President Marc Johnson gave the annual State of the University address in the Glick Ballrooms in the Joe Crowley Student Union on Tuesday, Sept. 26. In the address, Johnson talked about goals for the next few years and issues facing the university.
Johnson highlighted three main goals in his speech: to increase enrollment and lower the student to faculty ratio, to make UNR a Carnegie R-1 institution and to become a pillar for economic development for the “new Nevada”.
Johnson started the address by talking about the increased enrollment the university has seen in the last few years. In 2017, the student population has reached 21,657, with the freshmen class having higher average ACT and SAT scores and GPAs. The increase of population has put the current student to faculty ratio at 20 to 1, but Johnson said the university is looking to lower that ratio to 18 to 1.
The retention rate, or the amount of freshmen that return as sophomores, grew to 81 percent. The 4-year graduation rate grew from 26 percent in 2016 to 3 percent in 2017.
Johnson also addressed diversity on campus. Almost 38 percent of students at the university are people of color. Johnson said the university is actively trying to hire more diverse faculty to match the student population. UNR has hired 217 new positions in the last four years.
Johnson praised the students at UNR for creating “meaningful dialogue” about diversity after a student was identified at a white nationalist rally that turned violent in Charlottesville a week before the Fall semester started. He said the students are what makes the university strong.
Another goal of the university is to become a Carnegie R-1 institution. This means that UNR would be one of the top universities in the country for research activity. Only 10 states in the country do not have an R-1 institution, including Nevada, and there are some surrounding states — like Arizona — with two or more. Johnson said this would take about $150 million in research funds to do, and the university already has $125 million.
The last goal was for the university to become a pillar for economic development for the “new Nevada”. Many of the colleges and institutions at the university have paired with outside businesses and programs to help develop students. Johnson said he hopes this continues to build the Reno community.
At the end of the address, Johnson praised the medical school and the athletic program for continuing to grow and bring national attention the university.
“We have achieved record-setting institutional performance[…]we will achieve our goals. After all, we are the University of Nevada, Reno,” Johnson said.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.