Nevada Faculty Alliance
 

NFA News Archive

  • 05 May 2011 10:59 AM | Anonymous
    Since the Economic Forum released its revised revenue projections on Monday, May 2, two plans have been released, a revised one by the Governor that focuses only on cuts to public services, and a new one by the Democratic majority that balances revenue reform with spending cuts.

    On Tuesday, the governor reiterated his commitment to cut the state's budget rather than raise taxes. He relied on the logic that, if we do nothing, the economy and our budget problems will fix themselves. On one hand, the governor touted our economic growth as a means to fill holes resulting from his proposed cuts; on the other hand, he said the economy is still too weak to reform our current boom-and-bust revenue structure.

    That is not what the Economic Forum heard from analysts who gave their testimony on Monday, nor is it what history tells us.

    What the Economic Forum actually heard from analysts was that gaming revenues will never return to their previous levels, because Asian gamblers can now go to Macau, and American gamblers can gamble in their own backyards due to the spread of gaming throughout the U.S.  (Moreover, as we learned from a story today from the Nevada News Bureau, gaming companies contribute more in Pennsylvania and several other states than they do to their home state of Nevada.)

    The Forum also heard that high paying constructions jobs will not return for a very long time, if at all, because the state is over-developed. It also heard that mining is making record profits due to gold selling at a record $1,500 an ounce. Barrick Mining is so profitable that is is able to bid on reserves in China at inflated rates – effectively moving Nevadan's treasure to China to secure its future profit rather than our state's future.

    We need a tax structure that recognizes this new reality. Today, one is being presented by the Democratic leadership in the legislature as part of a budget alternative. This plan still involves significant cuts to services such as higher education, but it is a balanced approach, combining necessary cutbacks with a fairer, more equitable revenue policy.

    Because it includes a plan to scale back the payroll tax, the Democratic alternative helps promote employment in the private sector, while providing the basis for adequate investment in our needed public services, such as higher education.

    It is a plan to step out of the boom-and-bust cycles of the past to secure a more stable and prosperous future for our state.  

    This plan delays the sunset provisions built into the 2009 revenue package – in effect, it is not a tax increase, but rather a decision not to cut taxes. Governor Sandoval’s assertion that not sunsetting the 2009 revenue enhancements is tantamount to raising taxes, and thus harming our chances for recovery, belies an important fact: Even with taxes at their 2009 levels, Nevada currently has one of the nation’s lowest overall tax rates, which has not lead to economic growth.

    We call on all legislators to put aside ideologies and political agendas and come to the table now to govern – to find a sensible, compromise solution based on the very realistic and pragmatic plan presented today. Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebellius called the Governor's "cut-our-way-out" plan "faith-based economics," not a realistic plan. The legislature now has a realistic plan before it to discuss, and it should do so.

    For higher education all of these issues are extremely important. Over the past 10 years, the Nevada System of Higher Education has grown exponentially, taxed its students by raising fees and taxed its employees by cutting their pay and benefits and increasing their workload. Yet all our efforts have only netted the System an extra $20 million under the Governor’s revised plan.

    All we have left to cut are faculty jobs, rural sites and centers, and whole institutions. If we lose any of these remaining assets, Nevada will no longer have a complete system of higher education. We will go back decades to a time when students struggled to find complete programs, at reasonable prices, in-state.  In other words, we’ve grown and cut all we can without causing the state long-term harm and doing further damage to our quest for economic diversification by eliminating the educational institutions and programs that smart business leaders want and need.

    At the Economic Forum meeting, more than one analyst cited the loss of public sector jobs as a potential drag on economic recovery. They noted that both increased visitor rates and increased spending by locals have to kick in before we’ll get out of this hole. But if you cut just as many public jobs as the private sector is creating, you end up with a net zero gain – especially in light of Nevada already having one of the lowest proportions of state workers to population of any state.

    And consider this in the bigger picture: If you decimate higher education to protect business, you will also end up with a net-zero gain. Indeed, you will lose, because the businesses we want the most to protect and attract will avoid the state at all costs.





  • 05 May 2011 10:20 AM | Anonymous
    Earlier this week, Governor Sandoval spoke about Nevada's state budget. Anyone with a stake in the future of our state should take a closer look at what he said – and didn't say – about investment in higher education. If you do, you will see that the governor does not take a balanced approach when it comes to education, and that higher ed is already shouldering much more than its share of the sacrifice.

    If we continue on the path the governor suggests, our state's colleges and universities will be decimated. Nobody wants that. The Nevada Faculty Alliance urges the governor to consider a truly balanced, alternative approach.

    The Speech

    In a speech on Tuesday, May 3, the governor defended his decision to allocate almost no additional investment in higher education. The budget proposals he had submitted earlier in the day would increase state investment in higher education by only $16 million statewide. (He recommended an additional $20 million to NSHE out of $271 million available due to Economic Forum projects, but the new Economic Forum property tax projections also resulted in a $4 million loss to what had already been proposed in his budget, so the proposed cut actually increased to about $166 million.)

