As I look back on the last couple of years, I am truly astounded at all we have accomplished. Although at times it seemed like COVID-19 was the focus of our days, a closer look shows that we were able to navigate the challenges created by COVID-19 while still reaching many of our goals to advance our land-grant missions of teaching, research and engagement.
In our degree-granting programs, our faculty went above and beyond to bring their courses online and make our labs safe during COVID restrictions. Our students persevered admirably, staying on course, and during the 2019-2020 academic year and winter 2020, our College awarded 322 undergraduate degrees and 70 master’s or doctoral degrees.
We also launched our Living Learning Community in the Great Basin Residence Hall, offering incoming freshmen the opportunity to live and work with students who have similar academic goals and interests while also providing individualized mentorship and extracurricular activities. In addition, we filled gaps, hiring new professors, researchers and lecturers to expand our knowledge base for instruction and keep class sizes down. We even developed a new doctoral degree in Natural Resources & Environmental Science, approved by the Board of Regents in late 2020.
On the research and outreach fronts, our Extension and Experiment Station faculty and staff were hard at work, adapting valued workshops and trainings they formerly held in person to online formats or videos to keep the education flowing during COVID. Small businesses, agricultural producers, food handlers, home gardeners, landscapers and many others benefitted from online educational programs. In fact, many of our programs had more participation than ever after going online, something that will likely change the way we will deliver some of our programs long after the pandemic is over.
From 4-H youth and their families making masks, to faculty and staff collecting gloves from labs, our faculty, staff and volunteers sprang into action, donating tens of thousands of personal protective equipment to health care workers, emergency personnel and others. To help with local food shortages, the Experiment Station increased its meat production at Wolf Pack Meats by more than 20% and partnered with local food producers through our Desert Farming Initiative to help get fresh produce to market and to those most in need.
Our Experiment Station also followed through with plans to partner with the USDA Agricultural Research Service to create a core analytical laboratory on campus that is open to faculty, staff and the public for chemical analyses of food, soil and water samples. In addition, we completed our plans to open the Great Basin Research and Extension Center in Eureka, Nevada, now once again home to the world-renowned Rafter 7 sheep, developed by our own College’s faculty.
Extension, in partnership with Clark County, also opened the A.D. Guy Knowledge Center in Las Vegas’ Westside, answering a call to provide educational programs and access to technology to this underserved area with many families of limited resources.
Additionally, Extension partnered with the Nevada Association of Counties and others to begin the Nevada Economic Assessment Project (NEAP), providing county-level information – demographic, economic, land use, fiscal, etc. – to help guide planning and decision-making.
This is just a small sample of what’s been happening with our College. It has indeed been an eventful time, with us also being fortunate to welcome in 2020 former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval as our new University President, and Melody Rose as our new Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor.
As we enter 2021, I know that operational and economic challenges will linger. But, with the continued extraordinary dedication of our faculty, staff and students, as well as the generous support of our partners, donors and volunteers, I am confident that we will come through 2021 with many more achievements to help our students and our state prosper.
With heartfelt gratitude to all, Bill Payne
Claus Tittiger | Associate Dean for Academics
The biggest news for resident instruction this past academic year is, of course, the impact of COVID-19 on teaching, which started half way through the spring 2020 semester and will continue at least through spring 2021. Our College’s instructors responded admirably in the rapid pivot to remote teaching styles. Our Student Center also shifted to remote services and similarly ramped up efforts to help students.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of faculty and staff, and with the help of extra resources our College poured into equipment and staffing, we have been able to maintain high quality content and, importantly, keep students engaged while they are off campus. The dedication, sacrifice and care repeatedly shown by our instructors and student services is inspiring and humbling. I thank all for their hard work and skill.
I also want to recognize the outstanding efforts and fortitude shown by all of our students for adapting and persevering this past year. During the 2019-2020 academic year, we were pleased to welcome 311 new undergraduate students and 79 new graduate students, and during the 2020-2021 academic year thus far, we have welcomed 400 new undergraduate students and 83 new graduate students. In addition, we were very happy to welcome to our College two new teaching assistant professors: Farrah Monibi (Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences) and Marina MacLean (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology), and our newest lecturer, Yvette Gibson (Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences).
I would also like to congratulate:
the 256 students in our College who graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees, and 56 graduate students who graduated with master’s or doctoral degrees during the 2019-2020 academic year,
the 66 students in our College who graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees, and 14 graduate students who graduated with master’s or doctoral degrees in December 2020,
Edward Cruz (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology) for winning a Goldwater Scholarship, a nationally ranked and highly competitive award,
The College’s winners of the ASUN Senior Scholar awards: Natasha Katerina Wesely (Nevada Teach Secondary Education and Natural Resources & Environmental Science, Fall 2019), Edward Rene Cruz (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Spring 2020) and Ensi Bejto (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Fall 2020),
Joshua Killinger (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology), recipient of the College’s 2020 Dale W. Bohmont Leadership Award, and
Associate Professor Mike Teglas (Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences) for receiving our College’s Outstanding Teacher Award for 2020.
Despite the many challenges of the past year or two, I am also proud that we have been able to continue to expand and improve upon our College’s educational offerings in a number of ways, including:
the launch of our Living Learning Community in the Great Basin residence hall in fall 2020,
successful external program reviews for the Department of Nutrition and the Department of Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences,
accreditation of the B.S. Rangeland Ecology and Management Program by the Society for Rangeland Management,
the launch of our Rangeland Wildfire Fighter Training Program, which provides college credit for professional firefighters in a nontraditional format and is rapidly gaining recognition across the western U.S., and
the approval of our new doctoral degree in Natural Resources & Environmental Science.
