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Great Basin College Plans For Future Growth

The University of Nevada, Reno and University of Nevada, Las Vegas usually come to mind when you think of a four-year degree in Nevada but a small college based in Elko actually offers several four-year degrees for people living in rural Nevada.

Great Basin College is headed up by President Joyce Helens and she believes getting the word out about her college is one of the most important goals for the coming year. 

Helens hopes to bring that message of recognition to the Legislature when it starts next year.

"The important thing would be just to recognize that we are here," she said. "We haven't told our story in a way that people will hear it."

Helens hopes getting out the message about the college and the challenges it faces as a college that services 86 square miles of rural Nevada will help increase funding.

Besides the 15 baccalaureate degrees it offers, the college also offers 50 associate degrees. Helens said the college provides certificates and degrees in everything from liberal arts to mining technology.

"We are doing everything because we are the higher education portal in rural Nevada," she said.

Right now, a majority of the students enrolled at the college are online learners but Helens is looking to expand the physical buildings. They have plans to build in Pahrump.

"I think that community is growing so fast they really want it yesterday," she said.

They're also fundraising for a building in Winnemucca and they have a building already Battle Mountain. Helens said a physical building provides that feeling "going to college" to people in rural areas.

The college is also now working with UNR and UNLV like never before to make sure students can easily transfer. She said she has had some students move from urban campuses to her campus but mostly it is rural students going to the big city. Whatever the student chooses, Helens wants it to be an easy path.

"We want to make sure that there is a well-lighted path going one way or the other," she said.

Besides the new buildings and the expanded partnership with UNR and UNLV, Helens is working on bringing athletics to the residential campus in Elko.

She said people in the area have been waiting years for the college to introduce athletic programs. She believes it will bring students to the campus and keep them there to be educated.




Joyce Helens, president, Great Basin College

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)