    This leaves a hole of nearly $150 million in the higher education budget for the coming biennium, even after the anticipated across-the-board 5-percent pay cut and deep cut to health coverage for all faculty and staff. And this is on top of the huge budget cut already absorbed by Nevada System for Higher Education institutions this biennium.

    The governor anticipates this budget hole will be filled by student fee increases and cuts to academic programs (including many faculty layoffs). In other words, although he said “we cannot tax our way out and we cannot cut our way out,” that is precisely his plan for higher education: Tax our students (and their parents) further and cut their educational opportunities deeper.

    Effects of Budget Cuts Experienced and Proposed

    Let us remember:
    1. Student fees have already increased by nearly 50 percent on average over the past three years as a result of continuing the budget philosophy of his predecessor, Jim Gibbons.
    2. State support for NSHE has already been cut by more than 20 percent in actual dollars over the past three years, even before his proposal to cut another 29 percent in net governmental support for the coming biennium.
    This crisis for higher education has been going on for four years now:
    • Workloads have increased for faculty (who took on an additional 15 percent of students in the past biennium, with much of that increase coming from tenured faculty).
    • State spending in non-instructional areas has been rolled back by more than a third System-wide (and even more at the universities).
    • Low-yield and high-expense degree programs have been eliminated by the dozens (resulting in a large number of faculty layoffs including tenured faculty).
    • Defacto enrollment caps have been instituted at community colleges, denying access to thousands of students and workers seeking opportunities to develop new jobs skills.
    • Compensation for faculty and staff has been frozen since 2007; since 2009 it has been rolled back by 4.6 percent through furloughs for most employees. Pay will be rolled back further in the coming biennium. Due to an agreement by the faculty and Chancellor and approved by the Board, a state legislative pay cut for state workers for the future will be passed along fully to the entire faculty.
    • Health benefits for faculty and staff have been cut far below competitive levels and will be cut even more steeply in the coming years.
    • Dozens more degrees and programs would be cut from a state that already ranks 51st in the country in the ratio of degree programs offered to eligible population and which also ranks at the bottom for percentage of population attending college (a measure that census data  shows closely correlates to the ratio of degrees to population).
    • Literally one in eight faculty and staff at the universities would be laid off under the detailed budget plans submitted to the legislature. This includes an estimated 200 tenured faculty, a staggering figure that would ensure years of litigation and has already brought national opprobrium on our state’s higher education system.
    • These program cuts would displace 12,000 students per year statewide.
    Reforms Already in Place

    Among the many oddities of the governor's speech was that he focused most of his time on calling for “reforms” to education in lieu of adequate funding. Yet almost every single “reform” he called for is already standard operating procedure on our campuses:
    • Rigorous evaluation of individual faculty performance. Faculty at all levels and on all campuses are evaluated annually by peers and administration, and most instructional staff are on contracts that require annual renewal. Even tenured faculty can be removed after two successive years of poor performance evaluation.
    • Use of performance measures rather than seniority to promote, reward, or to make cuts. Our campuses every year undertake painstakingly careful reviews of faculty performance using dozens of measurable standards in order to determine which faculty to reward and promote. Seniority is not a measure used for determining where to cut (or promote) higher education faculty.
    • Periodic program reviews. Institutions conduct meticulously detailed internal and external reviews of our degree programs to determine how best to deploy resources to ensure educational opportunities. Programs are added when needed, but cut if they are not producing the desired results in terms of student graduations.
    • Curricular innovation. To take but one very current example, the UNLV faculty has been actively involved in a lengthy and detailed discussion of its undergraduate education program to improve how we train students and how we measure the results. To take another, only a few years ago the entire System aligned and articulated its curricula across the state.
    • Cost-efficiency reforms. The regents have recently approved a number of other reforms that will make NSHE institutions more efficient, including calling for a 120-credit limit for most undergraduate degrees, approving differential fees for high-cost, high-demand programs and other changes.
    Conclusions

    It is no exaggeration to say that the System of Higher Education would be decimated once again (literally, cut by at least another one-tenth) under the Sandoval “tax our way, cut our way” approach to higher education.

    There is no short-term recovery from cuts of this magnitude. Once programs are terminated, they cannot be restarted; a good portion of those 12,000 students per year will likely leave the state to pursue their education and their careers, if they can afford to. Many others will simply be left out, losing a chance to improve their lives.

    Higher education is a good bargain for Nevada. The return on investment from each state dollar spent has been shown to be between $1.50 and $4, depending on the region and the year. This is a demonstrably higher return than is achieved in many areas of the private sector.

    The governor proposed in his speech that Nevada should “grow its way” out of the economic crisis. The System of Higher Education already has grown dramatically: Enrollments have risen steadily statewide and sharply at some institutions (despite the fee and tuition increases), and demand for enrollment has risen even more sharply. This demand cannot be met with the budget cuts being experienced and proposed. Revenues from areas other than the state – including research grants and contracts – have risen steadily over the past decade, demonstrating the entrepreneurial success of the faculty.

    The governor, however, would pull the platform out from this business success. His proposal for higher education is merely to cut our way out and to tax our students further. And his proposals can only curtail efforts to get more research grants as some of our best faculty leave for better opportunities elsewhere, which is occurring. Is this the way to diversify Nevada’s economy?

