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The Case for Shuttering Nevada State College

On Monday’s Face to Face with Jon Ralston, the guest was Dr. Lesley Di Mare, president of the Nevada State College – a campus that many people objected to creating back in the early 2000s, but was pretty much legislatively shoved down our collective throats by then-Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins.

In the interview, Jon asked Dr. Di Mare how the state would be hurt if NSC was closed. “The students who fall between a 2.0 and 3.0 GPA (grade point average),” she replied, “would really have no place to go for a four-year degree program.”

Well, excuse me. If a student isn’t smart enough for higher education and/or hasn’t applied themselves sufficiently to earn grades high enough to attend UNLV, why is it the obligation of the taxpayers to provide a “remedial” four-year college for those students?

I mean, if you accept Dr. Di Mare’s premise, then shouldn’t taxpayers also fund a “college” for students whose GPA is UNDER 2.0, as well? In the interest of universal access, of course. Seriously, when does personal responsibility and academic ability come into play here?

Later, Jon pointed out that NSC was sold to taxpayers as a college that would specialize in nursing and teaching, two skill sets in great demand at the time. To which Dr. Di Mare responded, “You’d be surprised at the growing numbers and variety of other degrees that we have.”

In other words, as in all things governmental, mission creep.

NSC wasn’t satisfied with fulfilling its stated mission. Now it’s expanding into all kinds of other areas….and taxpayers are expected to pay for it. That’s simply not right.

When asked about NSC offering similar coursework as is offered at nearby UNLV, Dr. Di Mare again pointed out that less academically proficient students can’t get into UNLV, and then raised the notion that students who can afford NSC can’t afford UNLV.

First, as has been pointed out numerous time, Nevada’s higher ed tuition rates are among the lowest in the land. In addition, Nevada students who performed academically well in high school get, I believe, up to $10,000 in tuition subsidies from the Guinn Millennium Scholarships…not counting all the other scholarships and tuition assistance available out there.

And secondly, again I ask why taxpayers should be funding a cheap, remedial college for students whose academic abilities don’t qualify them for the rigors of a liberal education at UNLV?

Indeed, at the end of the interview, Dr. Di Mare committed what is classically referred to as a gaffe in political circles – when you inadvertently tell an inconvenient truth. “Has the tuition in the system here been artificially low for too long”? Jon asked. To which the good doctor replied, “I would say that it probably has.”

So if you’re an academically underperforming student who can’t afford to attend a real university despite tuition being too low, and want to pursue a degree for four years that has nothing to do with what is supposed to be the school’s core mission, all with healthy subsidies by Nevada’s taxpayers, Nevada State College just might be right up your alley.

Why, it’s a radio spot that darn near writes itself.