Update on Nevada State College Campus Solidarity

Dear Nevada State Community,

As a growing college, we remain committed to learning and evolving. The events of the last few weeks have brought into sharp focus the critical issues of social justice, policing, and criminal justice reform, particularly for African Americans. While there are broader societal issues that need urgent attention and our support, we should also look inward to how we can do better as a College. While we have been engaged in a dedicated effort to improve, particularly for the last three years, we can reinforce and accelerate our efforts to expand African American student success, increase tangible outcomes, and better support our African American faculty and staff. Throughout this process, we will engage in a direct dialogue with our African American faculty, staff, and students to guide our efforts, inform the assessment of our progress, and facilitate our ongoing improvement.

To place our efforts and direction in context, we are providing a brief overview of where we are as a College. We know there are many more unsung efforts occurring by faculty and staff in powerful ways, such as the recent Juneteenth video https://youtu.be/rnaN6tp_ZSo. As your leadership team, we want to articulate our commitment to do better, and we ask for your ideas and energy to collectively make real change.

Student Success
We remain focused on recruiting more African American students and helping these students get to the finish line and graduate. Our number of African American first-time, first-year students has increased over the last five years by 92%, the second-highest of any population behind only the Hispanic population. Student success rates have also improved. From 2013 to 2018, the first to second-year retention of the first-time, full-time African American students has increased from 44%-76%. We also saw an increase in the retention of African American transfer students from 53%-69%. Although it is wonderful to see these numbers moving in the right direction due to many successful programs and the dedicated attention of faculty and staff, we recognize the cohort sizes are comparatively small and absolutely need to continue growing. The overall numbers are still nowhere near we would like them to be. This is one of the challenges we are committed to taking on. In that regard, the Office of the President, working with Admissions & Recruitment, has been investing resources over the last three years through partnerships with Sumnu Marketing and Dr. Larry Moseley to build support and outreach efforts. We have also worked consistently with the Urban Chamber and the NAACP, among others, to better connect with the community.

Diverse Leadership, Faculty, and Staff
Another area of focus is on diverse representation at all levels of the College. Since 2016, we have made strides in increasing the diversity of the College’s leadership team. We have moved the needle on African American diversity from a dismal 0% in 2016 to now 16% with key hires in critical leadership positions.

The percentage of African American Academic Faculty has seen some growth but has remained at the same 6% level in both 2013 and 2020. Administrative faculty and classified staff have fluctuated from 14% in 2013 to 12% in 2020. We must double down on our efforts to increase our diversity. The Attracting and Engaging Diverse Faculty and Staff Subcommittee has been doing some good work in this area and we will continue to look to the Subcommittee for guidance.

Projects and Initiatives
Sankofa is a new academic program designed to support African American students in the style of Nepantla. This concept was developed last fall, and Dr. Shartriya Collier, Associate Dean in the School of Education, has been leading the effort. Although the launch date was delayed due to the COVID crisis, we are committed to securing resources to fund this program and are pleased to announce that the Rogers Foundation has agreed to help pilot the program. Everything is in motion to launch Sankofa next summer with 25 students expected to participate.

We are also incredibly excited to announce that we are working on dedicated space for the creation of a Social Justice Lab on campus. Developed through the collaboration of Dr. Chris Harris, Dr. Leila Pazargadi, Leilani Carreño, Johanna Araujo, and Phillip LaMotte, the Social Justice Lab is a space to provide a streamlined opportunity to support a social justice learning community. Stay tuned for more details.

Nevada State has been working to establish a Collegiate 100 Chapter. Collegiate 100, affiliated with the 100 Black Men of America, Inc., is designed to provide support and mentorship for African American men and women students starting college and would be only the second chapter in the west.

The “Motivated. Male. Movement.” or M3 Conference will be hosted by the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Initiatives (CEDI) again this year. The M3 Conference is a part of a broader M3 program organized by CEDI, which focuses on supporting the retention and success of men of color.

Berna Rhodes-Ford, General Counsel, is leading the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Initiative. Berna is working to develop partnerships with HBCUs to launch a student exchange program and create opportunities to host faculty at the College.

