New WNCC president addresses business group
Whatever direction Douglas County takes in its economic development, Western Nevada Community College wants to be a fully supportive partner – providing education, training and guidance.
That was one of the messages heard by members of the Business Council of Douglas County at their September general membership meeting, where Dr. Carol A. Lucey, the new president of Western Nevada Community College, spoke on “Economic Development in Douglas County.”
“WNCC’s role is to support the community,” she said Wednesday morning at the Carson Valley Inn. “If Western can’t deliver it, we’ll find another way.”
Lucey said the goals at WNCC are threefold:
n To provide educational experiences traditional to a college setting.
n To add to the quality of life in a community through speaker series, drama, the arts, etc.
n To help with the economic development of that community.
“If the community isn’t healthy, we’re not healthy,” she said. “The main thing is, we want to put the emphasis on ‘community’ in community college. That’s our role at WNCC – to support this community, and we’re poised to help with whatever you need.”
n New York to Nevada. Lucey told members of the business council that much of what she has learned from communities where she’s resided in New York state can be translated to her work at WNCC in supporting western Nevada communities.
Lucey has lived in upper New York state communities including Johnstown, Jamestown and Alfred, where the basic economy has been troubled for some time.
“That area hasn’t had a good economy since World War II,” she said. “In Johnstown, they had a leather glove factory, but there was no community college. My parents never went to college – there was a real educational vacuum in that part of the state.”
One of the things the eastern United States offers in greater supply than the West is a wide variety of polytechnic learning institutions, including the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Alfred State College of Technology and many others, Lucey said.
Two of the issues facing Douglas County – diversification and getting students to attend college – can be aided by WNCC through polytechnic offerings, she said.
“We need institutions that can provide trained workers like engineering technicians, not just engineers,” she said. “This is what we need to bring to Nevada.”
By offering practical course studies, like those found in polytechnic institutions, community college graduates can “hit the ground running” in a good paying job with a future, she said.
Debra Lang, director of hotel operations at CVI, told Lucey that the service industry in Douglas County suffers losses of culinary students to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, all the time because there aren’t comparable offerings locally in fields like culinary training and hotel management.
“The needs of each community are different,” Lucey said. “We know that, and we can bring in other institutions if we need to provide a service to a community that we aren’t already providing. We are open to that.”
n Academic background. Lucey is a former physics professor, with a doctor of philosophy degree in theoretical high energy physics from Brown University. She was at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, N.Y., as a professor of physics, associate dean of instruction, chair of the applied sciences and mathematics division and dean of academic affairs.
Lucey also participated in post-doctoral studies on the subject of gravity at Princeton University and relativity at the University of Pittsburgh. She was most recently vice president for academic affairs at Alfred State College of Technology in New York since 1995.
n Wise growth urged. WNCC, headquartered in Carson City, serves more than 6,000 students each semester in seven counties of western Nevada. In addition to the large campus in Carson City, there are also teaching facilities in Fallon, Dayton, Fernley, Hawthorne, Lake Tahoe, Lovelock, Yerington, Virginia City and Douglas County.
“I believe that Western Nevada Community College will continue to play a pivotal role in the economic growth and cultural development of this beautiful western region,” she said.
Lucey said she has been busy visiting the different campuses and communities that WNCC serves since coming on board Aug. 2.
Since there are different economic development issues in each community, Douglas County’s effort to grow and maintain green space looks promising if county leaders continue to look at bringing in businesses that are good for the overall area, she said.
Industry that offers opportunity for good pay, social mobility, low pollution and beneficial services would be right for Douglas County, she said, and a community college’s role can be the difference between a thriving community and a stagnant one.
“The problem isn’t attracting industry, it’s attracting the right ones,” Lucey said.