Enrollment steady at college despite cuts

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Students study in the computer lab at the Joe Dini Library on Wednesday. Despite budget cuts, enrollment projections appear to be on pace with last year.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Students study in the computer lab at the Joe Dini Library on Wednesday. Despite budget cuts, enrollment projections appear to be on pace with last year.

Despite less money this year than in previous years, students at Western Nevada College should not see a reduction in services or classes as the fall semester approaches, college officials say.

One of the biggest losses is that of off-campus offerings for prison inmates, which won't be offered this year, said Anne Hansen, director of information and marketing services.

Enrollment looks solid at this point, she said, with 3,000 students already registered for the fall semester, which begins next month.

Hansen said WNC normally has about 5,000 students each semester, and this fall looks no different. But the 100 or so prison inmates who normally take classes won't find them offered in most cases due to budget cuts from the state.

"We won't be offering very many, if any" prison classes in Carson City, Lovelock or other smaller correctional facilities, Hansen said. She said the turn of events was unfortunate because training and education from WNC can give inmates the skills needed to help them when they return to society.

Hansen said WNC just graduated 20 or so inmates after prison class work, but in the 2008-09 year inmates will have to forego progress toward graduation or enhanced skills available by taking courses.

In addition, Hansen said, budget cuts are squeezing some services but the college is trying to minimize the impact and make certain it doesn't curtail class offerings.

"We have had a number of retirements," she said, but the classrooms will still be staffed. In some cases, adjunct professors will take the positions of retirees, but the normal classes will still be available. No layoffs were made, as the college took a 4.5 percent budget cut this fiscal year.

In many cases key positions where people have retired, such as the college's director of institutional research and the coordinator of Western Nevada College's Douglas campus as well as an administrator for Web-based classes, have not been filled.

In the area of general services, she said, the cutbacks mean people are doubling up on some duties or finding other ways to take up the slack.

The college for the first time will field a softball team beginning this year.

Students at the campus bookstore and library on Wednesday seemed upbeat about the prospects for the coming year.

"I'm looking forward to getting my classes done and transferring to UNR," said third-year student Melissa Hansen, an education major. "I'm ready."

Justin Hall, 27, is at WNC taking classes for his emergency medical technician certification.

He's back on track at the school after dealing with family setbacks, including his father's death from cancer in 2006, just a year after Hall enrolled in school.

"I'm going to get on with myself," Hall said. "This is my calling, man. I've got a strong stomach."

- City Editor David Mirhadi contributed to this report.

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