These are representative examples of our collective work in this area, but we want to accomplish much more. The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has offered a multitude of suggestions for additional things we can do. We will be looking at these recommendations, but we also want to increase our dialogue directly with African American students, faculty, and staff. The Office of the President will initiate these important conversations in the fall to make sure we are responsive to ongoing concerns, listen to great ideas for addressing these critically important issues, and transform these discussions into action.

Bart Patterson, President
Vickie Shields, Provost and Executive Vice President
Kevin Butler, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Operations
Edith Fernandez, Vice President of College and Community Engagement
Tony Scinta, Executive Vice Provost
Amber Lopez Lasater, Chief of Staff

July 6, 2020

Dear NSC Community,

NSC has been informed that an individual at the NSC nursing skills lab located at 1001 Shadow Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89106 has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was last at that location on June 25, 2020, and was confirmed as positive for COVID-19 on July 4. The individual is isolated and receiving care.

When an individual is confirmed to have COVID-19, the Southern Nevada Health District determines who they may have had close contact with and guidance is provided directly to those individuals. The Southern Nevada Health District emphasizes that those most at risk from COVID-19 include people who have had daily repeated and prolonged exposure.

The college is sending this notification out of an abundance of caution. Public health officials maintain the risk is low for people who have had brief contact with an infected individual. We ask the NSC community to continue following protocols for preventionbe aware of symptoms of COVID-19, and seek medical care when it is needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation in Nevada and throughout the country, and we will continue to share information specific to NSC through official channels, including https://nsc.edu/coronavirus/  The site includes information and announcements regarding COVID-19 impacts to campus operations, and links to information about COVID-19 from the Nevada System of Higher Education, Southern Nevada Health District and the State of Nevada. NSC will communicate confirmed cases when other members of the university community may have been exposed. Unless there are unusual circumstances, such information will be posted solely at https://nsc.edu/coronavirus/  This notification complies with the requirements under the Clery Act.

July 2, 2020

Dear Nevada State Community,

This summer, Nevada State College will continue to offer students the ability to select an S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) grading option as an alternative to our traditional letter grades. However, this option will no longer be available for students in the Fall 2020 semester. This memo defines S/U grading, provides important due dates, and explains the reasons why a student may choose to select an S/U grading option.

What is the S/U grading option?

By default, all courses use a letter grading system (A, B, C, D, or F). Due to the ongoing health crisis, all students, both undergraduate and graduate, can request to replace the letter grading system with a grade of S or U, which represent Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory.

In the S/U grading system, undergraduates are given an S if they earned a D- or higher. They are given a U if their grade would have been an F in our letter grading system. Graduate students have slightly higher standards for an S. They must earn a C- or higher to receive that grade in the course. Any grade lower than a C- will be assigned a U.

When would I need to request the S/U grading option for my summer courses?

If you are requesting an S/U grade for the first summer session, you can meet with an advisor beginning on Monday, July 6th. If you are requesting an S/U grade for the second summer session, you can meet with an advisor beginning on August 20th. The meeting with an advisor is required. The deadline to make a request for graduating students is on Monday, August 24th. If you are not graduating in the Summer, the deadline is Monday, August 31st.

Can I request to take classes with an S/U grading option in the Fall 2020 semester?

No. NSC (and all colleges in the Nevada System of Higher Education) are not extending this option for students into the fall. Notably, some classes are offered with S/U grading by default, such as independent studies. These courses will say “S/U Grading” in the catalog.

Who can help me decide if I should choose the S/U option? 

To choose the S/U option, you must talk with an advisor first.  Here’s how to contact the appropriate advisor:


  • If you are admitted into a major in the School of Education, contact Sally Starkweather at sally.starkweather@nsc.edu.
  • If you are in the RN-to-BSN program in the School of Nursing, contact Chantelle Cook at chantelle.cook@nsc.edu.
  • If you’re an undergraduate in any other program (including pre-Education and pre-Nursing students and pre-licensure Nursing students), schedule an advising appointment by visiting the advising website or by emailing aac@nsc.edu.

