Greetings! This October Chronicle includes important information on our recent accreditation visit, our Title V grant proposal, our 2017 legislative budget proposal and more.
The accreditation process of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is a seven-year process of planning and reporting. This month, CSN had its seventh-year site visit, during which a team of evaluators examined CSN’s direction, goals, objectives and public accountability. This process requires considerable attention to details, lots of data, precise answers, and correlation of all of CSN’s operations. Our accreditation lead has been Dr. Hyla Winters who with Michelle Word and Debbie Beyer prepared the reports and exhibits and provided logistics support. Our strategic planning guru—writer, compiler, editor, aggregator, and motivator—has been Dr. Joan McGee. Sherri Payne led the campus appearance and maintenance team. Orbiting these key folks, a number faculty and staff tirelessly and selflessly moved accreditation forward. They have done an awesome job, as the outcome of the recent accreditation team visit attests.
CSN was commended for its 1.) Model of shared governance—a sustaining system of collaboration; 2.) Extensive diversity program and the value placed on diversity; 3.) Data-driven commitment to student success and the national completion agenda; 4.) Investment in academic advising and student support at all three campuses; 5.) Library staff and operations at all three campuses; 6.) Extensive support for information technology services and high level of customer service; and 7.) Commitment to emergency preparedness—all of its planning and training. These commendations are the core of CSN! I’m so very proud of you all for these significant successes!
CSN also received four recommendations, including the following: 1.) That CSN consistently document and use assessments to improve achievement of student learning outcomes; 2.) That CSN implement an effective, regular system to evaluate all programs and services and use those to inform planning, decision-making and allocating resources and capacity; 3.)That CSN integrate its Strategic Plan, Academic Master Plan, Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, Campus Master Plan, Technology Plan and financial planning process to ensure that the mission, core themes and objectives are driving institutional decision-making; and 4.) That the Nevada System of Higher Education establish a process to regularly evaluate its performance to ensure its duties and responsibilities are fulfilled in an effective and efficient manner.
Our current Strategic Plan 2010-17 is almost at the end of its intended lifespan and we are preparing to launch a new strategic planning process this fall and engage more faculty and staff in the preparatory work for the next accreditation cycle. We’ll pay particular attention to the accreditation team’s recommendations, such as 1) documenting and using assessments, 2) integrating planning at all levels with resource allocation, and 3) implementing a system to evaluate programs and services for goal achievement. As opportunities arise, I hope you will join us in the planning process and in our continuing efforts to improve CSN.
Title V Hispanic Serving Institutions Proposal
The U.S. Department of Education notified CSN at the end of September that we did not receive a Title V, Hispanic Serving Institutions grant. We competed with more than 400 HSIs around the country and we knew that it would be extremely competitive. That said, we believe our Avancé project to create an accelerated programming office and enhanced professional development opportunities was a good fit for CSN. This is a concept that developed out of the CSN HSI Task Force and faculty and staff input. While we are disappointed, we learned a lot during this process and are in the planning stages to redouble our efforts for the FY 2016 award process next summer.
Hispanic Heritage Month
I want to thank all of the faculty, staff and students, particularly the CSN Latino Alliance, led by chairwoman Leticia Wells, who planned events and participated in helping CSN’s community celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15). One of this year’s activities included a service day clean-up of Sunrise Trailhead in partnership with Get Outdoors Nevada and CSN Serves. The clean-up event included 47 volunteers that collected over 140 bags of broken glass, trash, and more glass.
The month included a number of cultural celebrations, including CSN departments and clubs providing information from the International Center, Re-entry program, Recruitment and Phi Theta Kappa. Hispanic Heritage Month goes back to 1968, beginning each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico (September 16), Chile (September 18) and Belize (September 21) also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Clark County Commission also recognized several leaders in the local Hispanic community, including CSN’s Director of Government Affairs and Communications Michael Flores.
CSN Budget Request
Later this month, I will lead a team to present CSN’s budget priorities to the Nevada System of Higher Education for consideration. It is my hope that the Board of Regents and system office will work with the Legislature to support a concerted approach to salary increases, allowing the institutions to provide a share of increases in a compact that treats all state employees equally. For instance, CSN might provide 10 percent of a salary increase for professional and classified staff and the state would provide the remaining 90 percent.
Other operational needs we are highlighting for the Board of Regents to consider:
- A last-dollar scholarship program to create universal access to community college for Nevada’s responsible high school students, similar to the various “Promise” proposals that are popping up around the nation;
- A workforce development fund;
- Formula adjustments to provide increased funding for developmental education and career and technical education-related credits completed;
- Funding for a community college-based prison education program;
- A budget enhancement to offset tuition and fee reductions from enrollment loss (similar to the UNLV Law School funding received this past session); and
- Funding for a college-readiness bridge program.
