In a monumental agreement between two highly accredited universities in Nevada, the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) recently acquired Sierra Nevada University (SNU). A true collaboration between two vibrant and innovative institutions, this transition aims to expand higher education opportunities in the greater Northern Nevada region.

Sierra Nevada University, now the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe, is known as one of the most picturesque campuses in the country. Located in Incline Village and about one mile from Lake Tahoe, it has served our close-knit community for more than 50 years.

That’s why as a long-time Northern Nevada resident and Incline Village real estate expert, I’m sharing information on the significance of this transition and how these two universities in Nevada plan to prioritize an orderly transfer of operations. Here’s what you need to know.

Universities in Nevada - UNR

Two Universities In Nevada, One Mission To Serve Future Generations Of Learners

First, to understand the “why” behind this transition, it’s essential to look at UNR at Lake Tahoe’s history, growing from a private institution with only 23 students to a four-year university, enrolling more than 700 students per year.

An Eagle’s Eye View

With more than 50 years of educational service in the Lake Tahoe-Northern Nevada region, UNR at Lake Tahoe has experienced tremendous growth. If you’re wondering why the institution has undergone several name changes and locations, here’s a brief timeline:

Fall of 1969

  • Founded as Sierra Nevada College (SNC), the institution was envisioned to reflect the unique environmental qualities of the Lake Tahoe basin.

The 1970s

  • In 1976, SNC was accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) for its outstanding contributions to the educational community.
  • SNC added several new academic programs and undergraduate departments in fine arts and management.

The 1980s

  • SNC formed its Teacher Education Program, which would later culminate in the creation of several graduate-level programs.

The 1990s

  • SNC underwent the development of a new Lake Campus, and for several years, the college operated classes and activities in two locations.
  • New administrative offices and residence halls were added.

The early 2000s and on

  • SNC began offering graduate-level programs, including the Master of Arts in Teaching (2005), the Master of Education in Advanced Teaching and Leadership (2008), the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing (2012), and the Master of Arts in Administration (2015).
  • In 2004, SNC opened the Prim Library and Learning Resource Center.
  • SNC leadership sold the Mountain Campus and relocated all activities, classes, and programs to the Lake location in the 2006-2007 academic year.
  • SNC, the Desert Research Institute, and the University of California, Davis began a partnership to build the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences in 2006.
  • In 2014, SNC opened the Holman Arts & Media center.
  • In 2020, SNC changed its name to Sierra Nevada University.

Today, SNU remains one of the top universities in Nevada for environmental studies, and in its transition to UNR, it will continue to be a leader in sustainable practices. Keep reading to learn more about what brought the Sierra Nevada Eagles and the Nevada Wolf Pack together.

Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences at the newly renamed University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe.

From SNU To UNR at Lake Tahoe

Discussion for this transition began in June 2021, when the SNU Board of Trustees approached UNR about a transfer of operations—it was determined that its financial model was no longer sustainable as it relied heavily on student tuition to support most of its operations.

After several town hall meetings and a year’s worth of approvals from the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents and NWCCU, the two universities in Nevada moved forward with the acquisition process, finalized on July 1, 2021.

Jill Heaton, Senior Vice Provost, and Sue Johnson, Associate Vice President for Administration and Finance for UNR at Lake Tahoe, committed early on to leading these efforts.

In a recent Nevada Today article, they discussed their all-in approach to ensuring a seamless transfer, operating by these three core principles:

  1. A smooth transition for all students.

  2. Institutional governance and operations.

  3. Community relations.

As part of the first core principle, UNR at Lake Tahoe is offering a teach-out program to help former students complete their degree requirements. To find more information about the program, click here. If you or a loved one has additional questions about how this transition affects student enrollment, residency, and the application process, click here. For general information about the acquisition and institutional governance, click here.

Building The Bridge

These two universities in Nevada paint a picture of what true collaboration looks like. By sharing resources and institutional strengths, UNR at Lake Tahoe and UNR can better support students, faculty, staff, community members, and stakeholders.

Incline Village is bustling with excitement for the community events this innovative partnership will bring to our community. From internationally known speakers to performing art to hands-on workshops, here are some ways you can get involved:

The Tahoe Forum

On Friday, September 16, two visionary thinkers, Sir Richard Branson and Dr. Guy Harvey, will share expert insight on starting a business, transforming an industry, and more. Held at UNR at Lake Tahoe, this forum will allow you to experience a new level of substantive discussion while inspiring others to achieve their fullest potential. So, don’t miss your chance to learn from the best in business. To register, click here.

Great Conversations: “Why We Make,” presented by Rick Parsons, Teaching Professor of Art

Art has the power to transform our lives and the world around us. It can be a source of inspiration, a source of solace, and a source of strength. On Thursday, October 13, 2022, UNR at Lake Tahoe will present “What we make?” where Rick Parsons, teaching professor of art at the University, will explore how art is created and experienced and how it can enrich our lives. For more information, click here.

Writers in the Woods Literary Speaker Series

Every year, this creative series features some of the most respected writers across the country. It’s an incredible opportunity to hear these world-renowned authors speak about their process and what inspires them. Past speakers include Rebecca Makkai, Nick Flynn, Tim O’Brien, Patricia Smith, Denise Duhamel, Tobias Wolff, Kelle Groom, Lola Haskins, Brenda Hillman, Bob Hass, and many others. Whether you’re a literature fan or looking to start your writing career, this event in the woods is for you.

If you’d like to stay up to date on what’s happening in the Incline Village/Crystal Bay community, email with the subject line, “Give me the Incline Village Inside Scoop!”

At Dickson Realty, we are proud of the universities in Nevada that bring higher education opportunities to our students and community members. For more information, contact a neighborhood real estate expert at Dickson Realty today.