MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF
THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO EXAMINE LOCATING
A 4-YEAR STATE COLLEGE IN HENDERSON
A meeting of the Advisory Committee to Examine Locating a 4-Year State College in Henderson (created as a result of Assembly Bill 220 - 1999) was held at 1:30 p.m. on November 9, 1999, at the Community College of Southern Nevada, 6375 West Charleston, Building D, Room 152, Las Vegas, Nevada.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
Senator Jon C. Porter – via telephone conference
Regent Howard Rosenberg
Regent Mark Alden
Assemblyman Richard D. Perkins, Chairman
Mayor James B. Gibson (Excused)
Mark Stevens, Assembly Fiscal Analyst
Joi Davis, Committee Secretary
GUESTS IN ATTENDANCE:
Jim Randolph, University and Community College System of Nevada
Steven Horsford, R&R Advertising
Tamela Gorden, University and Community College System of Nevada
Sherwin Iverson, University and Community College System of Nevada
Steve Soukup, University of Phoenix
Regent Steve Sisolak, University and Community College System of Nevada
Bob Kasner, Paragon Asset Management Company
Regent Jill Derby, University and Community College System of Nevada
Jane Nichols, University and Community College System of Nevada
Tom Anderes, University and Community College System of Nevada
Joyce Haldeman, Clark County School District
Richard Wilkie, City of Henderson
Rick Bennett, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Bob Cooper, City of Henderson
Jerry Fing, Las Vegas Sun
Exhibit A Meeting Notice and Agenda
Exhibit B Attendance Roster
Exhibit C Meeting Packet
NOTE: All Exhibits are on file at the Research Library and Fiscal Analysis Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
Chairman Perkins indicated he would accept a motion for approval of the minutes (Exhibit C, Meeting Packet) if no changes were noted.
REGENT ROSENBERG MOVED TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE
OCTOBER 1, 1999, MEETING.
REGENT ALDEN SECONDED THE MOTION.
THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY BY THOSE PRESENT.
Presentation by Dr. Sandra Elman on Accreditation Requirements for Higher Education Institutions
Chairman Perkins welcomed Dr. Sandra Elman, Director of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.
Dr. Elman thanked the Committee for the invitation to present information on accreditation, and indicated her remarks would be brief so that she could answer questions from the Committee.
Dr. Elman said the Commission on Colleges of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges is the regional accrediting body for colleges and universities in the northwest. They accredit institutions in the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Alaska. Dr. Elman informed the Committee that regional accreditation has two fundamental functions: quality assurance, and continuous improvement.
Dr. Elman asserted that consideration of the role of regional accreditation is important to consider when contemplating a new institution. She indicated there were three characteristics that make Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges unique:
1. They are a non-governmental agency. However, the Commission on Colleges is recognized by the United States Department of Education (DOE) to accredit institutions in the states mentioned. The Commission on Colleges, in a way, performs their work on behalf of the DOE.
2. They are a voluntary association. Dr. Elman qualified that comment by adding that if an institution was not accredited, it would not be eligible for federal funding.
3. A peer review process is utilized. Dr. Elman explained that institution evaluation reviews are conducted by peers from accredited, higher education institutions.
Dr. Elman advised the Committee that the Commission on Colleges includes 26 individuals, to which she is an ex-officio member. The 26 members are presidents, faculty, provosts, and individuals from accredited institutions who hold positions in the northwest region, included public, private, 4-year and 2-year institutions. In addition, as mandated by the DOE, there are four public members who have no affiliation with a higher education institution, and there are two members from institutions from adjoining regions. Dr. Elman said commissioners from Nevada are Dr. Ron Remmington, President of Great Basin College (GBC), and Dr. Barbara Cloud, faculty member from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
Continuing, Dr. Elman shared her personal observations when institutions undergo the accreditation process.
Ø Effective, meticulous, and careful planning is essential to positive outcomes.
Ø Planning and budgeting should be linked;
Ø Projections, financial and otherwise, should be based on realistic assumptions about what condition the financial and human resources for the state and the institution will be in one year, three years, in five years, and to the extent possible, ten years;
Ø Environmental scanning is needed. This includes carefully conducted analyses of market forces, student projections, faculty needs and availability, staff and administrative needs, and projected availability.
Ø Determine roles of the existing institutions in the state.
Dr. Elman went on to discuss responses to frequently asked questions regarding accreditation.
