86°F
weather icon Clear

Nevada education officials dismiss Trump policy, citing importance of diversity

A new Trump administration policy that would allow colleges to take a race-neutral approach in the admissions process runs counter to the route taken by Nevada’s higher education institutions, local education officials say.

The policy announced on Tuesday rescinds Obama-era guidance that encouraged schools to take a student’s race into account in order to promote diversity in admissions.

But diversity is celebrated on Nevada’s college campuses.

“We’re a majority-minority system,” said Thom Reilly, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. “We’re proud of our diversity. It reflects our state. It’s incredibly important, and we’re committed to that at all levels.”

Last September, UNLV climbed to the top of an ethnic diversity ranking by U.S. News & World Report, tying for first place with two other universities. And in the two years prior, UNLV was No. 2 on the same list.

All of NSHE’s southern schools — UNLV, Nevada State College and the College of Southern Nevada — are considered Hispanic Serving Institutions, meaning that at least 25 percent of the student body is Latino. Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno holds the same designation.

And across the seven-degree conferring institutions in NSHE, more than half of the students enrolled identify as being from a diverse background.

“In some ways, the Department of Education is coming at it from the wrong direction,” said Bart Patterson, president of Nevada State College. “Diversity of experiences, diversity of ideas can be valuable in education and workplaces.”

Nevada State College, however, does not use race in its admissions criteria, Patterson said. Neither do the other colleges in the system.

Tuesday’s action by the Trump administration comes amid a high-profile court fight over admission at Harvard University as well as Supreme Court turnover expected to produce a more critical eye toward schools’ affirmative action policies. The high court’s most recent significant ruling on the subject bolstered colleges’ use of race among many factors in the college admission process. But the opinion’s author, Anthony Kennedy, announced his retirement last week.

The new policy would depart from the stance taken by the Obama administration, which in 2011 said schools have a “compelling interest” in ensuring a diverse student body. The guidance said that while race should not be the primary factor in an admission decision, schools could lawfully consider it in the interest of achieving diversity.

In addition to accepting minority students, Reilly said Nevada schools are committed to seeing them succeed. Closing the achievement gap between white and minority students is one of five new goals recently adopted by the system.

“We really do judge ourselves on who we’re including and not who we’re excluding,” he said. “And not priding ourselves on selecting a few.”

Reilly said NSHE is also focused on increasing access to higher education in a state that is ranked at the bottom for the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who choose to go directly to college following high school graduation.

“Education is the great equalizer, and the pathway to social mobility,” Reilly said. “We want more.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
THE LATEST
County commission cautiously open to working with school district

The Clark County Commission on Thursday signaled a cautious willingness to partner with the Clark County School District on education initiatives that would be funded through a potential quarter-percent sales tax, but stressed the need for accountability, information and easier public access to school grounds.

UNR dorms damaged in blast to remain closed for 1-2 years

Both dormitories damaged in a natural gas explosion at the University of Nevada, Reno, will stay closed for at least a year and one won’t reopen until the fall of 2021.