    Final Comment

    The Governor claimed a vision of a dynamic and forward-looking state, yet he completely overlooked in both his speech and his budget revisions to the most dynamic and forward-looking of our public services: higher education. His budget would cripple NSHE's efforts to offer educational opportunities to thousands of students, limit efforts to diversify Nevada’s economy and ruin the careers of hundreds of faculty and staff who have come to Nevada to make it a better place.

    We urge the governor to reconsider his position, and call on all citizens and legislators to join us in trying to help NSHE institutions survive, so that they can assist Nevada and Nevadans in building a better state for all of us.
  • 28 Apr 2011 8:57 AM | Anonymous
    Editor's note: This article by Jim Richardson, NFA Lobbyist, and and Gregory Brown, NFA Vice-President, originally ran in the NFA's print publication, The Alliance. For the full issue in which it appears, click here.

    We in the Nevada System of Higher Education were heartened recently to see the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce state in a letter that more revenues may be required to deal with the many needs of the State of Nevada, especially in the area of education.

    We are also heartened that, in its March 1 “reform agenda,” the Chamber endorsed a policy change that the System has long sought — allowing campuses to retain student tuition and fees. They also endorsed an end to the state’s antiquated “per-pupil funding system,” which has emphasized quantity of enrollment over quality of output.

    We appreciate as well that, in the 2011 update of its study of public sector compensation, the Chamber again found (as it had in 2009 and 2010) that Nevada higher education instructional faculty and staff are paid below the national average — and that the gap has widened since 2008.

    “[H]igher education instruction [is paid] 91 percent of the national average, a decline from last year’s 95 percent as the number of instructors fell from 3,600 in the prior year to 3,400 in 2009.... Nevada higher education instructional employees [rank] 34th in the nation, a drop from 30th in the nation in 2008."

    And with another round of across-the-board pay cuts of five percent all but certain in the coming biennial budget, Nevada is clearly losing its competitive position in the market for talented researchers and teachers. Thanks in part to the support of the Chamber, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Democratic leadership have jointly proposed economic diversification legislation (AB 499) for Nevada that would assign a prominent role to NSHE. (We are concerned that, so far, no funding source for the Knowledge Fund in AB 499 has been found, but are hopeful that additional revenues will be allocated for this effort.)

    Clearly, the Las Vegas Chamber gets it —Nevada should be supporting quality, affordable, higher education, not out of generosity but out of economic self interest.

    Grave Concerns about Tactics

    However, we have grave concern about the political strategy that the Chamber seems to be advocating in its letter — placing unrelated conditions on its support for a balanced, fair and stable revenue stream to support adequate public investment in NSHE institutions.

    From the Chamber's letter:
    Although it is not clear what the Legislative budget committees will recommend, our review has led us to believe that additional tax revenue may be necessary. However, let me be clear: The Chamber’s willingness to support additional tax revenue is absolutely dependent on the passage this year of significant and meaningful reforms that will fix systemic problems that are plaguing our state. Meaningful reform includes:
    • Fixing the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) to reduce the $10 billion unfunded liability and lowering the cost of providing this benefit [in the future]
    • Discontinuing the State Retiree Health Insurance Subsidy through the Public Employees Benefits Plan (PEBP) for new employees
    • Reforming the collective bargaining process and providing local governments with the flexibility they need to weather this
    • Transforming K-12 education to encourage and reward results
    • Retooling higher education
    This list of reforms demanded by the Chamber would hold higher education in Nevada hostage to reforms in areas that impact NSHE very little if at all, and over which NSHE has no control.
    1. Very few NSHE professional employees are in PERS. (Only people who are in PERS when they are hired may remain in PERS; that represents a very small percentage of professional employees. NSHE classified staff are in PERS.) The proposed change in access to PEBP retirement benefits for new hires will make it harder for NSHE to hire and retain faculty in the future. Moreover, the proposed change does nothing to reduce expenditures this biennium.
    2. NSHE employees are NOT covered by the local government collective bargaining statute, NRS 288.
    3. NSHE has virtually nothing to do with reforming K-12 education, except that several NSHE institutions are involved with teacher training — and are doing a very effective job.
    4. NSHE’s need for “retooling” is not detailed in the letter, so it is unclear what the Chamber wants. The implication that NSHE is not being involved in redefining its mission is patently false. This very general demand for “retooling” seems an excuse to include NSHE funding, never mind the collateral damage.
    The Chamber letter and report should have pointed out to readers that NSHE institutions have been hit much harder than any other area for which the state is financially responsible.

    State support for Nevada’s higher education system was cut over 20 percent for the current biennium, whereas many other areas saw much smaller cuts, or even increased funding. (See Table 1, source State Budget Office.)

    This same pattern is presented in the Sandoval budget for the next biennium, with NSHE slated for another huge cut in state support (another $162 million cut from current spending) — even if NSHE receives the controversial $121 million in revenues from the counties that is recommended by the governor. (See Table 2, source LCB Fiscal Staff.)

