Reid Statement on Bill to Develop Three New Higher Education Campuses in Nevada
October 8, 2009
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid today submitted the following statement for the record at the Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee hearing on S.940, the Southern Nevada Higher Education Land Act.
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing a hearing on this important legislation.
“This bill would direct the Bureau of Land Management to convey approximately 2,400 acres of land that they currently manage to the Nevada System of Higher Education. This transfer will allow for development of three new higher education campuses: one for the College of Southern Nevada; one for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and one for Great Basin College.
“Currently, the Nevada System of Higher Education campuses in southern Nevada comprise just 1,200 acres. This is one of the smallest footprints of any major higher education system in the western United States. In fact, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has less than half the land base of comparably enrolled western universities such as the University of Utah, the University of Colorado, or the University of California at San Diego. The College of Southern Nevada is similarly short on space, having been already near capacity at each of its three campuses before a 15 percent spike in enrollment over the last 3 years. Further, the small branch campus of Great Basin College in Pahrump, which currently holds its classes in high school classrooms at night, has seen a phenomenal 160 percent increase in full-time enrollment this fall. Each of these institutions of higher education has a pressing need for space in order to continue to provide the high quality of education that Nevadans and all Americans expect and deserve.
“My legislation provides for conveyance of approximately 40 acres for the College of Southern Nevada and 285 acres for Great Basin College. 2,085 acres would also be conveyed for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas after remediation of a World War II small arms range on portions of the land. This future north campus for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas abuts Nellis Air Force Base, and the legislation contains a provision that requires a binding interlocal agreement between the Nevada System of Higher Education and the base prior to conveyance. This agreement will ensure that both the mission of the base and our national security interests are protected.
“This legislation has the support of the entire Nevada congressional delegation and has been welcomed by area leaders. The Nevada System of Higher Education has worked closely with city and county officials to plan the development of world-class facilities in their communities, and with the Air Force to address the needs of Nellis Air Force Base. It is important to note that each of the three parcels designated for transfer has been designated by the Bureau of Land Management for disposal because they are surrounded by development and are difficult to manage. Additionally, the key language in this legislation regarding the activities allowed on these school lands was unanimously approved by this committee in 2002.
“One of our great responsibilities as a Congress and as a people is to provide our citizens with the opportunity to take part in the American dream. And we all know that education is the key to that dream. By working together to make these new campuses a reality we will turn these lands into the literal foundation of opportunity for generations to come.
“I greatly appreciate the distinguished Chairman and Ranking Member making time for this hearing and I look forward to working with the Committee to advance this bill.”
# # #