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Student Growth, Research Opportunities, Diversity Issues Top of Mind for UNR President


University of Nevada Reno President Marc Johnson says the state of the school is strong, citing increased student enrollment as well as gains in becoming the state's only top-tier research institution. The president also discussed issues surrounding diversity and inclusion on campus.

For the seventh time since taking the top job at UNR, Marc Johnson delivered his annual state of the university address to a ballroom filled with staff, faculty and community members.

This year, Johnson focused his attention on reaffirming the universities commitment to what he calls the three "big goals." They include agenda items he first outlined in 2013.

"We came out of the recession with a greater sense of cooperation and cohesion, resulting in a greater entrepreneurial spirit and momentum reflecting resolve to be a top-ranked university to match the talents of our remaining professional employees, and to serve the expectant group of well-prepared students who chose the University of Nevada, Reno because of our promise to offer an educational experience worthy of their preparation," Johnson said.

President Johnson also touched on the growing issue of diversity and race-relations on the university campus. Since mid-August, when a UNR student filmed participating in a white-supremacist rally in Virginia, some students and faculty have questioned school's handling of the situation.

But during the speech, Johnson told attendees he believes the university and its personnel are working to making the school a place for where anyone can study and work.

"Our campus provides a safe environment for everyone who is prepared in pursuing a degree," Johnson said. "We still have a long way to go to fulfill our mission to reflecting the diversity of Nevada."

One definitive step taken by the university leaders say they are taking is hiring 11 more positions across the university specializing in diversity, access or inclusion.

For academic advisor Jeryl Concepcion, he says he would like to see more specific details on how the university will include students in the future conversations about inclusion.

"Specifically, I would really like to see more direction moving forward as to how students will continue to get involved with this and how student's voices and their feedback will continue to be taken into consideration moving forward," Concepcion said.

This year roughly 37 percent of the students at UNR are minorities, a number that's expected to increase in the future.

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