Highlands University’s new president believes it’s important for universities to play an active role in the life of a community, from social and cultural activities to economic development, and is reaching out to Las Vegas civic organizations and community leaders.
“It’s a synergistic model where what benefits Highlands benefits the community,” said Highlands President Sam Minner. “For instance, 0ur campus is located in the middle of the historic business corridor in Las Vegas and more off-campus opportunities for our students to dine and shop would also benefit local businesses.”
In the first month of his presidency, Minner talked to organizations such as the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs and met with the Las Vegas mayor and chief of police, as well as presidents from Luna Community College, the United World College – USA, and other officials.
He also joined the board of directors for MainStreet de Las Vegas and immediately identified two quality of life initiatives that he wants to help the nonprofit move forward. MainStreet is a nonprofit community organization that implements economic development and job growth in Las Vegas through revitalizing the historic downtown business corridor.
“I want to assist MainStreet with its effort to bring a movie theater to downtown again and help with a grant initiative to install more signage to direct traffic from I-25 to the historic business district,” Minner said. “The biggest goal for me on the MainStreet board is to enhance the quality of life for our city and the region.”
Cindy Collins, MainStreet executive director, said the board is thrilled Minner is serving.
“In his first MainStreet board meeting, Dr. Minner brought fresh ideas about how other university towns attract students and faculty to downtown,” Collins said. “We want to work together to make sure Las Vegas is known as a university town. Having both Dr. Minner and economics professor Dr. Bill Taylor on our MainStreet board will double our efforts to help make this happen.”
Minner said the old notion of the ivory tower of higher education being separate from the community is antiquated and no longer works. He has a long track record of community engagement. Most recently, as the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, Minner was a founding member of the nonprofit Radford Child Development, Inc., served on the board of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, and was a volunteer election poll worker.
“Those of us who have the privilege of working in higher education have a collective responsibility to model engaged citizenship if we hope to instill this in students,” Minner said. “At a personal level, I derive a great deal of satisfaction from community involvement.”
Minner brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education administration and college teaching to his position at Highlands. Before his work at Radford University, he was the founding dean of the School of Health Sciences and Education at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, and the chair of the Department of Instructional Leadership at Northern Arizona University – Flagstaff, among other positions.
Minner earned his Ph.D. in cognitive and behavioral disabilities with additional studies in philosophy and educational leadership from the University of Arizona. He is widely published in scholarly education journals and was a tenured professor at Radford University, Truman State University, Northern Arizona University, and Murray State University.
He helped establish the University College of Belize in Central America and was its first acting dean.