Finally, I am extremely proud that we have been able to provide our students with $170,014 in scholarships and awards for the 2019-2020 academic year, and $151,303 for the 2020-2021 academic year. I thank everyone who supports our scholarship and fund development efforts. It is only with your help that we can provide our students with this valuable assistance.
Chris Pritsos | Associate Dean for Research & Experiment Station Director
Each year presents its own unique set of challenges that we must navigate in order to fulfill our Experiment Station land-grant mission. I believe that it is fair to say that there has not been a year quite like 2020, bringing challenges we never could have imagined. I am very proud of our Experiment Station faculty and staff, who rose to the challenge, and despite all of the obstacles, continued to serve our university, communities and state during these challenging times. Let me mention a few of our accomplishments related to the COVID pandemic.
Meat plants closed throughout the country due to COVID outbreaks at their facilities, making it difficult for producers to get their animals to market and thereby creating a meat shortage. Our College’s Wolf Pack Meats, however, instituted strict regulations in the plant early on, and not only remained open, but increased its production by more than 20% in order to help local producers and increase the local meat supply.
The Experiment Station’s Desert Farming Initiative partnered with local food organizations and producers to help get fresh produce to market and to those most in need.
In March, when health care workers were facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, faculty and staff from the Experiment Station and entire College rallied together and provided over 36,000 gloves, as well as many masks, face shields and goggles to the University’s Medical School for distribution to health facilities in northern Nevada.
A few other major accomplishments include:
The Experiment Station partnered with the USDA Agricultural Research Service to create a core analytical laboratory open to faculty, staff and the public for chemical analyses of food, soil and water samples.
The Great Basin Research & Extension Center opened in Eureka, Nevada, this past year, with Gary McCuin serving as its director. The world-renowned Rafter 7 sheep, developed by our College’s faculty about 30 years ago, are the centerpiece of this research and Extension facility.
Research activities at the Fallon Field Station were dramatically increased this past year, as several faculty worked with local producers to test growing conditions of various crops in the region.
Many new challenges will emerge in the coming year, particularly with current and looming budget cuts, but we remain optimistic that the Experiment Station will continue to thrive and serve our state in the coming year.
Ivory W. Lyles | Associate Dean for Engagement & Extension Director
I am extremely proud of the impact Extension has made over the past couple of years, even amidst the most challenging of conditions. It’s impossible to capture it all, but you’ll find a handful of examples in this report.
Our faculty and staff quickly responded to the needs of our stakeholders when the pandemic hit, adapting workshops and educational programs formerly delivered in person to online formats. In doing so, we often found that even more people attended and benefitted from the programs than ever before.
One example is our town halls and workshops for small-business owners. In April 2020, our team took the Spanish- and English-language sessions online, with Extension experts and partners such as the Small Business Administration helping business owners navigate assistance programs and adapt their businesses to COVID conditions.
Another major Extension effort supporting community and economic development, the Nevada Economic Assessment Project (NEAP), was launched early in 2019, in partnership with the Nevada Association of Counties and others. This ongoing project will provide each county with information on their demographic, social, economic, land use, fiscal and environmental characteristics to help guide their planning and decision-making.
There are more examples of our Extension’s recent accomplishments in this report, including programs:
Serving thousands of limited-resource families with educational programs to improve health and nutrition, in partnership with SNAP-Ed (USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education) and others.
Helping people grow their own healthy food, and providing our agriculture and livestock producers with the latest research-based information to help them sustain their businesses and provide safe and local food for our state.
Providing research and information to help protect Nevadans, our environment and our resources amid Nevada’s challenging climate-related issues, such as wildfires and drought.
You’ll notice that there are particular areas of focus in our work. Around these areas of focus, we recently formed statewide Program Teams – groups of our faculty and staff who are charged with collectively identifying statewide needs and priorities in their respective areas of focus and establishing working groups with community partners to address these priorities. There are five Program Teams, aligning with state legislative mandates and regional and national priorities:
4-H Youth Development
Family, Youth, Health & Nutrition
Community & Economic Development
Agriculture, Natural Resources & Horticulture
Partly to help provide leadership, training and support to these teams, we hired an Extension Associate Director at the end of 2019, Shannon Horrillo. Shannon also helps develop policies and procedures, compile data for reporting, communicate with stakeholders, and seek resources for Extension programming.
As we usher in 2021, I am extremely thankful for our faculty, staff and volunteers, as well as our many partners, who have helped us to continue an upward trajectory in service to our State. I look forward to what 2021 holds with optimism and gratitude,
Our College is the foundation of Nevada's Land-Grant university and is committed to
Improving the student experience through strengthening academic programs, encouraging a culture of diversity and international focus on campus, providing significant co-curricular experiences and enhancing the campus environment.
Building on our academic strengths to create new interdisciplinary academic opportunities, support the efforts of our excellent faculty, and improve the national and international visibility of our programs.
Assessing the outcomes of all our activities so that we know our strengths and weaknesses and can take effective steps to improve our performance.
Communicating effectively with our various stakeholders in the state, region and nation so that we can both respond to the needs of our society and tell our story better.
Cultivating support from a variety of sources so that the University can continue to flourish, even in a climate of limited state-appropriated resources.
New agricultural research and Extension center begins operations
The College's new Great Basin Research & Extension Center in Eureka County has begun operations in a new initiative for rural Nevada. It will address the related issues of sustainable grazing management of dryland rangelands, livestock, crop production under water-limited environments, and alternative water and irrigation strategies for crop production.
"This operation will address real-world problems through research and Extension – providing useful knowledge to the ranchers and farmers of Nevada," Bill Payne, dean of the College, said.