June 1, 2017 marked a new beginning for Nevada State College when Dr. Vickie Shields assumed her role as the institution’s new Provost and Executive Vice President.
Dr. Shields, who was officially named to the position in December, will serve as the College’s chief academic officer and oversee the institution’s educational offerings. She’ll also play an important role in creating and driving the long-term academic strategies and priorities for Nevada State College, and she’s ready to hit the ground running.
“I’m excited to support the mission of Nevada State College,” Dr. Shields said. “Nevada State College is the public state college for Nevada and I believe there is a tremendous opportunity for the growth of our student population and academic offerings.”
One opportunity Dr. Shields is particularly looking forward to – and her biggest priority right out of the gate – is working to improve Nevada State College’s graduation rates. While graduation rates continue to climb and this year’s graduating class was the College’s largest in its 15-year history, Dr. Shields believes there’s still more to do to ensure more Nevadans earn degrees.
“We’ve established so many great support systems for students that are unique to Nevada State College, and we believe they will continue to pay off not just in the retention of students into the system, but in getting them to graduation,” she said.
A key strategy in achieving that goal, according to Dr. Shields, is continuing to invest in student support services. As a first-generation college student herself, she’s particularly passionate about creating and sustaining a campus that supports a unique, diverse student population from the moment a student is accepted until the moment they toss their cap into the air at commencement.
Working with a diverse and nontraditional student body isn’t new for Dr. Shields. She comes to Nevada State College from Eastern Washington University in Cheney Washington, where she was the Dean of the College of Social Sciences. According to Dr. Shields, there are a lot of commonalities between the two institutions in terms of the students they serve.
“I’ve been working with students who are very similar to the students at Nevada State College, and I am familiar with the unique challenges that face nontraditional students who have jobs, and families.” Dr. Shields said.
Dr. Shields is also looking forward to leading Nevada State College in creating academic initiatives that continue to meet the workforce needs in Southern Nevada, where the shortage of teachers is constantly of concern.
“One area that really needs serious attention is education, particularly in regard to the teacher shortage,” Dr. Shields said. “We want to be the college of choice for teachers to come get educated, and then return to schools throughout Clark County to have long and successful teaching careers.”
And while the institution’s education program is a strategic area of focus currently, Dr. Shields believes the College needs to constantly have a pulse on what’s needed in the community so academic programs can grow as Southern Nevada grows.
“We have to stay very attuned to the region,” Dr. Shields said. “I am looking forward to being that voice on the academic front and listening to what programs should be part of our College so we can make those strategic decisions.”
While the vision for the future of Nevada State College is still being shaped, Dr. Shields is excited about what’s on the horizon.
“I’d be incredibly happy if in a few years, we have a few more buildings, and we’re moving closer to becoming a partially residential campus with dormitories,” Dr. Shields said. “I also would like to see even more student activities and clubs to keep students on campus and a broader array of extracurricular offerings. There’s also a lot of room for new programs. We have to think very strategically.”
Bart Patterson, President of Nevada State College, said he’s proud to welcome Dr. Shields to the campus.
“It’s an honor to have Dr. Shields as our new Provost,” President Patterson said. “Dr. Shields is highly respected in higher education, and we’re so proud to have such a transformational leader guiding our academic vision at Nevada State College.”
In total, Shields brings over 20 years in higher education to Nevada State College. During her tenure at EWU, she led the institution through one of the largest and most complex reorganizations in EWU’s history. She also built a premier college committed to social justice, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement in social science and professional social work.
Prior to EWU, Dr. Shields served as assistant and associate professor of telecommunications and women’s studies at Bowling Green State University, before becoming director of the women’s studies program and eventually associate dean of arts and sciences – where she led a successful university-wide general education reform.
Dr. Shields holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boise State University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She earned her master’s degree in communications and doctorate in communication & media studies from The Ohio State University, where she was named a presidential fellow.