    Without the $121 million, the shortfall in government support for the next biennium would be an astounding $283 million compared with the level of funding this year. Budget cut plans submitted by NSHE institutions for the upcoming biennium demonstrate that, if the Sandoval budget is approved, more than 1,000 additional positions will be cut, along with many more degree programs and departments, affecting thousands more students.

    It is important to note the extent to which NSHE institutions, and particularly faculty, have already reduced expenses and streamlined academic programs in the past few years. During the last biennium, in response to the 20-percent reduction in
    state support, NSHE cut more than 700 faculty and staff positions around the state. Only last spring, in order to implement the 6.9-percent cut passed in the February 2010 special session, UNR and UNLV undertook a painful curricular review that resulted in the elimination of more than two dozen academic programs and the redeployment or lay-offs of more than 50 tenure-eligible and tenured faculty. Administrative expenses have been streamlined through a System-wide Efficiency and Effectiveness Task Force, student fees have been sharply increased, and other measures have been taken to reduce costs and further enhance flexibility in the coming biennium.

    Indeed, toward this end, NSHE faculty supported additional workloads for tenured faculty without compensation, while tenure-eligible faculty and all professional and classified staff took unpaid furloughs. Furthermore, the faculty supported an amendment to the NSHE Code that had been sought by the Chancellor and enacted last spring to pass through a legislatively mandated across-the-board pay cut up to 6 percent per annum. These represent considerable sacrifices by faculty, who, as already noted, are paid on average below the national median.

    Finally, there is significant ongoing curricular reform at all institutions and across the System to facilitate more rapid progress towards degrees.

    A Simple Request

    We therefore ask the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and similar groups not to stand by and allow the dismantling of a fine system of higher education as a political strategy that links NSHE funding to issues over which NSHE has no control and which do not impact NSHE.

    This approach seems misguided and would be destructive. Higher education in Nevada is being held hostage in a fight that we did not pick or want. If this strategy is pursued, the State of Nevada will be the loser — and the consequence will be a brain drain of unprecedented magnitude, as many more of our faculty give up on Nevada and leave for other opportunities.

    The state’s business community must not tolerate the dismantling and perhaps even the closing of institutions, devastating educational opportunities for thousands of students, and ruining the careers of countless educators who came here in good faith to help build a better Nevada.

    Now is the time for business leaders to join students, faculty, alumni and community members across the state — join people who have given voice to their concern about the future of Nevada and who have stood up to oppose an unbalanced, cuts-only approach to higher education.

    We ask the Las Vegas Chamber and other business groups to support a quality, affordable higher education system and to demand adequate funding for NSHE to help secure a more stable, prosperous future for the state.
  • 26 Apr 2011 9:58 PM | Deleted user

    Last Friday, the Senate and the Assembly both met as Committees of the Whole to hear detailed presentations on the NSHE budgets. Chancellor Dan Klaich proposed a compromise budget alternative that would restore roughly one-third of the $162 million in state investment that Governor Sandoval has proposed to cut from higher education – combined with shared sacrifice by students, who would pay 13-percent higher fees, and by faculty and staff, whose salary cuts and program eliminations (i.e., layoffs) would reduce operating expenses by an amount equal to the student fee increases.


    Tonight, Monday April 25, the Senate Committee of the Whole met again to discuss both the K-12 and higher education budgets. CSN's Sondra Cosgrove reports on tonight's debate:


    Majority Leader Steven Horsford asked senators to not only state whether they would support the Governor's recommended budget cuts to education, but to also go on record as supporting the effects of those cuts. 

     

    Instead of just asking who supported block grants for local school districts, Senator Horsford asked which senators supported forcing local school districts to decide which programs to keep and which to eliminate due to reduced funding. Senator Horsford didn't just ask who supported cutting funding to higher education, but which Senators supported laying off faculty, cutting classes and programs, and possibly closing sites and centers. At one point, Senator Horsford asked why pay and benefit cuts for public employees are acceptable, but tax increases are not.  Senator Ben Kieckhefer stated that money lost due to pay or benefit cuts is not the same as money lost due to a tax being continued or raised. Senator Horsford strongly disagreed.

     

    Republican senators stated that they wanted to see education reforms and the only way to get those reforms is to reduce funding. They stated that reduced funding would cause K-12 to fund and retain only the best programs and teachers, and cause higher ed to get rid of non-productive faculty, programs and campuses/sites. It was very evident that Republican senators believe that Nevada's education system can function, and even function better, with much less funding than is currently being provided. 

     

    Democratic senators argued that Nevada has never funded education adequately, and so to assume that all problems with the education systems are due to mismanagement and inefficient use of resources is not logical. They did not deny that reforms will be needed, but they asserted that starving the education systems is not the best way to achieve reform. Senator Horsford repeatedly stressed that Democrats are not asking for extra funding, just to not reduce funding below the 2009 education budget levels.

     

    To express your views, call 1-800-995-9080; fax the Nevada Senate at 775-684-6522 or the Assembly at 1-775-684-8533; or send a toll-free fax to 1-866-543-9941.

