Gov. Sandoval directed that budget requests from state agencies, including NSHE, for the 2015-17 biennium include salaries funded at the base and omit furloughs.  He also requested a merit pay component of 2.5% be included for possible funding. We are hopeful that these items as well as the budget priorities of the Board of Regents remain in his executive budget when it’s presented to the Legislature next year. Salary and benefit issues will be a matter for the Legislature. For CSN’s part, we will advocate and work and hope for a successful legislative session next year, but you should know that Nevada’s revenue picture has not fully rebounded from the recession and that other state priorities will compete for limited resources.  I’ll keep you informed as the session progresses.  

Women’s Volleyball

In the coming months, you will hear more about CSN’s aspirations to host a collegiate women’s volleyball team in addition to our nationally competitive baseball and softball teams. We envision this new team will start next fall and be based at the Cheyenne campus. This will give us a collegiate team sport at Cheyenne for us to rally around and help us demonstrate our commitment to Title IX.

Texas Station will be the site for our annual Holiday Party on Thursday, Dec. 11.  Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for this wonderful celebration.  

Structural Changes

As announced in September, I have made structural changes to the college’s executive administration to help us move new initiatives forward, deal with increased compliance and regulatory demands and community needs. We’ve been far too thin for too long and I urge you to look at the structures of our peer institutions, such as Valencia or Broward, for comparative purposes.

 The new organization chart is posted online on the President’s page, under the ‘Organization’ tab and can be found here.

The Hungry Games Softball Tournament and BBQ is a CSN family event at the Henderson campus.  It’s a time for good food, games for children of all ages, and for socializing.  So that we know how much food to prepare, please RSVP and plan to join us on Saturday, Nov. 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

 Computer Security

While it is crucial that technical staff secure CSN servers and systems, an effective security strategy requires everyone using campus technology to take precautions to help prevent breaches.  Below are some of the best ways to ensure you and the college do not become easy targets. 

Protect your accounts and computer

  • Use a strong password and change it frequently. Do not SHARE your password with anyone.
  • Do not click on links in suspicious emails.  When in doubt delete the email completely, and using your CSN email address you can forward it to spam@csn.edu  Do NOT forward the message to anyone else.
  • Critical security updates
    • Allow your CSN computer to install the critical Windows security updates sent to it from the CSN update server. Try not to postpone these updates as Microsoft will regularly send patches out for new threats that need to be installed on your systems. 
    • If you have a Mac, make sure you are running Apple Software Update to obtain the latest critical security updates.
    • Bring your CSN laptop on campus to have OTS perform a system health check at least twice a year. 
      • A technician will ensure it has current security updates and is receiving the latest antivirus definitions from McAfee enterprise software regularly. 

Physical computer security

  • Lock or logout of your computer every time you walk away from it.  It only takes a couple of seconds for a malicious user to access your computer and compromise it.
  • Do not store or transport sensitive CSN information on laptops or USB drives.  Use the appropriate CSN network drives or systems instead.  This is especially an issue with small USB flash drives as these devices are easily lost.
  • If you access CSN email using a smart phone, create a code to prevent anyone from accessing your phone and email messages. 

Use secure access tools

  • Login to your CSN VPN (Virtual Private Network) account to access college computer or server systems securely.  If you do not have a CSN VPN account you can contact the help desk at www.csn.edu/helpdesk to get one.
  • If you use a personal computer to access CSN information or data, install updated antivirus software and set the computer to automatically use Windows Update or Apple Software update.  Hackers may use your personal computer to gain access to CSN information systems if it is not protected.

For more information on cyber security visit the OTS Newsletter at http://blog.csn.edu/ots/. 

Questions from Faculty and Staff Members: 

“How many students are enrolled this semester?”

Our official census date was Oct. 15. CSN has a 36,579 student headcount this semester, a 0.2% decrease from last fall. As for FTE, CSN has 19,140.90, a 1.3% increase from last fall, indicating more students are taking more credits. We suspected the new payment due date on June 1 and the slow stabilization of the economy nationwide (although it’s hard to see evidence of that here) would diminish the robust enrollment growth that CSN experienced in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Great Recession likely gave CSN an artificial bump in enrollment as people lost their jobs and came back to school for new skills. 

We are not alone in this. Based on enrollment data from this spring, community colleges across the nation are down in enrollment by an average of 1 percent. 

“What are the President’s Forums?”

As you know, we have multiple heritage months throughout the academic year.  We start the academic year with Hispanic Heritage month, LGBTQ in October, followed by Native American Heritage Month and International Education Week in November, Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March and Asian/Pacific Islander Month in April.  In the past, the heritage months have included some wonderful cultural awareness events. In 2012, I added a President’s Forum on Student Success, a targeted discussion of how we can help students of these cohorts succeed.  

Tomorrow, Oct. 23, the President’s Forum on LGBTQ issues will take place at 2:30 p.m. at the Charleston campus. 

The following is an example of the questions we should begin to ask ourselves: 

  • Nationally, we are losing many Hispanic and African-American males.  They are dropping out of education.  What are they doing?  How can we help them stay engaged?
  • In Nevada, Asian students are generally well prepared for higher education, but although we offer scholarships and match financial aid, these students are leaving the state in large numbers.  How can we help them stay, get their education here and contribute to Nevada?
  • Urban and rural Native Americans have unique learning challenges.  How can we help them more effectively?
  • Women, particularly single mothers, have unique needs.  Can we package our financial aid to better help them attend full-time or create more flexible course schedules that meet their needs? 

The idea is to discuss internally, among our faculty and staff, ways we can help students be more successful.  The format is straight forward:  a review of our data by the IR staff followed by a panel discussion and interaction with the audience. I hope you will participate in each of these. 

“How can we have input into facilities decisions on the campuses?”

Sherri Payne, Associate Vice President for Facilities, supports a campus improvement committee for each campus.  Sherri meets with committee representatives to share improvement and renovation plans and invite suggestions from faculty and staff who work at the respective campus.  Please contact her office for more details. 

“What is the Performance Pool?”

Following the 2013 legislative session, the state funding formula for Nevada’s public colleges and universities changed. We are now largely funded based on student course completion. But each year we have to earn a growing percentage of our state funding by meeting certain benchmarks established by the state that are related to graduation and transfer rates. Last year, this comprised 5% of our budget and next year it will be 10%, increasing each year until 20% of our budget is funded this way. I would also note that last year, CSN exceeded its benchmarks by 108%. Many public colleges around the country are now being funded this way. 

At the Board of Regents’ special committee meeting today, Chair Kevin Page announced the creation of a special committee to review the performance pool metrics going forward. 

Best regards to all. 

–Mike Richards

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