Vincent Solis is resigning his post as Western Nevada College president effective Dec. 31.
Western Nevada President Vincent Solis is returning to his native Texas after accepting a similar position at Brazosport College south of Houston.
Solis’ resignation becomes effect Dec. 31.
The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents hired Solis in May 2018, and he was formally introduced to the Churchill County community three months later with a reception at Western Nevada College’s Fallon campus.
“I have thoroughly loved my time here in Nevada and I believe strongly in WNC’s mission to ensure the success of students in our classrooms and academic programs as we prepare them to excel in their chosen fields and serve as leaders in their communities,” Solis said. “I made this decision based on the opportunity to serve my home state of Texas and in consideration of my family needs.”
Board of Regents’ Chair Pro Tempore Carol Del Carlo commented on Solis’ tenure at WNC.
“The Board of Regents and the Nevada System of Higher Education community are incredibly grateful to President Solis for all he has done to move Western Nevada College and its campuses forward over the past three years. He will be sorely missed,” Del Carlo said. “I will be working with Chancellor Melody Rose and Vice Chair Pro Tempore Amy Carvalho in the coming weeks when we will announce additional information regarding the transition of leadership at WNC.”
Solis, with almost 30 years of experience in higher education, had served as the senior vice president of academic and student services at Laredo (Texas) Community College. Before coming to Nevada, Solis said he lived in an area similar to the Lahontan Valley and was reminded of the early morning activity of a small, rural area.
“The rural mission continues to be central to what we do,” Solis said.
During his first meeting in Fallon, he called the area a special community. One of his goals was for WNC to become better partners with Oasis Academy and the Churchill County School District to help students prepare their labor skills for the region’s future industries. When he spoke at an August 2020 breakfast sponsored by the Churchill Entrepreneurial Development Association, Solis said the partnership developed between WNC and the two high schools has resulted in the Jump Start program where students can earn both high school credits and a two-year degree.
Solis said the normal success rate for WNC’s non high-school students is about 30 to 35%, and the best community colleges show a 40% success rate. The Fallon campus students, he said, show 97%.
Solis touted the 120 students who graduated with both associate’s and high school degrees while avoiding debt. The WNC president told business leaders he would like to see this model replicated for the rest of WNC’s service area and the entire state. He also applauded the nursing program, which returned to Fallon in 2016. The program continues to increase its enrollment. Solis said his goal was also to reinvest money in Fallon’s nursing program.
“As a district, we look forward to working with WNC to ensure that our Fallon campus and our dual enrollment programs are top priorities to the incoming president,” said Summer Stephens, superintendent of the Churchill County School District.
During his overall time in western Nevada, WNC began offering its second bachelor's degree (a Bachelor of Applied Science in Organization and Project Management) online; launched Wildcat Reserve, a food and hygiene pantry to help eliminate food insecurity for students and their families; held its first graduation ceremonies on the Carson and Fallon campuses; launched a paramedicine program; and supported the growth of a program for incarcerated students.
“Dr. Solis strengthened partner relationships during his time at WNC,” said Rochelle Tisdale, chief academic officer for Oasis. “He worked tirelessly to increase enrollment and develop new programs. His energy and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.”
During his three years as WNC president, the college became a Hispanic Serving Institution and grew Native American enrollment by 22% to 77 students across WNC’s three campuses. This growth has brought students of color to 36% of total enrollment which is a record for WNC.
He also guided and supported the WNC Foundation through a $1.35 million capital improvement and relocation project for the William N. Pennington Foundation biology lab on the Carson campus and the foundation’s $800,000 workforce development project to build a mobile manufacturing training lab to directly serve students in remote locations.
Retired Fallon dean Harry “Bus” Scharmann said he feels the Fallon campus suffered during the past three years. He said the major emphasis during Solis’ tenure was directed more toward Carson City and not growing Fallon’s adult enrollment.
“We need to get the adult population in school to grow enrollment,” Scharmann said.
Scharmann said the WNC program once had 195 full-time equivalent students enrolled at the Fallon campus. He said 70% of the adult population enrolled at WNC is all gone. Students attended split classes at 5:30 p.m. or a longer block at 7 p.m.
The longtime educator and former Churchill County commissioner said he recently drove by the campus at 8:30 p.m. and not a car was in the parking lot.
“Carson City, in my view, doesn’t like to see a stand-alone campus,” Scharmann said.
He said the WNC hierarchy in Carson City doesn’t want the Fallon campus used as a separate facility. Scharmann said he wouldn’t be opposed to the Fallon campus aligning itself with another college.
Scharmann points to the former WNC campus in Minden that’s now used for continuing education.
The retired dean said he would also like to see the Restore Our College Campus Committee (ROCCC), which began to address cuts nine years ago, resurrected to discuss the change in philosophy for the Fallon campus.
Because of the problems affecting the Fallon campus, former NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich visited Fallon in 2014 to hold a town hall meeting. Scharmann said Klaich was interested in what residents and community leaders in Fallon had to say.
“ROCCC is why the campus still exists,” Scharmann said.