Dr. Elman said the length of the accreditation process depends on several factors. For instance, accreditation is contingent upon whether or not the emerging institution meets the eligibility requirements compiled by the Commission on Colleges and contained in the Handbook for Accreditation. The 25 eligibility requirements are the “gate-keeping” factors (Exhibit C, pages 21-24) that help a regional accrediting commission determine whether an institution seeking accreditation is eligible to become a higher education institution. All accredited institutions have met the eligibility requirements, and continue to meet the standards for accreditation.
Dr. Elman said that from the time an institution becomes a candidate for accreditation, it takes approximately five years to become an accredited institution. However, when the Governors of Utah and Colorado in 1996 wanted to open the Western Governor’s University, the institution met all the eligibility requirements within two years.
Senator Porter asked if the law school accreditation process currently underway at UNLV would take five years. Dr. Elman said it would not take five years for the law school to become accredited since it was already a part of an accredited institution.
Secondly, Senator Porter asked if the 5-year timeframe was simply to gather information and the actual approval period took longer. Dr. Elman said the five year approximation included both. She explained that when an institution is granted candidacy status, the Commission on Colleges expects that the institution will continue to progress to meet all the standards for accreditation within the time period.
Regent Rosenberg asked whether there was a difference in the period of eligibility to final granting of accreditation. Dr. Elman stated there was a finite period of time from which the institution became a candidate after it has passed the eligibility requirement stage, to the time in which it is initially accredited. The DOE mandates that an institution must do that within five years.
Regent Alden directed the Committee to number 22 of the 25 eligibility requirements (Exhibit C, page23) that states, “It has completed at least one year of its principal educational programs and has students actively pursuing these programs at the time of the Commission evaluation.” He asked if an accredited institution existing within the UCCSN system developed a college in Henderson, with the first two years of the student’s education obtained at the junior college, and the second two years UNLV, could that be framed to be the initial model for the new college, thereby reducing the five-year timeframe?
Dr. Elman replied that if Henderson State College existed and enrolled students, early in the process an institution within the system would become the sponsoring institution for the new institution. In other states, choosing the sponsoring institution depends on what the new institution seeks to offer. In other words, if Henderson State College was seeking a 2-year degree, then the sponsoring institution could be a 2-year institution. Likewise, if the new college granted 4-year degrees or beyond, it would need to be affiliated with a 4-year institution, and the sponsoring institution becomes responsible for the new college.
Senator Porter asked if an existing school in the UCCSN wanted to become part of the new state college, whether the accreditation process had to be initiated all over again. Dr. Elman replied that if accreditation had already been received, the process would not start all over for an existing college moving to the state college. However, there would be a substantive change in policy and procedure because the college would be changing its scope and mission. On the other hand, if an existing college (i.e., College of Education or College of Architecture) transferred to Henderson State College during the time the state college was seeking accreditation, the Commission on Colleges would discourage the institution from taking on that endeavor at that time, and would propose that the institution wait.
Chairman Perkins commented that a new college would not need to duplicate a particular service in order to commence the candidacy and secure a sponsoring institution in order to initiate the accreditation process. Dr. Elman agreed; Henderson State College could be established with its mission, the degree level to be offered, and the sponsoring institution. There are also private institutions that do not have a sponsoring institution. However, students at those institutions would not be eligible for federal financial aid. Dr. Elman stated that whether a new institution is private or public, the accreditation process is the same and Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges works with each institution in the same fashion and in accordance with the handbook.
Regent Rosenberg said that if the Board of Regents authorized Henderson State College and they developed a mission statement and had a sponsor, could UNLV and the Community College of Southern Nevada (CCSN) still offer their same courses? In other words, could there be a “phase-in” period for offering classes at UNLV and CCSN until Henderson was accredited? Dr. Elman said that would be fine if the institutions were offering the courses on their own. However, she would need to see actual documentation to confirm that scenario.
Jill Derby, UCCSN Board of Regents, said that the fact that an institution was not yet accredited but had a sponsoring institution did not mean it could not offer courses or enroll students. Dr. Elman said that was correct. Mrs. Derby said that another scenario could be that CCSN and UNLV continued to offer courses, and then Henderson State College begins to offer courses, with accreditation appearing some five years down the road under the umbrella of a sponsoring institution. Dr. Elman said that was definitely possible.
Mrs. Derby asked what occurred if the first graduating class from Henderson State College arrived, but the college was not yet accredited. In other words, who grants the degree, and how would the degree be authorized? Dr. Elman replied that the degree would ultimately be granted by Henderson State College and the students would be receiving financial aid through the auspices of the sponsoring institution.
