The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) is making progress in its acquisition of Sierra Nevada University (SNU) just four months after the merger was approved by Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents. UNR President Brian Sandoval this week will update regents on the merger as part of the board’s two-day meeting on Dec. 2 and 3.
“By all accounts student morale at SNU is high, and there is excitement surrounding the acquisition,” UNR officials noted in an update to NSHE regents.
Just under 300 SNU students—pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees both in-person and online—are affected by the merger. Fall enrollment at the school increased after the acquisition was announced, but overall enrollment remains low. A decade ago, SNU had more than 1,000 students attending classes.
SNU students in their final year of study or pursuing degrees not offered by UNR will have the opportunity to earn their degree from either university.
University officials said they’d requested expedited review of the merger by the U.S. Department of Education.
In addition to adding to NSHE’s workforce development efforts, the merger will also boost UNR’s research capabilities through access to the Tahoe Center for Environmental Science, which is located on the SNU campus.
TMCC EastView project to be discussed
The new 52,000-square foot EastView building proposed for the Truckee Meadows Community College Dandini Campus would create experiential learning labs for a handful of programs, including robotics, engineering, culinary and theater.
TMCC President Karin Hilgersom will update regents on the project, which is estimated to cost about $45 million.
Hilgersom is also asking for a resolution on funding the project, including $20 million in bond financing. Funding is also proposed from American Rescue Plan Act dollars, state contributions and grants.
Approval of initial funding will allow the college to also launch a capital campaign, budgeted to raise some $5 million toward the project.
NSHE previously approved $1 million from its investment fund for design of the facility.
COVID-19 vaccination policy
NSHE’s emergency policy requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all employees was adopted on Sept. 30 and is set to expire at the end of December. Chancellor Melody Rose will request the policy become permanent.
The policy requires employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Dec. 1 or face termination. Provisions were put in place for vaccine waivers in the case of a medical condition or religious beliefs.
The mandate extends the vaccine requirement to prospective contracts with independent contractors, their employees and subcontractors working on any NSHE properties.
Regents will also hear from officials at the Public Employee Benefits Program which administers health insurance benefits for NSHE employees. The presentation will cover the impacts of COVID-19, including “costs associated with surveillance testing for PEBP members who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and an increase in the number of health care claims by PEBP members due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”