     

    To contact legislators directly, locate their email addresses here:

    Assembly: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Assembly/Current/Assembly/alist.cfm

    Senate: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Senate/Current/Senators/slist.cfm 

  • 18 Apr 2011 12:27 PM | Anonymous
    Milton Glick, University of Nevada, Reno President since August 2006, died suddenly on April 16 following a stroke. His death is a great loss for the university community, as well as his family and many friends across Nevada and the nation.

    “Milt was an outstanding leader and has left an indelible mark on the University of Nevada, Reno and the state,” said Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Klaich added that he appreciated “having had the honor of working closely with Milt, to learn from him and to be challenged by him."

    “Milt was a strong, extraordinarily respected leader, and that, combined with his enduring belief in the power of higher education, set the stage for a remarkable legacy,” wrote UNR Provost Marc Johnson in an announcement.

    Glick, 73, was UNR’s fifteenth president. He led the university through a period of unprecedented progress and growth, despite economic challenges. Under his leadership, UNR reached new heights of national stature for teaching and research. Last year, the university graduated its largest class ever, marking a 66-percent increase in the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded over 10 years.

    Glick's area was chemistry; he was a noted researcher in the field of X-ray crystallography. His work was funded for 15 consecutive years by the National Science Foundation, and he published 99 research articles during that time. He was nationally recognized as an academic leader, who envisioned the role of technology in higher education.

    Survived by his wife, Peggy, Glick also left two sons, their wives and three grandchildren. Plans for "a tribute to this great man” will be announced in the near future, Johnson said.

  • 18 Apr 2011 9:50 AM | Anonymous
    The Faculty Senate of Western Nevada College passed the following resolution in response to that campus administration's curricular review plan:
    Academic Faculty agree that the ultimate criteria for all decisions regarding WNC need to support the students, community, and programs of the college. The Academic Faculty Senate is in agreement that the goal of curricular review is to maintain academic integrity.

    After a careful review of the Curricular Review process and proposals, Academic Faculty Senate is deeply concerned that the process used to develop the original proposals did not use a collegial model. Given that the academic faculty were specifically charged with providing a response to the curricular review proposal, we are proposing that representatives from the academic faculty senate and the administration engage in a bilateral process to jointly revisit and finalize the scope and specific proposals of the curricular review.
    One faculty member provides the following analysis of the situation:
    "The curricular review plan was handed to us in a special meeting on April 4, two days after in-person notifications went out to affected faculty. The faculty senate was given one month to respond. After creating a subcommittee to consider our options, the full senate elected to take the high road and challenge both the plan and the process used to develop it.The curricular review plan was developed by the executive administration behind closed doors with no faculty input whatsoever. The proposed plan includes layoffs for seven faculty and at least one librarian in concert with eliminating and restructuring of academic programs(keep in mind we have only 65 faculty and librarians at this time). The other personnel losses via the plan are classified. One vice president is retiring and is to be replaced by a director (NOTE: The president wants to search the position immediately; we are resisting. The WNC faculty feel that searching a high-paying administrative position while laying off faculty is wrong). Otherwise, no executives or permanent administrators are proposed to be cut.
  • 12 Apr 2011 2:50 PM | Anonymous
    Last Friday, April 8, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents held a special meeting to discuss further the state's higher education budget crisis.

    The morning consisted of an extended period of public comment, in which prominent Las Vegans such as Irwin Molasky, Senator Steven Horsford and Lindy Schumacher – as well as faculty, staff and students from all three southern institutions – emphasized the importance of higher education to the regional economy. The final comment consisted of a statement from the Council of Faculty Senate chairs, on behalf of all faculty statewide.

    In the afternoon, the Board heard from the Chancellor and from campus presidents about the detailed budget cut plans that were submitted last week to the legislature, demonstrating the full impact on academic programs that would result from Governor Sandoval's proposed cut of $162 million in state support for Higher Education.

    The Chancellor summarized the substantial cuts in state investement in higher eduation already taken since 2008, while the presidents reported on the significant reductions in student access (for instance, more than 6,000 students would be turned away from CSN) and in degree programs. These include consolidations, mergers and closures of departments and whole colleges at UNLV and UNR, which would necessitate the termination of more than 200 currently employed university faculty (that's more than one-ninth of our current university faculty) and another 500 staff positions between the two universities.

