Dear Nevada State College Community,
I’m writing to you from the annual American Association of State Colleges and Universities conference in Florida – more on this topic next week! Though I’ve received the message that the videos are more appreciated than written communications, I thought it best to remain consistent in connecting—even if in writing—while I am away.
Last week marked week twelve for me at Nevada State, and I’m overjoyed and so appreciative of how well my first few months have gone. My journey to become a Scorpion thus far has been rich, profound, and intentional. I had the opportunity to meet with my Transition Advisory Committee last Thursday. We talked about the salary study and I explored with them my potentially recommending to the Board of Regents and Chancellor a name change—not a mission change—to Nevada State’s name from College to University. I also shared some of the common themes that I am thinking about as we draw closer to my State of the College and inauguration in January.
As I continue my journey, I have been able to engage with faculty, students and staff through my Listen and Learn Sessions. Last week, I had two sessions where I met with a group of directors and managers and library faculty and staff. Each and every one of these sessions has been particularly insightful. I greatly value the experience, perspective and vision of everyone who has participated thus far. Additionally, key staff held a Scholarships Boot Camp for me. The session helped me better understand how our current scholarships are structured—both intentions and opportunities. We brainstormed and dreamed about how we can structure and promote our scholarship opportunities to maximize student success.
In the same spirit of dreaming of how the college will continue to evolve, I met with our Human Resources Director, Eric Gilliland, to start to map the intentional next steps that we need to take in order to make Nevada State an employer of choice. This discussion followed our action-packed Virtual Town Hall. Our panel talked about a myriad of topics including our valiant Back and Bold Employee Engagement Campaign and COVID vaccinations. A big thank you to all the behind-the-scenes staff that make the production happen. You can find a copy of a campus-wide memo I issued with more detail on the Back and Bold initiatives and my expectations here.
Balancing internal and external learning and networking continued as I had the opportunity to attend a welcome reception for Chancellor Rose hosted by Jan Jones. Many of you may know that Jan served as a two-term mayor of the City of Las Vegas, worked in a key leadership role at Caesars Entertainment, and has a long history of being a strong advocate for K-12 and higher education. I also attended my first Nevada State College Foundation board meeting. It was wonderful to see our advancement team in action and interact with members of our board. These committed individuals hold a critically important role to help raise dollars that assist us in executing our audacious mission and serve as vital surrogates for the college in the community.
As a result of these experiences this past week, let me share a few questions I am working through as I make this turn into the second half of my first semester at NS:
• How do we ensure that our HSI, MSI, and AANAPISI status is more than a noun naming us but a verb that reflects our intentional actions, decisions, and direction as an organization?
• What organizational structure supports our future growth and development as a college? How do we align and innovate in this space?
• Is our governance system structured and positioned to share in the work of organizational development and policy development?
• Are there voices and experiences from whom I have not heard that are essential to my sense-making of NS?
• How do we connect and amplify a compelling message about the value-proposition of NS as we approach our 20th anniversary in a moment of instability and public questioning of the value and role of postsecondary education?
A Few Closing Thoughts:
As I’ve shared previously, November is my favorite month for so many reasons. And my goodness do I have so much to be grateful for this year! My family, my home, our college, my colleagues, our students…this mission we’ve accepted. My ask of you this week is to take some time and make some space to be forward thinking to the future. Dream about all the possibilities and think big. Try to tamp down some of the immediate ‘why not’ narrative that inevitably tries to interrupt you. Choose to stay grounded in positivity. I’m committed to listening and learning—exploring and creating—and I invite you to co-conspire with me. I need that and I value it more than you will ever know.
Finally, I want to personally thank all our veterans, their families, and loved ones for their military service. My father was a Vietnam-era veteran, and he taught me about service, patriotism, and loyalty—and the right to be both a loving critic and a proud protector of our country. In addition to your bravery and courage, your service to our country required incredible sacrifice. This week, and always, we honor you. Thank you.
Dr. DeRionne Pollard