Sierra College eyes alliance with UNR, DRI
Sierra Nevada College announced Tuesday it is in “nonexclusive discussions” with the University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute regarding a possible alliance.
“The negotiations are sincere and genuine,” said SNC interim president Larry Large. “We’re making a sincere effort to explore all possibilities.”
College officials have said that because of a lack of endowments, the school is no longer able to stand alone as a private college and is looking to partner with one or more institutions.
“There was a realization by the board of trustees that it’s difficult today in America to have a small liberal-arts college survive,” board chairman John Altman said Friday. “We’re leveraging the future by looking for a strategic partnership.”
Discussions will continue with other nonprofit and for-profit educational institutions in the public and private sectors, according to a college press release.
All existing partners, including University of California at Davis, Carnegie Mellon University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography will be consulted in the process, the press release said.
Former SNC president Paul Ranslow announced his resignation Friday, citing his reason for leaving as a change in his role. He was president for just more than one year.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Mary Peterson also resigned Friday.
Peterson said she knew in June, when enrollment numbers were down, that there may be a shake-up.
She explained sufficient enrollment and endowment need to be in place for a liberal- arts college to stand alone.
“Enrollment is lower than we hoped for and anticipated,” Peterson said Friday.
Last year, the college welcomed about 110 new undergraduates, for a total of about 320 students, Peterson said.
This year, about 85 to 90 new faces are enrolled, for a total of 275 to 280 students.
Peterson attributed the enrollment decline to a decreased pool of students eligible for college, and economics, which make private schools more difficult to afford.
“The demographic of college-aged students is declining,” Large said. “There’s more competition (among colleges) across the country for new student enrollment.”
Large also cited the administration office’s change in personnel as a reason for this year’s decreased enrollment.
“We definitely have fewer students than we expected,” he said.