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University Chancellor Looks Ahead After Year Of Facing Pandemic

Truckee Meadows Community College

Nevada's community colleges, such as Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, are the "workhorses of workforce," according to Melody Rose, chancellor of the state's higher education system.

One year ago, with the state reeling from the pandemic, Melody Rose became chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

It came at a time of unprecedented uncertainty because of COVID-19 as on-campus life came nearly to a halt, classes moved online. Much of her time since has been spent dealing with the pandemic, which has ground on for 18 months.

“This has been an all-hands-on-deck kind of year. There's no doubt folks are getting tired,” she said, “but the commitment to our mission is really driving performance.”

As classes resume this fall, including many in-person, Rose said she can look at her job more strategically, including addressing the goal of greater campus diversity.

“One of the things that drew me to this state, is the fact that our population in Nevada today looks like the future of this country,” she said. “We have a special opportunity and a special responsibility to make sure that all of our staff, faculty, and administrators look like the students that we are admitting into our campuses.

“We know that when teaching environments are populated with diverse instructors and supportive environments, around advising our students, again, they persist, and they complete at higher rates.”

Rose said the system also has taken a new approach toward addressing students who might be deficient in some educational basics.

Colleges and universities are “fully implementing what we call co-requisite requirements for students this fall across the system,” Rose said, “and what co-requisite work does is it replaces the old remediation system of classes.”

Students will receive remedial education along with regular course instruction, saving on tuition and keeping them engaged, Rose said. She credited Vice Chancellor Crystal Abba for developing the approach, which aims to provide students with “whatever level of support they need,” Rose said.

The economic fallout of the pandemic, which idled nearly a third of the Southern Nevada workforce,  also put a focus on whether the higher education system could better prepare students for an economy less reliant on tourism.

“This pandemic and certainly the related economic downturn has really highlighted the need for workforce development and economic diversification in our state,” Rose said.

She said the state’s community colleges, which Rose called “workforce workhorses,”  can also soften the bumps of economic dislocation.

“They’re really skilled at providing short-term certificates for training to get folks re-skilled and back out into the workforce,” she said.

Melody Rose, chancellor, Nevada System of Higher Education

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Kristen Kidman is the senior producer at KNPR’s State of Nevada and is proud to be from Las Vegas.
Dave Berns, now a producer for State of Nevada, recently returned to KNPR after having previously worked for the station from 2005 to 2009.