Senator Porter posed another hypothetical situation: Suppose the Board of Regents determined that certain colleges at UNLV and/or UNR would be better suited at the Henderson State College; could that be a possibility for immediate accreditation? Dr. Elman commented that it was not likely that faculty and students at an already accredited institution would wish to move to a non-accredited institution. Acknowledging Dr. Elman’s comments, Senator Porter asked whether a new state college could automatically become accredited simply by moving an existing, accredited college into their program. Dr. Elman replied that was not possible because accrediting associations, specifically the Commission on Colleges, deal with the entire institution, not just programmatic accreditation.
Regent Alden asserted that mission statements between existing institutions vary substantially, and accreditation was a major focus on the mission of an institution. So, the educational product could be delivered to students in Henderson while having UNLV act as the sponsoring institution. So, if similar classes were offered at both the granting institution and the sponsoring institution, could the process of accreditation be expedited? Dr. Elman said that would not be the case.
Continuing, Dr. Elman said another concern of an institution seeking accreditation was deciding what constitutes the degree they plan to offer, whether faculty with the appropriate qualifications is available, and whether the degrees can be offered in a reasonable amount of time.
Dr. Elman indicated that the Commission on Colleges had the following concerns when granting accreditation:
Ø The institution must have a clearly-defined mission
Ø Library, Information Resources
Dr. Elman stressed that the sponsoring institution must agree to act in that capacity. That is not the role of regional accreditation. It is a heavy burden to be a sponsoring institution because they are responsible for what is occurring at their own institution, but they also become responsible for the activities of the other institution. She explained that a sponsoring institution must follow the substantive change process, and would be engaged in a contractual relationship with a non-regionally accredited agency.
Dr. Elman said there were three stages to the accreditation process:
Dr. Elman noted that the DOE often turns to regional accrediting associations and asks why termination does not occur more frequently. She said termination is not necessary because the regional accreditation process is difficult. Once candidacy is granted, the Commission is basically assuring the institution that they will work with them to move from the candidacy status to initial accreditation. She said the initial phase has to be rigorous because the Commission is looking out for all 154 institutions that Northwest presently accredits.
Chairman Perkins thanked Dr. Elman for appearing before the Committee and educating them on the accreditation process. He indicated that the Committee might have additional questions as they review the handouts on accreditation (Exhibit C), and he hoped she would be available in the future to answer questions. Dr. Elman indicated she would be available to answer questions.
Chairman Perkins pointed out that questions by Senator Porter at the last committee meeting have been answered and were contained in the meeting packet (Exhibit C, page 29). He asked the Committee if any follow-up was needed. Senator Porter said he had additional inquiries for the Regents but he would discuss it with them at a later time.
Regent Alden asked for enrollment figures for CCSN, UNLV and the CCSN, Henderson campus as well as a list of courses the students at those institutions were taking. Dr. Nichols confirmed that the UCCSN was compiling that data.
Chairman Perkins asked Dr. Elman how many new institutions had applied for accreditation in the past five years, and how many of those have obtained accreditation. Dr. Elman replied that approximately eight or nine institutions have applied for accreditation, and probably three or four have obtained accreditation. Chairman Perkins asked if the names of those institutions could be provided to the Committee so they could contact them to avoid possible pitfalls. Dr. Elman indicated that information could be provided.
Senator Porter asked whether students graduating from the new Henderson college after five years, would be receiving an accredited degree, even though they attended the college for four or five years while it was not accredited. Dr. Elman said the students would receive an accredited degree because the college would have been determined to be a candidate of accreditation and receives initial accreditation at the fifth year.
Upon further discussion, Dr. Elman confirmed that the students attending the college before it has received accreditation would still receive a degree from an accredited institution. She said the issue usually comes to light when a student transfers credits from one institution to another institution. However, the institution receiving the application from the student will note at the time of review that the institution the student attended ultimately received accreditation and that the student attended the facility during the time of its candidacy.
Chairman Perkins asked whether students could “fall through the cracks” in terms of them completing their program and then not receiving recognition for attending an accredited institution. Regent Rosenberg added that it could occur for a student transferring after only two years, especially if transferring credits out-of-state. He noted that transferring credits within the state system likely would not pose a problem, but transferring to another state could be difficult. Dr. Elman replied that it was up to the receiving institution to determine whether credits should be accepted. Unfortunately, higher education institutions often suffer from a lack of articulation agreements. For instance, in the state of Massachusetts the 4-year institutions and 2-year institutions do not always accept credits from each other, even though they are within the same state.
