Now that he has been in office for two full semesters at the University of Nevada, Reno, President Milt Glick is revealing his true colors ... as he continues to reveal his vision for the future of the University.
"I know people are saying, 'What's he thinking about?'" Glick said. "I'm trying to be as transparent as possible."
In numerous campus appearances, Glick has made it clear that he doesn't like of the older motels between Nevada's campus and downtown Reno. He would like to see the area revitalized.
He's a firm believer that busy minds make for better students, hence his continued emphasis that Nevada's students need to increase their average course load from 12 credits to 15.
He believes that Nevada's students are the primary reason why the University exists.
And although this final point may not sound revolutionary, Glick did take time during a two-hour Town Hall Meeting with the University's classified employees in the ASUN Auditorium on Monday to note that, "If we can reinforce the notion that these people (students) pay our salaries, that they are the reason why we are here, that there is no me, no you, it goes a long way to building a vibrant and sticky campus, one we can all be proud of."
Glick reiterated his keys to the future, also shared at previous Town Hall meetings:
- Increase student success, which is measured by improved graduation and retention rates and increased diversity.
- Increase research capacity/quality.
- Increase service to the community and to the state, which Glick believes will "blur the boundary" between the University and the community.
- Accomplish more and do all of the above as the institution grows.
For one of the first times since he began making his presentation, entitled, "Perceptions and Opportunities: Thinking Out Loud," Glick shared some specific thresholds that he would like the campus to meet by 2012.
Highlighting the vision: an improvement in the six-year graduation rate of 60 percent; a retention rate of 85 percent; increased diversity that reflects the state's population; vibrant campus which would be seen as a destination "of choice for the region's best ... while remaining populist"; among the top 70 public institutions in the country for research capacity/quality; home to 25,000 students; economic anchor for the region.
"We're starting as a very solid, a very good institution," Glick said. "I came here, though, because I believe people here believe it could be a lot better."
For the 150 or so individuals attending Monday, which was sponsored by the Staff Employees' Council, perhaps the most important take-away message was this: that the classified staff is one of the critical building blocks in establishing a vibrant campus culture.
"For many of our students, staff are our first and best contact," Glick said. "Anything you can do to reinforce this idea that students are very important to all of us ... is something that is very important to me. Staff on this campus are terrific that way."
Regarding student success, Glick emphasized a number of points. He said that the University needed to provide more financial aid, particularly need-based financial aid.
"We also need to make sure that the classes our students need are available, and that we have more faculty available to teach them," he said, noting that he will be meeting with the University's deans to develop a strategy to make this happen.
Staffing, he said, was an important consideration for all of the campus. He used the new Knowledge Center as a possible cautionary tale.
"We're going to have the best damn library in the universe, but the bigger question is, are we going to have anyone to actually staff it?" he asked. He said that goals such as increasing research capacity would come not without pitfalls: "We know research costs money and that will put a burden on everyone in this room."
Turning his attention to questions from the audience, Glick said that during his nine and a half months at Nevada, he was genuinely impressed with the feedback he had received about the campus' classified staff.
"Whenever I talk to students about their experience here, as often as I get the name of Professor Hoop-Tee-Doop, I get the names of staff members who were extremely helpful to these students."
Questions from the audience were varied, and lively.
Among the highlights:
Frank Fanelli, an audio visual technician from Teaching and Learning Technologies, was playing the dual role of audience member and audio visual technician for the event on Monday. The gray-haired, distinguished looking Fanelli began his question by noting that he was a father of six. "President Glick, I have a question for you," he said.
Glick, jokingly wide-eyed, and letting the fact that Fanelli was a father of six settle in for a moment, quickly interjected, "A father of six? Frank, do I have a question for you."
Once the laughter from the audience died down, Fanelli's question was well-received by the audience. It centered on why classified employees do not receive a tuition waiver for their dependents, as faculty do.
Glick said he wasn't sure why that benefit wasn't offered.
"It would be a way to keep classified staff closer to the University, as well as a way to retain our classified staff," he said. "I agree with you. I'd like to put it on the (a Board of Regents agenda). Let me look into it. When I first came here, I was surprised to learn that staff do not receive a similar benefit (as faculty)."
Regarding how he would increase research capacity while also increasing faculty teaching, Glick said one of the keys was in understanding how the institution currently handles faculty teaching load.
"Anecdotally, I've found that our faculty teach equal or more hours each week (compared to other institutions), but that we teach fewer students," he said, noting that answer could be in the campus' lack of large lecture halls. Then he added, smiling, "For me, if I were going to teach a course, I'd teach at Mackay Stadium. If I'm going to the trouble of preparing a lesson, I want a helluva audience. None of this four students in a classroom."
On how Glick planned to emphasize to incoming students that they were better off taking 15 rather than 12 credits, Glick suggested that the University needs to look at a "bulk rate" for students to pay for their credits. "So that way, it would cover between 12 and 18 hours so there is no excuse why you can't take 15 credits," Glick said.
With all of the talk about how the new Knowledge Center as well as the Joe Crowley Student Union will help the campus reinvent its "front door" to the community, Elaine Casey of Marketing and Communications asked Glick what would be done to help keep the older areas of campus "just as vibrant."
"Over the past week, the Quad has been drop-dead gorgeous," Glick said. "We roped it off for two or three months, and for good reasons. But I enjoy watching the kids throwing their Frisbees or studying on the grass. I'm willing to open that area up. I'm willing to have 80 percent beauty and still have a place for the kids to play."
Glick was asked about if he could make more nighttime classes available. He said he was looking at that issue, as well as, more generally, all course offerings.
His response seemed to echo another theme of the day: Cooperation, collaboration and communication for all parties on campus could make all of the difference for Nevada.
"If you don't offer the courses that the students need, then shame on us," he said. "We have an obligation as good stewards to give our students the tools they need to get through. It is a problem. I don't know if it's worse here or not. I want the deans to solve it; not me. That's why I'm doing these Town Halls. I know if we work together, the campus, we can solve many of these problems."