When Western Nevada College President Carol Lucey retired in October 2013, the Churchill County community let out a sigh of relief.
During her time at the helm, the WNC Fallon campus saw many of its services centralized and relocated to Carson City as the Great Recession of 2008-2009 intensified. As a result, class offerings in Fallon dropped and the number of instructors — both full time and part time — decreased. Decisions were not forthcoming and a web of transparency cloaked all three campuses.
With her retirement came change and better transparency when Chancellor Dan Klaich of the Nevada System of Higher Education tabbed Chester “Chet” Burton to become the interim president of WNC.
Burton inherited a WNC besieged by enormous budget cuts and low staff morale. Furthermore, government let the community college system down, especially in places like Fallon and Winnemucca and Elko with the elimination of the “Rural Factor” — a formula based on lower enrollment to teacher ratios, based on part-time faculty.
Over the past four years, funding formulas changed. Members of Fallon’s Restore Our College Campus Committee expressed disappointment that the current biennium budget for both WNC and Great Basin College in Elko did not contain additional money to be used as bridge funding.
Because of a new funding formula several years ago, the two colleges received almost $5 million in bridge funding which restored money the community colleges lost because of allocations and the elimination of the rural factor.
Burton is a tireless crusader fighting for WNC. Also, Burton has been a breath of fresh air by listening to others. He appointed a Fallon director with strong ties to Churchill County to administer the day-to-day operations of WNC, and Burton has attended monthly ROCCC meetings to receive local feedback.
Burton is bright, articulate and empathetic and has already made a difference because of his leadership by restoring confidence and transparency in an educational institution that was severely broken.
Now, Klaich and the NSHE Regents seek the community’s feedback in preparation of a contract renewal for Burton.
Klaich wants feedback. The Fallon community is more than satisfied with Burton’s leadership and vision for the future. It would be in the NSHE’s best interest to retain Burton as WNC president.
This is one time we hope Klaich and the NSHE regents are listening to those where positive leadership has made a difference.
LVN Editorials written by the Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.