Breanna Denney/Nevada Sagebrush

University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson presents last year’s achievement to audience members during the State of the University Address on Sept. 17. He believes that the university can build off those successes and use them to stand out against their competition. 

By Rocio Hernandez

About 250 students, faculty and community members gathered in the Glick Ballroom to hear President Marc Johnson’s State of the University Address and his plans for the University of Nevada, Reno on Sept. 17. (See illustration.)

“I think that [becoming a Carnegie research university] is going to be huge in terms of further development, attracting new students, attracting new professors, which will in turn possibly attract new companies, new tech companies, new research companies into our region,” said Reno city councilman Oscar Delgado.

Johnson began the speech by highlighting the achievements that the university made in the past year: a 6.2 percent enrollment increase, retention rate rose to 82.2 percent and graduation rates that are getting very close to UNR’s goal of 60 percent.

Johnson said that he is really proud of this year’s freshman class. They had the highest GPA and test scores than any other incoming class. They are the also most diverse the university has seen, with more than 40 percent of students from underrepresented ethnic groups, many of them are Hispanic. According to Johnson, this is crucial because the university wanted to communicate to prospective students that it welcomes all to campus.

“I like that we were emerging as a really Hispanic serving institution,” said Abby Feenstra, speaker pro tempore for the Associate Students of the University of Nevada. “I think that as a Tier One institution, we are reflecting and serving that rising population in this country.”

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These accomplishments, Johnson said, are building a road of success for the university’s future.

“Whatever happens at the university is just as important for everybody to hear because of its economic development opportunities, educational opportunities, and because of how much we all expect and want the university to succeed,” Delgado said.

Johnson said UNR would maximize the momentum by preparing the university’s expected growth of 22,000 students between 2017–2022. Johnson said the university would continue to create more space for classes and research. (See illustration.)

“Our university is exploding at this point and that’s super exciting, but it also causes a lot of complications [so] I think it’s good that the president is recognizing that and addressing it, setting those kind of ambitious goals,” Feenstra said.

Johnson said that all these goals would be feasible with the increases the university expects from their four major sources of revenue: tuition and fees, state funding, philanthropy and grants and contracts.

Student generated revenues will rise with the higher number of enrollment and the 4 percent registration increase that will start in fall 2015. Johnson said the Board of Regents is planning to eliminate furloughs and pay for the additional $35,000 weighted student credit hours that were generated between 2012 and 2014. According to the president, the university received $90 million in research funds last year and he sees the number increasing.

The university will also continue to push for connections with the City of Reno, physically and cooperatively, as the city moves toward economic revitalization and redefining itself.

“We are actively pursuing a strategy that will extend our university footprint and develop properties, not just a single block south of our campus, but several blocks south of campus,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that the people who work and study at this university should feel proud of the work that they do here, and encourages them to take a part in moving the university forward.

“…This is an exciting moment for our University, a time that needs your active participation, your engagement and your talent,” Johnson said. The work that you do will lift our reputation, and that, in turn, will help your reputation, as well.”