Sometime next year, a committee will make its recommendation for a new Western Nevada College president to Chancellor Dan Klaich and then to the Board of Regents.
So far, the process to select people to the selection committee and to seek input from the areas where WNC serves has been a breath of fresh air. Klaich, along with the Regents including Ron Knecht, who represents Carson City, Fallon and the Minden-Gardnerville area, have made the process as transparent as possible in the first stage of selecting a new leader.
A good first step began recently in Carson City and now Fallon where Klaich and Knecht solicited input from residents as to the qualifications needed to lead WNC and what the future looks like for the community college.
First and foremost, the new WNC president must treat the rural campuses with the same fiery passion as he or she would with Carson City. The success of WNC depends on each campus working together, not a fractious approach that pits communities against each other. This is what occurred under President Carol Lucey’s presidency for the past five years, and the result has decimated the Fallon campus to a mere shell of what it was 10 years ago.
Essentially, a new president must be a visionary and statesman, especially during the legislative bloodbath when southern Nevada lawmakers turn their backs on rural Nevada and concentrate their attention and preferences solely within the borders of Clark County and what can be done to UNLV and the other institutions of higher learning. Need we remind our elected officials — and that means all of them from the Oregon border to Laughlin — that the state’s success depends on the education our future citizens receive.
No university, no community college wants to be treated as a second-class institution rummaging after the scraps thrown to them by lawmakers. Higher education in the Silver State does not deserve a red-blue, north-south issue. It is a Nevada issue requiring compromise and the understanding that students in Fallon or Elko or Gardnerville have the same right to take a class as their counterparts in Reno or Las Vegas.
The new president must be a leader and a listener who becomes fully engaged with the communities. Monthly trips must be implemented to receive input from both the students and faculty and from he community at large. Town hall meetings must be the norm, not the exception.
Efforts to expand course offerings and make an honest effort to return the nursing program to Churchill County is a must for the new president. When the previous regime yanked the nursing program out of Fallon and to Carson City, other required class offerings and prerequisites disappeared.
Churchill and Douglas county residents, along with those in Carson City, will be watching closely, and we urge the Regents to keep the process as transparent as possible.
Editorials are written by the LVN Editorial Board.