Senator Porter commented that a similar problem was present in our state between UNR and UNLV, in certain respects. Chairman Perkins asked Dr. Nichols to comment. Dr. Nichols related that the Board of Regents passed a policy that all programs between the two universities will have articulated agreements with the community colleges within the state, and that there will be a way for a student to start at a community college and finish a 4-year degree within four years, just as though they started at a university. In addition, an expectation has been established within the Nevada Revised Statutes that a course taken at a community college would never have to be repeated just because a student transfers within the system. The UCCSN continues to work to improve the process. Dr. Nichols conceded that occasionally there were problems with students transferring within the system because the two universities have different graduation requirements and different requirements within each program. So, a student transferring between the two universities may have to complete additional courses to obtain the degree.
Senator Porter asked whether similar problems occurred with students transferring in from the community colleges into the universities, within the state system. Dr. Nichols reiterated that all institutions should be commended for the progress that has been made in the past three years on that issue. In fact, the UCCSN has placed on their website information for all students on courses that transfer and the program matches on what courses should be taken at CCSN if a student wishes to transfer to ULNV. The policy is in place and the faculty is working hard to improve the transfer system. At their last meeting, the Board of Regents implemented a calling-course numbering system that will also help.
Senator Porter asked if there was a College of Education at the new state college, would there be a problem if a graduate from within the first four years wished to work in a school district in the state. Dr. Nichols replied that the state had a teacher education approval process that was controlled by the State Board of Education, and any program created in the state to produce teachers must meet the criteria and be approved by that process.
Chairman Perkins asked Dr. Elman to comment on the “minimal level” for accreditation, specifically inquiring if there was more than a minimum level or a sliding scale was recognized for various levels of an institution’s efforts. Dr. Elman replied that there was a minimal level, but they hoped that institutions would reach the optimal level. She indicated the minimal level was the “floor” and all institutions were expected to meet that floor. She reminded the Committee that the Commission on Colleges was interested in quality assurance and continuous improvement. Chairman Perkins asked if the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges defined anything other than a minimal level. Dr. Elman said no, and reiterated that it was hopeful that institutions would go beyond the minimal level.
Regent Alden reiterated his request for enrollment figures for UNLV programs at the Henderson campus of CCSN. Regent Derby said that at the last meeting of the Committee, staff prepared a good presentation that contained information on enrollment figures and that would be helpful to supply to the other Board members, and a good evaluation of the needs assessment for a college in Henderson was performed and that answered many questions.
Regent Rosenberg said there were approximately 20 courses offered by UNLV in Henderson and he would like to know what the enrollment was, how successful the program was, and what student demand was, so they can determine the focus of students in that area.
Regent Alden mentioned that he was recently informed that enrollment at the Henderson campus has increased. Therefore, more detailed information on what classes those students are taking and class offerings would be helpful. Chairman Perkins mentioned that Dr. Nichols might wish to offer an opinion, from a system standpoint, as to student need, including the marketing of those courses.
Regent Alden asked whether both CCSN and UNLV were advertising and making other marketing efforts to let residents know classes were available in Henderson. Dr. Richard Moore, President, CCSN, said there was extensive promotion of those classes and there has been an approximate 20 percent increase in students on the Henderson campus. He added that there is a much stronger evening enrollment at the CCSN Henderson campus compared to the Las Vegas campus.
Rick Bennett, Director of Government Relations, UNLV, said in addition to regular advertising of course offerings, there have been notices and stories in the newspaper; however, to the extent that those have appeared, he is not aware. Regent Alden asked that the information on marketing be supplied to the Committee and the Board of Regents.
Chairman Perkins mentioned that although the Committee has made reference to the new institution being “Henderson State College,” it will truly be a Southern Nevada institution, and will not be restricted solely for Henderson students. It will be designed to add a “third tier” of higher education institution in Nevada, if that is the process the Committee and the Board of Regents choose to take.
There was no public testimony. Chairman Perkins asked that the Committee review the Committee meeting packet for the next meeting on November 16, 1999, and bring any comments and questions to the Chairman or Dr. Nichols so that they can be brought forth at the next meeting. In addition, at the next meeting, the Committee will take a look at the timeline for future Committee meetings in conjunction with the scheduled meetings of the Board of Regents.
There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was adjourned at 2:40 p.m.
Joi Davis, Committee Secretary
Assemblyman Richard D. Perkins, Chairman