Outgoing Western Nevada College President Carol Lucey’s tenure was recalled fondly in Carson City this week, and mostly fondly elsewhere.
Lucey announced her resignation last week, citing legislative budget cuts as among the reasons.
The school’s state funding was cut from $15 million to $14 million this year. Lucey will continue in the position she has held since 1999 until a successor is found.
Ron Knecht of Carson City, who holds the Board of Regents District 9 seat representing Northern Nevada, credited Lucey for her work.
“It’s been really a very tough four years for WNC, and she’s certainly fought the good fight and taken a beating for doing it,” he said.
Churchill County Commissioner Bus Scharmann served 37 years as an administrator for WNC, with much of that time spent on the Fallon campus. He said he had nothing but positive things to say about Lucey.
“She’s guided the college through some really, really difficult times, and kept the doors open,” Scharmann said.
Bob Clifford, chairman of the Fallon’s Restore Our College Campus Committee (ROCCC), said he understands Lucey’s decision to resign after years of budget cuts.
“We worked with Dr. Lucey during the last legislative session to try to get a full hold-harmless from the formula cuts, but the representatives from the south got what they wanted, and only through the efforts of (Sen.) Pete Goicoechea did we avoid a complete budget disaster,” Clifford said.
Clifford and Ron Evans, the president of the Churchill County School District board of trustees and a longtime educator, said they differed with Lucey when it came to a vision for the Fallon campus.
“We (in Fallon) have not seen eye-to-eye about how past restructuring and cuts were handled,” Clifford said. “Dr. Lucey’s vision of Western Nevada College seemed to be more of a junior college than a Community College.”
As a result, vocational programs there were particularly hard-hit, he said.
“Well before the budget cuts came, she had already centralized administration in Carson City and took almost all autonomy away from the Fallon campus,” Clifford added.
“The nursing program that was originally started in Fallon was ultimately cut in Fallon while retained in Carson City.
“More recently, however, Fallon seemed to be recovering, and improvements were being made, so we were pleased with the progress and happy to be working with Dr. Lucey over the legislative session.”
The Board of Regents is now focused on finding the next president, Knecht said.
“We will have a regents search committee, which will probably have half a dozen regents, and then have an advisory committee which will include faculty, administrative staff, students and people from the western communities,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to that search. What we need, I think, is a president who will help revitalize WNC overall and especially Fallon ... who will promote electronic-learning and educational restructuring ... promote academic rigor and who will be involved in Fallon, Carson, Douglas, Lyon and all of our communities ... and finally, one who will streamline the administration somewhat.”
Scharmann expressed concern about any suggested mergers of community colleges in Northern Nevada; their numbers also include Great Basin College and Truckee Meadows Community College.
“That’s the biggest question I would have, are the regents going to move forward and hire a new president?” said Scharmann, who was one of ROCCC’s organizing members.
“And I would hope that Fallon would have representation on that selection committee.”
It will, Knecht said.
“To not have Fallon represented would be a great mistake,” he said.
“I’m kind of looking forward from here in terms of what we do, and certainly one of the forward-looking aspects of it is what do to help restore the Fallon campus, to stabilize it.”