    Here is a summary of the proposed cuts:
    • UNR will lose two colleges, including the teacher preparation function of the College of Education; eight majors; and with reductions in the Department of Mathematics, students will be unable to get classes needed for graduation and professional training.
    • UNLV will lose 12 departments and 36 other degree programs, 325 positions including 135 faculty lines (102 occupied by tenure-earning faculty) and more than 2,000 currently enrolled students
    • NSC, who has lost 19 percent of its full-time faculty while growing 40 percent in student enrollment since 2008, will be forced to offer fewer sections of classes and increase class sizes by over 25 percent.
    • DRI has suffered from substantial faculty losses, with 23 departures since 2008.  Without state funding to invest in recruitment, retention and new research initiatives, this trend will continue, and will likely accelerate, into the coming years. 
    • CSN  expects a reduction in enrollment by approximately 2,478 FTE in Fiscal Year 2013 and an estimated loss of 9,275 headcount, for a total of 12,336 seats on top of the estimated 5,000 students already turned away in Fall 2010.
    • GBC faces the elimination of at least 120 more sections or approximately 3,000 seats in 2012 and an additional 60 sections or another 1,500 seats in 2013.  More than 30 positions will be eliminated.
    • TMCC already has condensed five academic units into two and expects to serve 6,000 fewer students. From 2006 to 2011, TMCC has seen a reduction in staffing of more than 38 percent.
    • WNC plans to close seven satellite facilities, reduce the number of class sections offered and lose seven tenured faculty.
    • NSHE is considering a 12- to 13-percent hike in student tuition and fees for both 2012 and 2013, a cumulative increase of nearly 30 percent – on top of the 20 percent increase that has occurred in the last two years.
    The Board took action only to reopen consideration of closures and consolidations across campuses as well as within a campus.
  • 12 Apr 2011 2:13 PM | Anonymous
    In his report to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents last Friday, April 8, Chancellor Dan Klaich summarized cuts made to the System so far as follows:

    The System is preparing to enter its fifth consecutive year of budget cuts. 
    • We began cutting budgets in the fall of 2007, six months after the 2007 Legislature adjourned (Fiscal Year '08).
      • We started with a 4.5-percent budget cut in FY 2008 and FY 2009 - $57.6 million dollars.
      • As part of this reduction, NSHE returned its $10 million state investment in iNtegrate.
    • The 24th special session further reduced NSHE by 3.42 percent in FY '09 - another $22.2 million.
    • The 2009 Legislative Session was a difficult one for the System. In closing NSHE’s budget, the Legislature reduced support by 13.1 percent from the FY '09 budgeted amounts. That was an $89 million per year reduction from the budget level our enrollments would otherwise generate.
      • The FY '09 budgeted amount ($681 million) is an important benchmark, because it was the last budget that was created by the legislature that funded NSHE based on enrollments.
      • It's important to note that in reality the state support of higher education actually dropped $184.8 million more than indicated above – and was supplanted by ARRA. More than 22 percent of our budget last fiscal year (FY '10) was supported by Federal Stimulus Funds – funds that were intended to be a bridge for states experiencing hard times – not one-time funds as some have claimed.
    • And then, last winter, the 26th special session convened with another 2.3-percent reduction in FY '10 and a 6.9-percent reduction in FY '11 – a total loss of an additional $46 million. As we stand today, the State support of Higher Ed is $558 million – 18 percent below the $681 million level indicated by our budgeted enrollments.
    • Speaking of budgeted enrollments, it's interesting to note that Higher Ed is often compared to the private sector and told to "tighten its belt" when times are tough. And I understand that – when times are tough at the restaurant down the street or the hardware store on the corner, business falls off and belt-tightening occurs.  But our business hasn’t fallen off. In fact, since the year that budget cuts began, the Fall of 2007, through last fall, we have increased our headcount by 6,700 students; that's a 6-percent increase during an 18-percent cut in state support.
    • And we are doing it with a lot fewer people. A good measure of the robustness of the System is how many people it can employ to carry out its mission. NSHE simply cannot afford the number of positions today that it had in FY '08. In fact, almost 9 percent of our state-funded positions have been eliminated – again, at a time when we are serving more students.
    • Another measure of the System's health is our research activity. In FY '08, the first year of cuts, NSHE had $133.2 million in federal research and development. These projects are the heart and soul of our research mission – the projects that generate new knowledge and attract the best and brightest faculty and students.  FY '10 – just two years later – was down to $118,317 – an 11-percent drop. FY '11 looks like it will be even worse. The contributing causes are easy to identify: disincentives for bright faculty to stay, lack of available funds for grant match and lack of investment in facilities.
    • And student fees have gone up as well, from FY '07 to this year:
      • Colleges – 32 percent
      • Univ UG – 49 percent
      • Univ Grad – 60 percent
      • State College – 43 percent

  • 11 Apr 2011 8:00 AM | Deleted user
    To my fellow Senators and members of the UNR academic community:

    During the past rounds of program cuts I, and past Senate Chairs, generally tried to develop a conciliatory tone recognizing the damage of proposed cuts, but also the respect we held for those involved with the process.  We did this in the interest of shared governance, which is practiced in both good and bad economic times.  However, given the intransigence of the Governor – who refuses to even consider alternatives – and a flawed system of prioritizing cuts, we can no longer sit back and passively accommodate the process.

    The most recently announced round of program cuts are an unprecedented assault on academic quality, faculty rights (and to be honest all employee rights on campus) and the ideal – practiced for centuries – of shared academic governance.   Where in the past we clung to the veneer of shared sacrifice and informed decision making with the administration, we can no longer be complicit in the dismantling of the academy.   We have both an academic and fiduciary responsibility to the institution, state and our professions to reject both the content and process of what is unfolding across all institutions of higher education in the State of Nevada.  If we blindly sit by and fail to speak we are no better than regulators who turn a blind eye to environmental or fiduciary practices that have resulted in multiple disasters across the country.

