The University of Nevada, Reno is facing its most pivotal year since opening its doors in Elko 140 years ago.

This year’s class of over 3,000 freshmen will witness the construction of a student achievement center, a dormitory and a possible athletic facility in their time on campus. More importantly, these students are on hand to watch Reno take early steps toward a new era.

With all of these changes occurring in and around campus, it can be easy to get lost in the mix. However, awareness of these developments will be one of the biggest assets students can use to make the most out of their experience in Reno.

Starting with the demolition of Getchell Library last winter break, the university closed one chapter of its storied history and opened a new one by announcing the construction of a student achievement center to take its place.

By uniting all of the tutoring services and academic resources on campus, excellence in education has been placed at the forefront of the university’s efforts. While the facility will not be complete until next year, its construction is a testament to the university’s commitment to the students.

Owing to President Marc Johnson’s vision of a healthier campus, the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center will serve as the final piece for a “second quad” on campus. Located across from the Joe Crowley Student Union, the building has the potential to bring a new excitement to campus.

After being put to a campus-wide vote, each student will play a part in building the facility through a fee included in tuition. Once the building is complete, the Lombardi Recreation Center will serve as a student-athlete only facility and will give the department more firepower to compete in the Mountain West Conference.

All of these changes are only a piece in the bigger puzzle of Reno’s development. In recent years, Reno has experienced a massive culture shift from a gambling town to a vibrant city with a burgeoning local arts scene.

Reno has always had the luxury of being located within an hour drive from Lake Tahoe, but the Truckee River Walk and Midtown have both combined to give the city’s local economy a boost after reaching a record 13.3 percent unemployment in January 2011.

Employment opportunities are growing with the success of local restaurants, art galleries and theaters located throughout the Reno valley.

In addition to these changes in the local arts scene, the tech industry has become a major player in the city’s economy. Startup Row has developed a cult following downtown; Apple has placed a facility in the area and electronic car manufacturer Tesla might set up their own operations outside of the city which could create more than 3,000 new jobs.

Politics are also shifting as Hillary Schieve is making a strong run for Reno mayor, a position that has been historically dominated by male candidates.

In the middle of all of this are the students at the University of Nevada (not UNR). Not only is the campus centrally located, but its development will be essential to the overall growth of the city. Reno relies on the developing young minds at the University to become the movers and shakers of tomorrow.

The campus is constantly expanding its resources to build stronger leaders of tomorrow. By understanding the valuable assets offered on campus, each student has the opportunity to maximize their own leadership potential on campus and in the greater Reno community.

The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at cboline@