Great Basin College aims for more consolidation with UNR, but no ‘merger’ – The Nevada Independent

UNR and Great Basin College — Nevada’s most rural college based primarily in Elko — may soon be closer than ever as part of a plan to consolidate more operations.

In an interview with The Nevada Independent On Thursday, GBC President Joyce Helens confirmed that talks to extend consolidation between the UNR and GBC have been going on for a long time and have intensified again in recent months. The proposal would further integrate so-called “shared services” between the two institutions, expanding a list of more than a dozen such services at GBC already run by UNR.

Helens asked the Board of Regents to arrange an item at their September meeting that would formally allow the two institutions to “explore” what, precisely, these new shared services would look like.

But, says Helens, don’t call it a merger.

“The word ‘merge’ is never contemplated and we would never merge because merge means something,” she said. “And that’s nothing we got involved with.”

Alluding to mergers in a corporate sense, Helens said any further consolidation between UNR and GBC would not produce a new institution with a new name (like when Barrick and Newmont merged to create a new company named Nevada Gold). Mines), nor would it bear any resemblance to NUR’s recently completed acquisition of the private University of Sierra Nevada at Lake Tahoe.

She also listed a long list of existing agreements between the two institutions – 13 memorandums of understanding have been signed over the past half-decade, incorporating everything from legal services to tax services to university policing – and announced any further consolidation whatsoever. ultimately be, as existing in the same vein.

“We’re still looking at what’s next,” Helens said. “So all we’re doing is continuing to ask, ‘what would be a next consolidation for us to ensure the legacy of higher education in rural Nevada continues?’

At this early stage, the scope of UNR’s services remains unclear and few official details are available. When asked to comment, an UNR spokesperson directed The Nevada Independent back to Helens. Separately, Board of Regents chair Cathy McAdoo – who also represents the geographic region that encompasses GBC – did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When asked how the move might affect faculty, Helens said that “there is no change to the way we operate as GBC and we don’t expect it to. be so”.

However, she also pointed to existing problems in shared programs that could be addressed by proposed consolidations, such as a four-year program that requires three years at GBC and one year at NUR. Although GBC is primarily a two-year institution, its unique geographic location in rural Nevada – and away from either of the state’s two urban centers – has led to the creation of a number of bachelor’s degree programs from four years.

“We saw when we were going deeper that sometimes a student didn’t finish,” she said. “And the reason for that is that they have to have two applications, one to GBC, one to UNR. And when you think about it, it doesn’t make sense. It’s a barrier, and it feels artificial.

When asked how the consolidation would affect students, Helens described the change as one that would “create a ‘one stop shop'” that would make it “much easier for students to go back and forth” between the two institutions.

Helens also downplayed the financial role the pandemic and COVID-related budget downturns played in any decision to consolidate services, instead pointing to an outdated community college-based funding formula as a more serious financial impediment for GBC.

Falling enrollment — and the expected loss of revenue that accompanies those declines — have hit the state’s two-year institutions more critically, and Great Basin enrollment fell more than 11.3% between 2019 and 2021.

While the Regents are expected to hear more about the consolidation in September, there is no firm timeline attached to the ongoing talks, although Helens hinted at a broader timeline of around a year and a half – a period that would include discussions with the groups concerned. .

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