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May 28, 2009
By Claudene Wharton
The University is reaching out to recruit and retain a more diverse student population. The goal is to have a campus that more closely mirrors the diversity of the community and the state.
Recently, the University’s College of Business applied for $400,000 in federal funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help with the effort. With Sen. Harry Reid’s assistance, the Nevada Small Business Development Center (NSBDC) at the College was awarded the funds and has created the “Imagine 2012” multi-faceted program.
“With the Imagine 2012 program, we not only want to change the College’s demographics to more closely reflect the diversity of the region, but we also want to increase the University’s opportunities to lead and support a more diverse region overall,” said Sam Males, director of the NSBDC at the University.
Males said part of the program includes recruiting a visiting professor from Mexico to teach some classes at the College, who would also visit area high schools to recruit Hispanic and other ethnically diverse students. In addition, Males said Greg Mosier, Dean of the College, plans to send a couple of his faculty to Mexico on short-term instruction and research visits – setting up sort of a professor exchange program.
“This is a global economy,” Mosier said. “Our students and our faculty benefit from coming to understand diverse populations and cultures. The learning experience is enriched when you have a more diverse student population and reach out across cultural and geographic boundaries.”
In fact, the NSBDC at the College was recently the first in the nation to offer the highly acclaimed national NxLeveL training program for entrepreneurs in Spanish. The College has provided the 13-week, 39-hour course in English to more than 1,800 Nevadans since 2000, and according to Males, it offers the best practical education for small businesses in the nation. The Spanish-language course began at the University last month, with a full enrollment of 24 Spanish-speaking business owners.
“We have had many Hispanics take the course with English materials,” explained Kathy Carrico, director of state training for the Center. “However, many of our Hispanic business owners who speak English sometimes experience difficulty reading and writing in English. For them, offering this course in Spanish allows the best learning environment to help them achieve success in their businesses.”
The Center will be offering additional Spanish-language NxLeveL training courses throughout the state, as well as stepping up its efforts to offer one-on-one business counseling to Hispanic and other ethnically diverse business owners.
Others in the community already see the value in the College’s efforts to increase student diversity and assist ethnically diverse business owners in the state. In addition to the U.S. Small Business Administration, AT&T and Wells Fargo donated $20,000 and $25,000 to the program, respectively.
“One of our goals is to create momentum with these initial funds, securing resources to make the program a sustainable one,” said Males. “Having AT&T and Wells Fargo step up to the plate at the onset of the program is tremendous. We’re very grateful to them, Senator Reid and the Small Business Administration, and as the program progresses, we’re optimistic that others will want to get involved.”