Brian Sandoval, the president of the University of Nevada, Reno, gave his third State of the University Address on Oct. 17. He touched on many important issues and advancements at the university, including UNR @ Lake Tahoe, an increasing student population, a hiring freeze and recent issues with Title IX.
The Joe Crowley Student Union ballroom filled with students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests from the Nevada System of Higher Education, all looking upon Sandoval from the crowd for his highly anticipated speech. But first, a quick history lesson from Sandoval himself.
He acknowledged Hannah Clapp, the first faculty member and librarian at the university and her accomplishments; additionally, he acknowledged the trails of history leading up to the present day, before leading into the recent university rankings. In addition to the national rankings sent out in a campus wide statement, he added that a site called Webometrics, which uses “purely objective data” to rank universities worldwide, ranked the university 128 out of more than 3,180 universities in the U.S. and ranked it 404 on a global scale.
“In other words, the work of our faculty is truly having a global impact,” Sandoval said.
New programs and advancements
The university was recognized as an “Apple Distinguished” school for the 2023-2026 program term, and the new program “WolfPack Rising” has brought the student population up 3.5 percent and the students of color up by 7.1 percent.
“I’m pleased to report that we’ve just enrolled our largest Hispanic/Latinx class,” Sandoval announced. He reported that this new class puts the university on the cusp of reaching the two percent threshold of being eligible to apply to become a Hispanic-serving institution.
Sandoval also spoke about the university’s Collegiate Academy Program, which is part of the university’s role as a “Land Grand 2.0” to bring “access and opportunity” of higher education to Nevada high schools.
“Our collegiate academies emphasize an important goal: college is for you. We tell these students, ‘you can do this,’” Sandoval said. “Well guess what, they are.”
The UNR Lake Tahoe campus was then discussed, which Sandoval emphasized has brought “incredible work” in the research of the Lake Tahoe basin.
He also announced the faculty will soon have a 38-foot, 14-passenger research and educational vessel due to a donation from the Wiegand Foundation.
“It’s been a long time coming, but now the silver and blue will be helping to keep Tahoe blue on our own research vessel,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval also announced they would be holding their first wintermester at UNR @ Lake Tahoe this year, which will be the first cohort of students from the UNR main campus.
The university was also receiving funding to add 84 new graduate student positions for 2024 and 2025, and 23.2 million dollars for building and campus maintenance.
As for Nevada Athletics, Sandoval reintroduced the arena for the men’s basketball team announcement, which will not include any university funding.
The Nevada Legislature and the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents recently approved a 12 percent increase in the base salaries of all professional staff as a cost-of-living adjustment.
“While these COlAs were timely and deserved, they were not fully-funded by the legislature,” Sandoval said. “The legislature funded only a portion of the COLA, for state-funded positions, appropriating only 61 percent of the total cost of the COLA to the university.”
For self-supporting budgets, including categories of research, student life and parking, the university has to fund one-hundred percent of the COLA. Sandoval said they’ve done this with salary savings by freezing around 100 vacant positions on campus and reductions of 5 percent for each department on campus.
Sandoval said they are trying to find campus funding while also keeping faculty, staff and students equitable in the community.
Title IX concerns
“I wish to take a moment now to talk about the university’s efforts regarding equal opportunity and Title IX,” Sandoval said. “Over the past several months, there’s been news of concerns regarding the university’s Title IX office. I’m fully aware, understand and acknowledge the concerns regarding these issues.”
Sandoval and the provost office have been “intentional” in improving the Title IX office. The department welcomed a new director, Zeva Edmondson, to help bring reform in the program.
The department made enhancements to include more investigators and staff in the department, obtained an outside entity to evaluate and make recommendations on their office and plan to remove any barriers to reporting and responsiveness to case files. Title IX will also produce an annual report and public-facing dashboard made available to the campus community.
“I’m committed personally to engaging continued thoughtful dialogue with our campus about Title IX, now and in the future,” Sandoval said. “And I’ll say this, I promise you, we will make Title IX an office that works for everyone.”
Sandoval then recognized the protestors at the Mathewson Gateway Project College of Business building groundbreaking, calling the college campus and it’s students “the bastion of democracy in action,” marking the day as “one of the incredible moments” in the university’s history.
“I think those of you in the audience who were there will remember for as long as you live,” Sandoval said. “I hope it makes you as proud as it made me to be able to see it for yourselves.”
The address finished off with more accomplishments and a wrap-around to the university’s history, including words from Clapp, regarding the university.
“Our best times, our best story and our best history are still yet to come,” Sandoval said. “We are truly a Wolf Pack family, so thank you.”
Jeff Thompson, the executive vice president and provost, returned to the stage to give some final words before the audience moved to the address’s reception for drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
Jaedyn Young can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.