Nevada colleges look to streamline associate degree offerings

A few associate degrees in the applied sciences are almost impractical now­adays and could be of little or no use to students, college officials said.

That goes for two-year degrees in land surveying and geomatics and in computer and office technology.

Those fields are beginning to cease to exist because of technological and industry changes, officials said.

Because of that, college officials are trying to refocus their resources on more updated, vibrant and practical programs.

“The old days of surveying crews, looking through optics and rating the elevation, those days are gone,” said Michael Spangler, dean of the school of advanced and applied technologies at the College of Southern Nevada.

Three two-year colleges in Nevada are asking to eliminate at least one program with a history of low enrollment. Western Nevada College also is asking for approval to eliminate several fields of study in arts and sciences to consolidate degree programs.

The proposed changes will go before the Board of Regents this week. The items are listed for possible action on the agenda for the Thursday-Friday meeting at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Elimination of some programs could result in job losses for a few part-time instructors, but no full-time faculty or students would be impacted, officials said.

CSN’s program in land surveying and geomatics is outdated, and student enrollment is simply not there anymore, said Darren Divine, the college’s vice president for academic affairs.

“With increases of technology, you are not seeing the need for some of those skills anymore,” he said.

The college could have tried to revive the program, but it wouldn’t have been efficient, Divine said. Great Basin College in Elko offers a much more updated program, and students are able to take many of the courses online.

There has been a push by the Nevada System of Higher Education for colleges to clean up their catalogs by identifying low-enrollment programs, those that overlap with other colleges or those that could be combined, especially if courses can be taken online, Divine said.

Connie Capurro, vice president of academic and student affairs at Western Nevada College in Carson City, said the school’s associate of applied science in computer office technology hasn’t been attracting many students in the last couple of years.

“It could be that there are other programs that are more interesting to students,” she said. “Technology is forever changing.”

Western Nevada College will consolidate fields of study in musical theater, fine arts and criminal justice into associate of arts degrees. It will consolidate computer science, physics, mathematics and chemistry, among others, into an associate of science.

“Eliminating the programs in no way will eliminate the courses,” she said. “It will provide a higher level of flexibility.”

For example, she said, when students major in chemistry, they don’t necessarily want to transfer to a four-year college and major in the same field. Some may go into pre-medicine or nursing.

No faculty will be impacted, Capurro said, since the number of courses wouldn’t change.

Jane Nichols, interim vice president for academic affairs at Truckee Meadows Community College, said the college is proposing to eliminate its landscape architecture program, which is a transfer program to UNLV’s landscape architecture and planning program, for a few reasons: It has low enrollment, it’s not effective because not many students are willing to commit to move to Las Vegas for their last two years of education, and it doesn’t give students options.

Since 2002, only six students have graduated.

“It never attracted enough students to keep it open,” Nichols said. “It’s not a program designed to lead directly to employment.”

Contact Yesenia Amaro at or 702-383-0440.