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When most people think of Nevada's four-year, public colleges and universities, UNLV and UNR immediately come to mind.
But there's a third -- Nevada State College, in Henderson -- that may not be thought of as readily.
Bart Patterson wants to change that.
He's president of Nevada State College.
"Our real core focus is to give a great value quality education for bachelor's degrees in nursing, education, business, criminal justice, biology -- really high demand areas here in the valley," Patterson told State of Nevada.
Unlike UNR and UNLV, Nevada State College doesn't offer doctoral degrees, which is why it is a college and not a university. It only recently started offering masters degrees.
But Patterson says staying a college is really the focus of the school.
"We're really focused on providing professional degrees of value so the universities can focus more on research and elevating the knowledge base of the community," he said.
And apparently, there is a need for the type of higher education and student experience that NSC offers. Patterson said the school saw a 70 percent jump in incoming freshmen this year.
Now, more than 4,200 students are enrolled at the college.
"The state clearly needs more professionally trained bachelors degree holders across the state for the jobs that are developing in a variety of industries," Patterson said.
Many of those students are Hispanic. In recognition, Nevada State received a $2.7 million federal grant as a Hispanic Serving Institution -- the first college to do so in the state. The money will be used to further curriculum development.
However, as the student population continues to grow and the programs at the college continue to expand, Patterson said they can't lose the student experience they've fostered over the years, like small classrooms, individual attention, and closer relationships between faculty & students.
Patterson said the Nevada State College master plan includes eventually having 25,000 students ,but he wants to make sure the growth to that number is steady.
With that explosive growth has come a need for funding. The funding formula for the college calculates need based on enrollment from a few years before the Legislature meets. Patterson says that means the college is always "running behind."
He said while he's grateful to the state for the money it has allocated he admits the college has a need for more funding.
"I see it more as a partnership with the state to focus on critical need programs in this state and to grow those out," Patterson said.
That said, the college is working to raise private dollars to match a state grant for the construction of a new education building. Nevada State hopes it can break ground on that facility by 2019.
Patterson hopes to continue to build on partnerships with other higher education institutions from UNLV and UNR to College of Southern Nevada and Truckee Meadows Community College to become "the State college" of Nevada -- not just Las Vegas.
Bart Patterson, president, Nevada State College