The pandemic turned Bart Patterson’s victory lap into the busiest year of his tenure as president of Nevada State College.
After nearly a decade on the job, Patterson announced in March that he would retire in June 2021, at the end of the academic year.
Patterson told State of Nevada that instead of a “ride into the sunset” in his final year, he needed to address the fallout from COVID-19.
“It’s not, obviously, just a health crisis,” he said, “It’s a fiscal crisis for the state and higher education.”
He said the college curtailed hiring in the face of state budget cuts and worked to take its course offerings online.
Patterson said the financial challenges facing Nevada make additional state spending on higher education unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Instead, he would like his successor to consider inviting tech and healthcare companies and other appropriate businesses onto the 500-acre campus. There they could develop collaborative ventures and be an employment pipeline for the college.
Nevada State has seen surging enrollment since Patterson became president eight years ago, more than doubling in the last five years alone. Today its student population is 7,100 and its first campus housing is scheduled to open next week.
According to Patterson, in the state’s higher education structure, the four-year college on the Boulder City side of Henderson fits between community colleges and the big research institutions, UNLV and UNR.