The move comes two weeks after SNU cut ties with nine full-time faculty members.
The Sierra Nevada University Board of Trustees on Wednesday announced an agreement to allow the Incline Village-based school to be absorbed into the University of Nevada, Reno.
SNU has for decades been the state’s only accredited, private, four-year institution and is known for its small class sizes and long-time professors. Since its founding in 1969 (as Sierra Nevada College) it has focused on liberal arts education and was well-known for its creative writing and arts programs, and more recently masters-level education programs.
The announcement was made just two weeks after SNU announced it wasn’t renewing the annual contracts of nine full-time professors—citing low enrollment numbers in recent years and increasing demand for more programs in “job-ready degrees for things like business and sciences.”
The SNU board’s announcement is the first step in a process that will require further approvals by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents and several regulatory bodies.
The NSHE Board of Regents are scheduled to consider the agreement on July 23. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, as well as the United States Department of Education will then review the integration details to ensure student and academic program continuity.
Under the agreement, the SNU Incline campus would become part of UNR—and SNU programs and operations would gradually be merged with those of UNR.
“We could not be more excited at the prospect of having Sierra Nevada University join the Wolf Pack Family,” UNR President Brian Sandoval said. “This is an historic agreement, a very important first step in what will be several more to come to ensure that this process will be done thoughtfully and carefully.”
Sandoval cited SNU’s increasing emphasis on “entrepreneurial thinking” and “professional preparedness” as values in alignment with UNR’s.
SNU students will continue their studies on the SNU campus for the 2021-22 academic year and will experience very little change. SNU faculty will deliver 2021-22 academic year courses as scheduled, and athletic and extracurricular programs will continue unchanged.
If the transition is approved, SNU students would be offered paths to either SNU or UNR degrees.
“This will be the best of both worlds for SNU students,” Dr. Atam Lalchandani, chair of the Sierra Nevada University Board of Trustees, said. “To provide access to the resources and opportunities of an outstanding research university like UNR while preserving the intimacy of a small campus is every college’s dream.”
Sandoval said the collaborative effort between the two institutions would have clear benefits in enhancing current and future students’ experiences and would also benefit research to help preserve Lake Tahoe’s legendary clarity.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.