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Nevada State College Plans Ways To Expand Educational Mission

Bart Patterson

Nevada State College Graduation 2015

On a hill overlooking Henderson sits a small state college with big dreams.

Nevada State College opened for business in 2002, but has struggled in the shadow of its bigger rivals UNLV and UNR.

Now, Nevada State’s President Bart Patterson is looking to expand the college’s role by partnering with two-year colleges statewide.

Bart Patterson says the idea is to improve access to four-year degrees by bringing some programs to community colleges.


You are bringing your programs to campuses like the College of Southern Nevada and other two year colleges around the state?

Absolutely. So a lot of students that are in college, particularly the two-year college and our college, which has an access mission, many of them are working. They have families. And so to have transportation issues, and those types of things, can imped their ability to get a degree.

What we’ve realized is we need to start taking some of our degrees working with the two-year colleges, at CSN and across the state, to find those programs that students really want and want to be able to get that degree right where they’re going to school.

What degrees will you bring to the two-year schools?

I would start with education. One of the critical needs of the state and particularly here in Southern Nevada is to have more teachers going in and helping the Clark County School District. We know there is always a teacher shortage.

When people are working full time and taking care of their families, how long do you think it will take them to get a four-year degree?

You do have some students that do go at pace. You’ve got this bi-modal population where some of the students you’ve got can focus on cohorts to have them go through a two-year program at CSN and have them move right on to Nevada State College for a four-year degree. But others will move at their own pace through this kind of program and that’s the beauty of it. We can design it based on when the student is ready to move on to the next level.

In your presentation to the board you told them to look at Northern Arizona University as a model of the integrated system. What is that model?

Well NAU has done a really terrific job in Arizona of really connecting with every community college across the state. That model is exactly what we’re following, which is they work on the degrees that are going to be of value in the locality and where there is student demand. Identify those degrees and when you have those degrees identified to develop the course work.

Are you going to use the community college faculty or hire your own faculty?

We’ll hire more faculty for sure as this program develops. But we’ll also use our existing faculty and then in some cases we’ll also be utilizing Ph.D.-qualified faculty at the two-year colleges.

 One of the things we really need to do to make this model successful in students staying in school and going on to get a four-year degree is to connect with those students right in their first year at the community college to be a part of the fabric that is building at Nevada State with activities and involvement so they feel like they’re not only enrolled in the community college they’re co-enrolling also in the state college. 

Bart Patterson, president, Nevada State College

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)