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Hints of autonomy for community colleges?

Written By:

Tom Gorman

CSN exterior

Over decades, some Nevada politicians, education leaders and consultants have argued that Nevada’s four community colleges shouldn’t report to the state’s Board of Regents, which oversees UNLV and UNR, but rather be allowed to operate independently, perhaps with each individual college governed within its own community.

Now, as Nevada legislators again review how the community colleges are governed and funded, a state constitutional law expert says nothing prevents lawmakers from removing the colleges from regents’ control.

That possibility, which has been raised before and rejected, would have far-reaching implications in how community colleges get and spend money and to what degree they offer programs better fit for their local needs, such as meeting regional labor demands.

The Board of Regents, in this scenario, would oversee only UNLV and UNR — which is what the crafters of the Nevada constitution intended in 1864, says Thomas McAffee, a constitutional law professor at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.

It’s clear that the constitution calls for a University of Nevada to be governed by a board of regents. The state’s founding fathers made the requirement and identified areas of study including agriculture, engineering and mining, in order to qualify for federal funds — a quest that indeed goes back 150 years.


Las Vegas Sun