The first State of Sandoval University: a nod to history and big goals for the future

President Brian Sandoval’s first state-of-the-university address, who also combined his official inauguration as 17e President Tuesday in the Glick Ballrooms of the Joe Crowley Student Union, shared a number of ambitious institutional goals, some of which, he admitted, were “bold.”

“Every bold goal seems impossible,” Sandoval, who wore a mask, told an in-person masked crowd of around 150 people. “Until that happens.”

Sandoval’s goals for the University included short-term milestones – reaching a record 23,000 students by 2025, achieving federal classification as a “Hispanic service institution” with 25 percent of the overall Latinx enrollments, reinforcing the University’s grounding as Carnegie R1 “Very High Research” – as well as the ambitious longer-term goal of becoming one of the 66 member institutions of the Association of American Universities.

“Joining the AAU will not happen overnight,” he said. “It will take years of strategic planning, investment and teamwork. This will force us to continue the journey we have already taken… but with greater breadth and purpose. “

Sandoval, a former Nevada governor who was appointed president of the university on September 17, 2020, said that last year the institution’s chief executive showed him enough “acts of grace and kindness to last a lifetime “during a historically difficult pandemic. During his 39-minute address, he congratulated the students, faculty and staff of the University for the many sacrifices each had made during the pandemic.

“All of you, the whole University, have risen up during a time of uncertainty, of disruption, of loss,” he said. “A time when Reno, Northern Nevada and the State of Nevada needed the work of every person on our campus to continue to make the promise of a better and brighter future, real and whole again. “

Sandoval said the university will need to continue to make prudent decisions and plan wisely as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainties of the pandemic. He encouraged all members of the University community to participate in the University’s strategic planning process, which began in earnest during the fall semester with “listening visits” from President and President Jeff Thompson with all. schools, colleges, divisions and units of the University.

“We want this process to reflect in all respects our public priorities for the future, with clear goals that manage our resources – human, physical and financial – in the most efficient way,” said Sandoval. He added that the campus, if it hadn’t already participated in the listening tours, could share ideas and see which tours were yet to come on the University’s recently launched strategic planning website.

Sandoval said the biggest near-term challenge for the campus – in addition to the volatility of the pandemic – was budgetary considerations for the current biennium. He said that although fall enrollment was “good” at 21,034 students counted as part of the University’s census earlier this month, student credit hours are down by about 1.0. 5%.

Student credit hours, coupled with a cut in salaries and operating funds that were not restored in the last legislative session, meant the University had to cut government-funded positions that would otherwise have been available.

“We were only able to fill about 25% of the state-funded positions needed on campus,” Sandoval said, adding that positions that do not come from state funding sources continue to advance. He said the University must be “strategic” to fill publicly funded positions and that Thompson will lead the application review effort for these positions, with priority given to positions that will help the University maintain. his R1 status as well as to positions that help ensure student success.

Even with the funding limitations, Sandoval said he was optimistic about the future of the University.

He noted that the University, which has 43% of its overall student body identifying as students of color and 48% of this year’s freshman class identifying as students of color, must continue to have a high degree of intentionality by continuing to improve diversity on campus, which “speaks to the very heart of our mission as a higher education institution”.

He said that with the upcoming hiring of an Indigenous Community Relations Director, as well as the completion of the legislature’s most recent action to secure tuition exemption for community members native, protecting DACA students to maintain scholarships, federal grants, and college savings and tuition programs, and extending tuition waivers to children and spouses of members of the Nevada National Guard, all were part of a “quest” on which the University “must not waver”.

“Our university, the University of Nevada, Reno, should always be a place where all voices are heard, all experiences are affirmed and everyone here knows they are always welcome and appreciated,” Sandoval said. .

Prior to delivering his “State of the University” speech, Sandoval participated in the investiture ceremony with his wife, Lauralyn.

Cathy McAdoo, chair of the Board of Regents for the Nevada System of Higher Education, presided over the ceremony.

She said that the year Sandoval had been president it was evident that he had worked “as we often hear him say from his first day on the job” that “the University is the place where every student can become who whether it be”. this is who they wish to be, and this is the place where they can make any dream come true.

McAdoo also praised Sandoval’s leadership and interpersonal skills: “There has been a pandemic, as well as the University’s return to full operations. Throughout it all, he has been able to ensure that the Wolf Pack Family remains safe and healthy as the campus, the community, and all of Nevada continue to face a historically difficult pandemic.

“He has proven to be a leader who cares about the people at this university. I believe that the people on this campus who have had the opportunity to speak and meet him would agree that there are few people who are more sincerely interested in their hopes and dreams than he.

As has been the tradition for other presidential inaugurations – which normally took place as separate ceremonies, but due to budget and pandemic considerations, Sandoval chose not to hold a separate ceremony – McAdoo then introduced the 17e CEO with the official symbol of academic leadership, the President’s Medallion.

During the State of Sandoval University address, he referred to another inauguration in the 147-year history of the university, including the words of the university president, Joseph Stubbs, who was the institution’s third president from 1894 to 1914.

Sandoval quoted words from Stubbs’ inauguration in September 1894 that “If colleges are true to themselves, they never grow old… The ideal university… is the embodiment of the best spirit of the day. “

“I truly believe,” said Sandoval, noting the extraordinary work that students, faculty and staff have done during the pandemic, “that our university is the embodiment of the best spirit of our time.”

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