The funding backfill for enrollment loss and changes to the funding formula would help CSN fund needed positions for counselors, advisors and financial aid staff, as well as selected faculty positions in high-demand areas and technology fixes for Integrate.
As for capital projects, I plan to highlight the following needs at CSN:
- A Northwest campus building to begin a STEM campus for CSN and CCSD to operate an expansion of the successful community college high school program. Right now our three campus programs are at capacity with approximately 400 high school juniors and seniors;
- Construction of a science/health-related facility at the Henderson campus to help provide the workforce for a growing healthcare industry in Henderson in partnership with our colleagues at Nevada State;
- Authorization to use non-appropriated funds to construct three student unions on each main campus; and
- Deferred maintenance of about $135 million in documented needs.
Every three years, CSN conducts a work climate survey of our employees, including student workers and part-time faculty/staff. Starting this week, researchers from North Carolina State University will email you the Personal Assessment of the College Environment or PACE survey. It is very important that you fill this confidential survey out. The email will come from the address firstname.lastname@example.org. Please plan to spend 15-20 minutes completing the PACE survey – you cannot save an incomplete survey and return to it. NCSU researchers will compile the results. Your answers will allow members of the CSN Work Climate Committee to identify key issues and collect feedback to inform recommendations that they bring to the administration.
Supplier Inclusion Networking Event and Workshop
CSN, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Nevada State College hosted a Supplier Inclusion Networking Event and Workshop at the West Charleston campus on Oct. 9. Approximately 200 business owners and representatives attended and received information on how to become vendors and do business with us. The event was held in partnership with several Las Vegas area chambers of commerce including the Urban Chamber, the Latin Chamber, the Gay and Lesbian Chamber, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber, the Women’s Chamber, the Asian Chamber, and the Henderson Chamber. Additional community partners attended and participated in the event including the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council, MGM Resorts International Supplier Diversity, the Small Business Administration, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and Clark County’s Business Opportunity and Workforce Development Program. Kudos to all involved in this very successful and growing event!
Chefs for Kids and CSN’s Culinary Program
I want to express my appreciation for CSN’s culinary program, which partnered with local nonprofit Chefs for Kids in late September to deliver freshly cooked breakfast to hundreds of children at Lois Craig Elementary, an at-risk school. The students and staff were at work before dawn to prepare fresh eggs, potatoes, sausage and fruit for the children.
Faculty & Staff Questions:
“Can you talk about upcoming ‘efficiencies’ and why that might occur?”
For many years, CSN has been engaged in efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness, even during the recession. We remain committed to collaborative initiatives with sister institutions and with efficiencies that, strategically, optimize effectiveness at lower cost. Discussions with southern institutions on police services are the latest example of possible efficiencies. But, in this sensitive and essential aspect of the College, the test of an efficiency is aligned with keeping CSN’s employees and students safe and secure. Nonetheless, the Regents are directing that this area of our operations needs to be more widely shared. Because of the many jurisdictions CSN works with, and the capability of our people, CSN might be able, with appropriate resources, to provide police services to all NSHE institutions in Clark County. We’ll keep you informed on how the discussions proceed. A similar initiative is under development in Washoe county with UNR, TMCC and DRI.
“How are the Achieving the Dream projects progressing?”
We are very excited about the progress of CSN’s two pilot projects, including the mandatory matriculation policy for incoming high school graduates and the online Student Success Workshops. The number of graduating CCSD seniors enrolled at CSN has been steadily increasing and overall, they are taking more classes, doing better in those classes, and persisting from semester-to-semester, as well as taking their math and English courses earlier. We continue to evaluate the mandatory matriculation pilot program and aspire to be ready to implement it for all first-time-in-college degree-seeking students in the next year or so. As for the online student success workshops, CSN now offers 41 of these excellent modules that provide students with information on a variety of topics from time management, reading comprehension skills and more. By the end of the spring 2015 semester, 2,100 students had completed 5,300 different workshops and there appears to be a relationship between workshop completion and course success (as measured by completing a course with a C grade or better.)
“Will campuses be closed during “winter break”? What about sites?”
No, campuses will not be closed during winter break. College services will remain open during regular business hours. Supervisors and employees should work together to ensure there is appropriate supervision of employees and that CSN service delivery is not interrupted during these times. Supervisors are encouraged to be as flexible as possible in scheduling time off, but the needs of our students, customers and clients must come first.
Michael D. Richards, Ph.D.
President, College of Southern Nevada