One of the main goals of Nevada's System of Higher Education is to improve student completion of higher education degrees.
However, Truckee Meadows Community College president Karin Hilgersom told State of Nevada that without additional funding moving that needle will be tough.
"It will be very difficult for TMCC to make amazing new gains in student success and completion if resources aren't there to help us accomplish that," she said.
One of the biggest problems, according to Hilgersom, is that the funding for higher ed is stuck in pre-recession levels.
"When you really analyze the numbers, public education in the state of Nevada has really not received a share of the overall budget that differs from the 2008 and 2009, 2010 period of time," she said.
She said if the college is to remain nimble enough to respond to the needs of new industries moving to Nevada and to the needs of UNR, more faculty and more advisors will be needed.
Hilgersom says the percentage of the budget hasn't changed but the demands for education are changing.
Truckee Meadows Community College has seen an uptick in the number of students applying. Hilgersom says the school is servicing 16,000 students for credit and non-credit courses over four campuses.
"What's happening with TMCC is we're getting to a place where we truly are a comprehensive community college where about half of our students are on the transfer track and the other half are in workforce programs," she said.
She credits the increase in enrollment on scholarship programs and efforts that allow students to have their first year of tuition paid in full. She especially praised the Nevada Promise scholarship program.
"I think what's wonderful about the program is that it is doing what Nevada wanted it to do, which is trying to get more of our residents to public higher education so that they can have happier lives and contribute to our economy in ways that we really need them to," she said.
TMCC is an open-access institution, which means even students who struggled in high school are still accepted. While it seems like a low standard, Hilgersom believes it is actually a strength.
"The ability to access public higher education regardless of how you did in your past is what I think makes America very, very strong," she said.
She believes that her college and other community colleges need to continue to be a place for students who may not be suited for a four-year university to learn a skill and be a bridge for students who want a four-year degree to improve their grades.
Karin Hilgersom, president, Truckee Meadows Community College
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