With enrollment soaring, the University of Nevada, Reno, is considering creating new programs, including one to focus on aging and another devoted to Latino studies.
"We face the phenomenal challenge of enrollment increases of approximately 50 percent, even with increased admission standards," UNR President John Lilley said Wednesday in his State of the University address.
"If we don't get better as we get bigger, we will have failed," he said of the school with 15,590 students.
In addition to a Latino Center and an Institute for Aging, Lilley said school officials are considering in the coming years a new Center for Global Diversity Studies, a Center for Identity Culture and Gender Studies and a Center for Justice and Judicial Studies.
A bill to create an Institute for Latino Research and Advocacy died earlier this year in the Legislature, but Lilley said UNR continues to support its growing Latino student population.
"We're always looking at what more we can do, so we're happy to look at all these issues," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal before the speech.
Lilley said faculty members must contribute ideas for allocating money and resources wisely in the face of tight economic times and growing enrollment.
Trudy Larson, head of UNR's faculty Senate, said Lilley's address challenges faculty members and administrators to work together to make the university stronger.
"He has empowered the faculty, and now we know he has put his money where his promises were," Larson said of an $8 million allocation to academic programs, including money to provide more faculty to teach such core curriculum classes as English, math and the sciences.
"Now he is tasking the faculty and administration to take the next step to create new centers, new institutes and present their best ideas," she told the Gazette-Journal.
That doesn't mean there won't be a repeat of some of the acrimony that erupted in the last two years over the decision to reorganize the College of Arts and Science and the Mackay School of Mines in the first phase of the strategic plan, she said.
"I think there will always be people who have difficulty adjusting to change. But (Lilley) was right on when he said this reorganization process was going to bring engagement," Larson said. "Our Faculty Senate meetings are very vocal and lots of ideas are coming out. We haven't had this kind of participation in years."
In his address, Lilley said five areas will be targeted for improvement:
- Enhancing the student experience by strengthening academic programs, encouraging diversity on campus and improving the campus amenities and environment.
- Identifying UNR's strengths and weaknesses in order to improve its performance.
- Promoting what it does well so the public is aware of its successes, nationally and internationally.
- Cultivating more supporters to help raise funds in a time of limited economic resources.
- Creating new institutes, centers and programs.