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.
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