WNC president talks challenges of a changing world
When Western Nevada College President Vincent Solis talks about the ever changing challenges facing his institution, one gets a sense he knows it’s a daunting task — but one that must be accomplished as well.
Solis, who has been WNC’s president for six months, talked about the changing world he said WNC must prepare its students for during the Carson City Democratic Men’s Club meeting on Monday.
He noted when previous generations were told about stranger danger — not to talk to strangers — and then the danger of talking to others online.
“Now you go on the phone and talk to a stranger and tell them to pick up,” said Solis talking about Uber.
He used Uber and others to describe the changing landscape of society. He noted the world’s largest bank — SocietyOne — is an online bank that doesn’t have any physical buildings of any kind.
He also noted the largest hospitality company in the world, Airbnb, doesn’t own any hotels, and the world’s largest telecommunications company, Skype, doesn’t own any phones.
In addition, Solis noted the company Quirky can take someone’s idea from concept to the marketplace within one month.
“This is the world in which we and the college have to prepare our students for,” Solis said.
Solis said employers tell WNC it does a good job in preparing students with the technical skills they need, adding their employees also need social skills.
The top five social skills noted by employers are creativity; persuasion — actually being able to talk to others; collaboration; adaptability; and time management.
He noted today’s students “haven’t learned the ability to knock on someone’s door.” Solis added a fact about today’s youngest generation — generation Z — saying 40 percent of that generation have stated it’s more important to have high-speed internet than a working bathroom.
Solis also talked about the Rising Billion — 1 billion people who will be going online for the first time in the next 10 years.
“These students are the brightest minds our earth has ever seen,” Solis said. “It’s how you orchestrate that that’s important. We are working hard to prepare our students to be successful. We challenge our students to think critically.”
When it comes to the upcoming legislative session one of the things Solis would like to see be stressed is dual enrollment in which high school students also take part in college programs.
He also said one of the biggest challenges is obviously the rising cost of education and the student debt it creates. He said only the cost of health care surpasses the cost of education in our society.
Other updates on WNC Solis provided included the fact that all of the other top administrative positions at the college are interim and need to be filled. He said he hoped a national search was being done to fill all those positions and that all those positions would be filled by the end of the semester.
Solis also talked about the need for accelerated learning schedules such as eight-week terms. He also mentioned the Pennington Foundation’s $1.3 million grant to WNC to update its labs, noting WNC is one of only the nation’s few community colleges that have a cadaver lab.
He summed up WNC’s task by how a society’s strength is now measured. “It’s not how many tanks you have it’s how many bright minds you produce.”