In the spring of 1977, Western Nevada College needed someone immediately to teach a real estate class for the remainder of the semester.
Larry Goodnight was living near Lake Tahoe, working in the gaming business and teaching a class at Lake Tahoe Community College, and in the process of launching a real estate company. Goodnight was contacted about the position and given little time to consider the job offer.
His decision to rearrange his life changed WNCâ€™s business department long term, providing it with continuity and growth. It also gave Goodnight the opportunity to educate daily.
Not only did Goodnight finish that first semester, he became the linchpin of WNCâ€™s business department over the next 30 years. From a part-time role, Goodnight became a permanent faculty member, teaching business management, finance, economics and real estate classes in the late afternoon and evening.
â€œThat way I could keep my real estate business. I did that for 28 years,â€ he said.
After retiring from WNC in 2008, Goodnight concentrated on the day-to-day operations of his company, Mountain Investments Inc., but the college remained in his thoughts. His company focuses on residential and commercial clients and at one point included 12 employees, including former WNC students, before the recession scaled back his workforce.
Knowing he could still contribute to the college, Goodnight agreed this spring to return to the college as a member of WNCâ€™s Foundation.
â€œThis is a good fit,â€ Goodnight said. â€œItâ€™s time to get back.
Through his contacts and associations with the local business community, Goodnight plans to make a difference in WNCâ€™s future. As a result, heâ€™s joined the foundationâ€™s finance committee and will serve as a private fundraiser.
â€œIâ€™m going to actively pursue donations to the foundation from manufacturers and small business owners,â€ he said.
During his tenure at WNC, Goodnight watched the college progress from a primarily occupational-oriented education provider into a well-rounded and diversified school that prepares students for university transfer and certifications, along with applied science, technology and business degrees.
The Business Department, which Goodnight chaired three different times, tailored some of its classes to enhance studentsâ€™ employment opportunities. A partnership with Carson City Harley-Davidson allowed its senior employees to teach classes at the business in different areas such as credit collections, phone skills, etc. When golf was booming and news courses consistently opening, Goodnight taught business-related golf classes that helped students become employed in pro shops.
In his role with the foundation, Goodnight would also like to provide more area businesses with specifically trained employees.
â€œMy thrust would be to have more involvement in the community with business and tweaking the curriculum to satisfy what the business community wants, so students can get a $2 an hour raise for a job,â€ he said.
Goodnight earned his Bachelorâ€™s of Arts degree from the University of Southern California and his Masterâ€™s degree in Business Administration at the University of Nevada, Reno. He also served two years in the U.S. Air Force.