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Nevada State College to give update on proposed name change

Updated November 30, 2022 - 7:01 am

Nevada State College delivered an update to higher education regents at its quarterly meeting Wednesday about a proposed name change that was postponed this year.

College officials say a name change to “Nevada State University” would benefit the school by boosting enrollment, eliminating confusion among employers, raising pay for graduates and helping to facilitate the state’s economic growth.

But in September, regents voted unanimously to postpone considering a name change until this month.

Nevada State College President DeRionne Pollard provided an update to the board Wednesday and said that the school could pursue a name change with its accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, only after the name change was approved by the Board of Regents.

“Your action is necessary to proceed forward with the commission,” Pollard said.

The item before regents on Wednesday was “information only,” and no action was taken.

Nevada State College opened in 2002 in Henderson and has more than 7,200 students. It offers mostly bachelor’s degrees but has a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

If the Board of Regents approves a name change, the request would be submitted to the commission, where a three-member peer panel would review it. It would take an estimated two to four months to go through the process, according to meeting materials posted online.

“This is not a change in mission, but rather a recognition of a series of changes that have occurred and have been approved for Nevada State over the last several years,” Pollard said.

The accrediting agency also recommended notifying the U.S. Department of Education of the name change after Board of Regents approval, according to meeting materials.

An October letter from the commission to Pollard, which was posted with online meeting materials, described the changing of a school’s name is considered a “major change.”

Pollard previously told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the school would issue new transcripts and diplomas to graduates — a cost the school would cover using private donations — with the new name.

But the letter from the commission said that is not allowed. That is because “the degrees awarded previously were under the previous institution name and, in many cases, different missions and degree requirements,” according to the letter.

When questioned by Regent Patrick Boylan about the reissuing of diplomas, Pollard affirmed Wednesday that the new university could not mass produce and reissue certificates, diplomas or transcripts to students. But if a student requested a new diploma or transcript, the university could provide them on an individual basis.

The state’s higher education system office is working on a memorandum that includes a list of handbook changes that would be needed if the college’s name change is approved.

“The options for changes are intended to ensure that policy and procedures applicable to the research universities are not construed to apply to a newly named Nevada State University,” meeting materials say.

The system also says state law changes would be needed to avoid effects on employee salaries, student tuition and admissions requirements.

Pollard said Wednesday that she would present options to the regents at its next meeting on the best way to implement the renaming of the college but said that the college had secured at least one potential bill sponsor to submit a bill draft request to the Legislature on its behalf.

Following questions about a name change’s impact on student financial federal aid, Pollard said the college confirmed with the Department of Education that the change would have no impact on Title IV participation.

But Regent Jason Geddes said that a bill draft request was not law and would still be contingent upon approval from the governor and both chambers of the Legislature.

Geddes said that questions remained about what a name change would mean for the college under the state’s funding formula and how faculty salaries might change.

“I’m a firm supporter of making this change and I think it’s the right thing to do, but I just think we need to do it in a timely manner,” Geddes said.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter. Contact Lorraine Longhi at 702-387-5298 or llonghi@reviewjournal.com. Follow her at @lolonghi on Twitter.

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