    The announced round of cuts made yesterday are couched with the phrase they “were identified after consultation with a faculty committee.”  Some may disagree, but this is at best an overstatement.   The current cuts – done in the name of strategic prioritization and on a forced schedule – are an arbitrary collection of items and the presentation of their effects has been less than forthright.   They also include priorities and process no Faculty Senate – nor individual faculty – should allow to stand without condemnation.   I recognize the cuts were largely forced upon administration by multiple external entities, but their implementation would include the following prospects:


    ·         In a state that leads the nation in K-12 dropouts and the lowest percentage of students likely to pursue post-secondary education, the current proposal effectively eliminates any advanced training for educators.  The collapsing of the College of Education into the more amorphous College of Liberal Arts could threaten basic accreditation and licensing of future graduates.  In addition, the announcement of this reorganization simply highlights the elimination of a few graduate programs when in fact multiple firings of tenured faculty are a far more likely consequence.

    ·         The current proposal seeks to eliminate Philosophy as a degree granting unit and really in any sense as a unit with complete disciplinary independence and rigor.  Combined with a similar proposal at UNLV, this “by the numbers” approach will leave Nevada as the only state in the nation where the works of Plato, Mill and Rawls will recede to some dark administrative corner.   While we might be accused of being “pointy headed academics,” such a rejection of the fundamental ideas of academic inquiry and civilization cannot be quietly vouchsafed by the academic community.

    ·         But numbers are seemingly ignored in the proposal to take $1 million from the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.  In fact, the total dollar grab from the department was not mentioned in most press releases from the administration.  Instead, the focus was on elimination of the graduate degree program, which at best might account for 20% of the total proposed savings.  What is left unstated is the more realistic outcome of eliminating nearly 40% of the faculty within the department.   Math teaches more students than any single department on campus.  It has been singled out for cuts in every round of “strategic review,” despite the fact it carries a higher student FTE ratio than any similarly sized or tasked unit on campus.   If this cut goes forward, UNR will spend nearly equivalent amounts on the salaries for the football staff as for a discipline that is central to the success of every student at the University and vital to the support of degrees in Engineering, the Sciences and Business.  To say such a proposal in any way accords with faculty priorities is simply wrong.
    These are just a few of the implications of the new round of proposed budget cuts.  The current proposed cuts also contain an unprecedented assault on faculty rights and governance.   Previous cuts have eliminated such support and protection units as the Faculty Omsbudsperson, the Affirmative Action Officer and salary support in the Senate Office.   This latest cut removes 50% of the staff in the Senate Office.  This cut was made without any advance consultation or even the courtesy of prior notification to Senate leadership.  With more faculty facing the prospect of firings and with curricular review processes that place faculty in highly disadvantaged situations in terms of meeting biased review standards, such elimination of support staff who can assist faculty will only further weaken the voice of all employees on campus.    If tenure is to have no meaning at UNR we should honestly confront that situation and should not accept the loss of our individual rights without comment.

    We are, as a Senate, at a disadvantaged position in terms of influencing decisions made by this (or really any) administration.  The President and Provost have unenviable jobs in making cuts, but to say faculty are active partners or that we can stand by while such cuts are enacted can no longer be supported.  We should not be accomplices in these actions and certainly should not have our actions used in any way to justify actions we may find repugnant.

    Towards that end, the rigid adherence to vertical cuts has often been justified by a Senate Resolution passed in June 2008.  This resolution gave general support for preservation of programs which “have achieved national prominence and provide the most value to university constituencies.”  This resolution was developed when the level and length of the budget difficulty was not assumed to be as great as it now is and was also predicated on a belief that standards for vertical cuts would be applied in some sort of consistent fashion.  Neither assumption now holds.  To simply cling to the strategy, despite the changing circumstances, in my mind meets the pejorative definition provided by Emerson of “a foolish consistency.”   I will ask at our April meeting for a motion repudiating this prior statement as it is being used to work against faculty interests.

    We should also consider a formal statement of repudiation of the Governor’s strategy and priorities concerning higher education.  The Governor has stated that higher education has “failed” in Nevada simply based on raw degree production.  This shows little if any understanding of how students come into or even graduate from the institution.  At the most basic level, this type of thinking creates a perverse incentive for the institution to ignore any standards and simply meet the mark cranking out degrees.   Thus, if Math is somehow holding students up in their progress for a degree – largely because the University now admits more students who enter the University with a remedial Math deficiency – we simply downsize the requirement and the degree.  As noted above, it is our responsibility to insure academic quality and to simply “go along to get along” with an elected official makes a mockery of our professional standards and responsibilities.   We are often told this may “offend the Governor,” but at what point do we not react to the more grievous substantive damage resulting from the Governor’s politically motivated assault on higher education in the state?

    I will also ask for discussion concerning a request that our accrediting body – The Northwest Commission – be asked to return to campus to review whether our budget and programmatic cuts are of such magnitude that degrees from the institution be re-examined for basic academic integrity.  If the state desires to hollow out degree requirements, student preparation and the qualifications of faculty, then we have a fiduciary and ethical responsibility to make incoming students and peer institutions across the nation aware of the situation at the University.  I do not have a formal motion on this point, but it is an issue we should discuss.

