University regents voted Wednesday to create a new type of college in Nevada between universities and community colleges.
Assembly Majority Leader Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, said a four-year state college would provide a new opportunity for students to obtain bachelor's degrees for as low as half the cost.
The proposed college would be located in Henderson and would save money, according to supporters, because it wouldn't offer high-cost advanced degrees, many community services or conduct research like the universities in Reno and Las Vegas.
They say that would enable it to serve students for about $7,500 apiece in state funds for a four-year degree, instead of the $15,000 it now costs at Nevada's universities.
Regents approved the plan not knowing what the new college will cost or how it will operate. The board told supporters to develop a budget and operating scheme.
Regent Mark Alden estimated a state college would require about $5 million in additional funds.
But student and faculty representatives from Nevada's universities and community colleges questioned that number and advised regents not to approve the idea before a budget is developed.
Student representatives, in particular, said a new college would be a drain on already-limited funding for existing campuses.
"It's going to take money from every other institution in the system," said UNLV student and Student Affairs Director Eric Nystrom.
Locating the campus in Henderson, he added, makes no sense because it would be just 10 minutes from the existing UNLV campus.
"Don't sacrifice students on the altar of political profit," he said.
But Perkins said local officials, civic and business leaders in Henderson were willing to contribute upwards of $50 million to get a state college off the ground.
"What we have is an opportunity to bring new dollars to higher education here," he said. The city of Henderson, he added, is willing to contribute 200 acres for the school.
And while nearly everyone on the board agreed that Community College of Southern Nevada President Richard Moore is their choice for "founding president" of the new college, they were barred from naming him because that option wasn't on the agenda.
Instead, they voted to create a search committee to decide how the new president should be selected. They gave the committee until January to recommend either a full search or to hire Moore.
Several regents including Jill Derby, who chairs the board, opposed the search. They said the board should hire Moore in January because plans for the school must be developed and a budget prepared for the 2001 Legislature.
During a lengthy discussion, in which nearly every member of the board backed Moore as their eventual choice, Regent Dorothy Gallagher said a search would be pointless.
"After this lengthy discussion, what makes anybody in the world believe that this is a search?" she said.
But Regent Doug Hill said the board should follow procedure in selecting a new president. Regent Steve Sisolak said he would support the search committee's decision even if it meant a year-long search. The majority agreed and a search committee was ordered, with Derby to name the members.