Longtime Western Nevada College faculty members Richard and Stephanie Arrigotti are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary at the same time that the college is commemorating its 50th anniversary.
Combined, Richard and Stephanie Arrigotti have been full-time professors at Western Nevada College for 82 years and they have collectively represented the college for 92 years.
To underscore their devotion and dedication to WNC, their 50th wedding anniversary actually coincides with the college’s 50th anniversary. They provide wisdom and insight as WNC celebrates the 50-year anniversary of being founded.
Stephanie, who became a full-time professor of music in the mid-’90s, actually started the music program at WNC in 1977, was an adjunct instructor for 10 years and served as the college’s community education director and music coordinator. The community and theater goers across the country know her better as the producer and director for Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company, which has produced more than a hundred musicals for patrons who travel across the country to see these shows.
“We’ve seen every brick that has been built on campus. Our children have run the hallways and my daughter even did her homework under my desk to be close to me,” Stephanie recalled.
Richard has taught mathematics at WNC since 1973, two years after WNC opened. He has been a full-time faculty member at WNC since 1976 and taught part time starting with spring semester in 1973 after being interviewed by the college’s first president, Jack C. Davis.
“I was amazed that I was interviewed by the college president for a job, but at that time he was the only academic administrator at the college,” Richard said. “We had no building and were working out of what is now the children's museum on Carson Street. My first class was held in a small office north across the street, which has since been torn down. I taught basic arithmetic using a flip pad of paper and a marker. After that semester, I taught basic math and elementary algebra at the Carson Middle School in the evenings until moving to the college's first building (Bristlecone) in 1975, where I continued to teach part time until fall 1976, when I was hired as the college's first full-time math instructor.
Early on, Richard said the entire semester’s course offerings fit on a single 8-by-11 piece of paper.
“There was only one small copy machine that printed only a single page at a time, so the instructors had to use a mimeograph machine to produce class handouts. We were a small faculty, just one in each subject matter: sociology, political science, business, English, math, biology, art, that I recall. The student body consisted primarily of adults well over 21. An 18-year-old student out of high school was an anomaly. That was our college's infancy. Well, now the college is grown up and we have the privilege and honor to serve our community in so many vital ways.”
The college has certainly grown up and the Arrigottis have had a lot to do with it.
Regent Who Helped with Founding of WNC Passes
Former Regent Harold Jesse Jacobsen, who served the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) from 1962 to 1974 and as Chairman of the Board from 1970 to 1974, passed away in January. He was 102 years old.
“Regent Jacobsen was a selfless advocate for the Nevada System of Higher Education, its eight institutions and its students," said Regents Chairman Mark Doubrava. "On behalf of the Board of Regents, Chancellor Melody Rose, NSHE staff and our entire system, I want to express our sympathies to Regent Jacobsen's family.”
Jacobsen served as a Western Nevada College Foundation Board member from 1997 to 2013 and was an honorary board member for the remainder of his life. He also participated in a group of WNC founders who helped with the development and acquisition of land for WNC.
“Regent Jacobsen was a tremendous leader who advocated for and oversaw significant growth of our public higher education system, including renaming Nevada Southern University to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the founding of both Great Basin College and Western Nevada College,” said Regents Vice Chair Carol Del Carlo.
During his service on the Board of Regents, he helped broaden public higher education opportunities throughout Nevada, including the foundation of two of NSHE's four community colleges, Western Nevada College and Great Basin College, and the establishment of the UNR School of Medicine. As a regent he also saw Nevada Southern University officially become the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1969.
In 1980, Regent Jacobsen was recognized as a Distinguished Nevadan, NSHE's most prestigious honor. The Nevada State Legislature issued a proclamation on April 19, 2013 as a day to honor his service to Nevada.
Regent Jacobsen is survived by his wife, five daughters and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Regent Harold Jacobsen Scholarship Endowment by sending checks payable to UNR Foundation, Mail Stop 0162, Reno, NV 89557.
Watch ‘Power of Prison Education and Community’ on WNC’s YouTube Channel
To investigate the transformational power of prison education programs, Western Nevada College convened “College Behind Bars” film director Lynn Novick, Bard Prison Initiative alumnus Dyjuan Tatro, Nevada Second Assistant Attorney General Christine Brady and others for a free, virtual event on Feb. 4.
To highlight efforts of WNC’s Higher Education in Prison Program (HEPP) and its impact within the context of a national conversation about higher education in prison, the college presented “A Community Conversation: The Power of Prison Education and Community.” The event included a virtual screening of short reels from Ken Burns’ “College Behind Bars” and a live Q&A panel.
For those who missed the live event, you can view the webinar on WNC’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LYdVb3BH5w.
HEPP provides access to higher education and workforce education for the underserved population of incarcerated men at Warm Springs and Northern Nevada correctional centers and currently serves about 100 students.
Featured panelists included Novick, director of “College Behind Bars”; Tatro, student featured in the film; Brady; Dr. Vincent Solis, WNC president; and two WNC graduates who earned their associate of general studies degrees while incarcerated. Nevada Department of Corrections Deputy Director of Programs Harold Wickham provided opening remarks. Deb Conrad, Higher Education in Prison Program director and assistant to President Solis, served as the event’s moderator.
“WNC strives for equity, diversity and inclusion for all students and that includes our incarcerated students,” Conrad said. “We offer workforce education pathways that lead to meaningful careers, as well as offering a transfer pathway for those who wish to pursue a four-year degree. With the restoration of Pell grant access for incarcerated students, four-year degrees are within our line of sight for the correctional centers.”