    As noted above, the Senate, the faculty, staff and students have willingly worked to meet budgetary strictures in a cooperative and constructive fashion.  However, the current round of cuts poses a direct threat to academic standards, basic employment rights and undercuts standards of cooperative governance.    These are my observations following yesterday’s announcements and I, of course, welcome a vigorous discussion at our April meeting.  I am sorry such a drastic statement is necessary, but we can no longer be complicit in our own demise.  Thank you for any consideration and your continued work on behalf of the academic integrity of the University.

    Respectfully,

    Eric Herzik
    Professor and Faculty Senate Chair
  • 08 Apr 2011 11:47 AM | Deleted user

    For one hundred years, higher education has been a primary gateway to a better life for Americans. People with college degrees make more money, divorce less, live longer and secure a better future for their children than people without a degree.  In fact, despite its many flaws, the American system of higher education is the envy of the world, attracting students from every corner of the globe.

     

    And yet today, when the state of Nevada already has the fewest students who go on to college in the nation, it stands on the precipice of limiting access, reducing the quality, and narrowing the breadth of higher education for Nevadans.  If the Governor’s budget passes intact, consider the following:

     

                 UNR will lose 2 colleges, including the teacher preparation function of the College of Education; 8 majors; and with reductions in the Department of Mathematics students will be unable to get classes needed for graduation and professional training.

                 UNLV will lose 12 departments and 36 other degree programs, 325 positions including 135 faculty lines (102 occupied by tenure-earning faculty) and over 2000 currently enrolled students

                 NSC, who has lost 19% of its full-time faculty while growing 40% in student enrollment since 2008, will be forced to offer fewer sections of classes and increase class sizes by over 25%

                 DRI has suffered from substantial faculty losses, with 23 departures since 2008.  Without state funding to invest in recruitment, retention, and new research initiatives, this trend will continue, and will likely accelerate, into the coming years.  

                 CSN  expects a reduction of enrollment by approximately 2,478 FTE in FY 2013 and an estimated loss of 9,275 headcount, for 12,336 seats on top of the estimated 5,000 students already turned away in Fall 2010

                 GBC faces the elimination of at least 120 more sections or approximately 3000 seats in 2012 and an additional 60 sections or another 1,500 seats in 2013.  Over thirty positions will be eliminated.

                 TMCC already has condensed five academic units into two and expects to serve 6,000 fewer students.  From 2006 to 2011 TMCC has seen a reduction of staffing over 38%

                 WNC plans to close 7 satellite facilities, reduce the number of class sections offered and lose seven tenured faculty.

                 NSHE is considering a 12-13% hike in student tuition and fees for both 2012 and 2013, a cumulative increase of nearly 30%--on top of the 20% increase that has occurred in the last 2 years.

     
    This systematic dismantling of higher education is being done on the basis of false facts.  Before this recession, Nevada already had the smallest state general fund in the country (when viewed as a share of the state economy), the fewest public employees in the nation, and the fewest working in higher education. Further, Nevada state employees are not overpaid.  In fact, when educational level and work experience are taken into account, they are slightly underpaid.

     

    Moreover, the budget shortfall we are experiencing today may be a large share of our small state budget, but it is only 1% of our state economy.  The Governor asserts that state government spending is out of control; this is untrue given any comparative data.  The Governor has not considered options providing a balance of cuts and revenues.  In fact, his budget, by refusing to consider the so-called “Sunsetted Taxes,” removes revenues created to sustain the state through our unprecedented budget crisis.  The problem we face is not too big to solve, provided the Governor will come to the table to find a balanced solution. 


    In the face of these facts, the Governor claims that increasing taxes is bad policy, especially during a recession.  But again he is simply mistaken.  Economic theory and all the evidence contradict his premise.  These spending cuts will hurt the economy much worse, in both the short and the long run, than providing adequate funds for the universities, state college, and community colleges.  Indeed, the fact that Nevada has suffered in this recession more than any other states has not been because we spent too much on education, but too little.  Other states, even those Western states with severe housing bubbles, have recovered faster because they had a more educated population and were better able to adapt to new employment and investment opportunities.


    Finally, these actions are rooted in the wrong values.  The Governor’s budget is built on the notion that Nevadans are, and should be, only out for themselves.  It pits small business against government workers, parents against teachers, consumers against taxpayers, the old against the young.  But if, as this budget promises, a few of us succeed at the expense of the rest, we will all have failed.   Higher education is a public good. When one of us is educated, it benefits all of us.  When one of us is denied this opportunity, we all lose.  

     

    Given these facts, we believe that the Governor’s proposed budget is not an effort to solve a crisis, but rather an effort to use a crisis for ideological purposes, to take advantage of this recession to force a significant scaling back of public education.  We believe the advocates of this approach oppose the public university on principle.


    We, the faculty of the NSHE, declare that what the Governor’s budget proposes to do with higher education is wrong.  It is wrong on the facts.  It furthers the wrong values.  It charts the wrong course for Nevada’s future. 

© Nevada Faculty Alliance                                                                                                          Tel: 702-530-4NFA (4632)


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