Graduate Students

  • If you are a graduate student in the Speech Pathology program, you must speak with the Speech Pathology Program Director. Contact Dr. Angel Ball at angel.ball@nsc.edu or 702-992-2535.

Will S/U grading affect my financial aid or scholarships?

It could. You shouldn’t choose S/U grading until you understand the consequences. If a course no longer applies to your degree program or major because of the grading change, you may be required to return funds that you already received to pay for the course. If you receive financial aid (grants, loans, etc.) or a scholarship, contact the financial aid office (finaid@nsc.edu or 702-992-2150) before you choose S/U grading.

If you have a Millennium Scholarship, you must have a GPA (based on letter grades) at the end of every semester to avoid receiving a strike.

How does the S/U grade affect my GPA? 

A grade of S or U won’t affect your GPA, as only letter grades are used to calculate your GPA. An S grade will maintain your GPA where it is, but won’t raise it.  Similarly, a U grade won’t lower your GPA, so in some cases it may be a better option than receiving an F in a class; however, you need to be sure it won’t affect your financial aid or scholarship before requesting the change. In addition, S/U grades don’t directly affect your academic standing or your status on academic warning or probation.

For pre-nursing students, an S in a pre-nursing class will be treated the same as a C when the School of Nursing reviews your application and calculates your pre-nursing GPA. You will still need to meet the program-specific minimum GPA of 3.25. Keep in mind you cannot apply to the Nursing program with an S in BIOL 223, 224, or 251.

Do I have to change all of my classes to S/U grading or can I choose one or two?

We encourage you to consider each class individually. You could change all of them, none of them, or any number in between.

Will classes I take as S/U still count toward my major?

It depends on the class. When you speak with an advisor, they will discuss the consequences of S/U grading in your classes with you.

Core Curriculum and General Electives

A grade of S in a course should count toward Core Curriculum requirements and as general electives.

Major Requirements

For classes taken in Spring 2020, S grades will also fulfill major requirements, unless your program has special licensing or accreditation requirements that make letter grades essential (though it may not fulfill some pre-requisites; see the next section). Programs where a grade of S will not fulfill coursework in the major include:

  • Master of Speech Pathology
  • All Nursing majors (pre-licensure and RN-to-BSN)
  • Pre-Nursing students cannot apply to the Nursing program with an S grade in BIOL 223, 224, or 251

Pre-Requisite Classes

In some classes, you must earn a C- or higher to move on to the next course (example: to move from CHEM 121 to CHEM 122, or from ENG 101 to ENG 102); an S grade in a pre-requisites class won’t allow you to move to the next course. If you choose S/U grading in a pre-requisites course, you will have to retake the class for a letter grade (and earn a C- or higher) to move to the next course in the series.

If I choose the S/U option, can I switch back to a letter grade later?

No. If you choose S/U grading, we aren’t able to later change it to a letter grade. Talk to an advisor to make sure S/U grading is a good choice for you. For instance, some graduate programs and medical and pharmacy schools won’t accept S/U grades in key courses; if you may want to apply to a graduate or professional program after you graduate, you need to think carefully about whether an S/U grade will create problems for your future educational or career plans.

Is S/U grading similar to an audit, where I can take a relaxed approach to classwork? 

No. An audit doesn’t award any credits for the course, while a Satisfactory (S) grade does earn you credits for the class. You are still expected to be actively engaged in the class and to complete all your assignments.

If I choose the S/U option for my class, will this hurt my application for graduate school or medical school? 

This is an unprecedented situation, and we don’t know how groups outside of NSC will view S/U grades in courses that are normally letter graded. Employers, graduate and professional schools, and internship sites will be aware of the challenges we are currently facing. But we can’t guarantee they will change any policies that require letter grades in certain courses. Your advisor will discuss the possible consequences of changing to S/U grading in a class. Ultimately, you will need to make a decision that you feel is best for you given your current situation and your future educational and career goals.

How does the S/U option impact the Dean’s List and President’s List?

For Spring 2020, you must complete 6 letter-graded credits (instead of the usual 12) and meet the GPA requirement to be on the Dean’s or President’s List. Students who have only S/U graded courses (and no GPA for Spring 2020) are not eligible for either list.