Nevada Faculty Alliance
 

NFA News Archive

  • 08 Jun 2016 3:00 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    After the last legislative session, NFA applauded the compensation increases that were given for faculty, while stressing the need for full funding of merit, as had been our position during the session. We argued that if the state did not fund merit, the system or the institutions should.

    The following was NFA testimony to the Regents, delivered by NFA President Jim Strange shortly after the end of the legislative session. We continue to adhere to this position and fight for merit.

    Statement:

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance urges the NSHE Board of Regents, Chancellor Klaich and the Institution presidents to fund a 2.5% merit increase for NSHE professional staff for each year of the coming biennium. Awarding of merit should proceed according to policies approved at each institution. Awarding of meritshould under no circumstances be detrimental to existing professional positions.

    • Since 2008, NSHE professional staff have endured reduced salaries due to reductions to base pay, furloughs, and a lack of merit pay funding or COLA, while experiencing higher workload.

    • All NSHE employees should be treated equally in terms of merit funding. Nevada classified employees received a merit (step) increase of 2.5% in each year of the coming biennium, whereas NSHE professionals received no merit increase. Awarding merit unequally to NSHE employees will not be beneficial to morale, and could negatively impact our service to students and communities.

    • As Nevada recovers economically, it’s only fair for NSHE professionals be recognized and compensated for their sacrifices during the recession.

    • Nevada is losing its regional competitiveness in its ability to attract and retain high quality professional staff. This has left NSHE institutions at risk of not achieving the levels of student success, transformational research, commercialization of technologies and workforce development which are crucial to Nevada’s economic future.

    • Community college faculty have recently moved from the traditional step system for salaries, and revised evaluation systems to accommodate a true merit-based salary system. Failing to award merit in the first year of full implementation of the new true merit system would be detrimental to morale and call into question the validity of the new system.  

  • 18 Apr 2016 2:39 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    In an election held in late March and early April, full-time faculty at College of Southern Nevada voted for collective bargaining, 263-126. On April 15th, the American Arbitration Association counted the votes and certified the result.

    "We are very proud and excited that our colleagues at the College of Southern Nevada have chosen to stand together and form a union with AAUP. We look forward to working with them to ensure faculty has a strong voice on campus," commented Howard Bunsis, Chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress.

    "We look forward to sitting down at the table with the administration in the fall to discuss faculty working conditions and student learning conditions," said David Steel, NFA-AAUP Executive Director.

  • 14 Oct 2015 1:17 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    NFA Position on Part-Time Faculty


    Whereas part-time faculty contribute professional knowledge and experience in their disciplines to higher education in Nevada, provide vital support to students’ learning and degree-seeking or other program-completion goals, and collaborate with full-time faculty and other NSHE colleagues in common cause to fulfill their institutions’ mission; yet, whereas in recent decades, part-time faculty have seen greater institutional reliance on their services be rewarded by increasing levels of economic exploitation and unprofessional treatment accompanied by decreasing levels of work and career support; and, whereas this widening gap of inequities dividing part-time and full-time faculty threatens the commonality of professional interests shared by all classifications of faculty--academic freedom, shared governance, protection of tenure rights, and employment due process--

    Be it resolved that Nevada Faculty Alliance will advocate on behalf of part-time faculty by promoting on campus, before the Regents, and in the state legislature those policies, programs, and values that will improve pay, working conditions, and other key aspects of contingent employment in NSHE colleges and universities. NFA further resolves to invite its part-time faculty members into the advocacy process, as consultants and voters in determining priorities for activism, and to represent agreed-upon proposals as a strong voice for our colleagues who, in just concern for reprisal or retribution against them for supporting their own cause, are willing to be so represented. NFA believes that strengthening our alliance with part-time faculty can in time reverse the trend in NSHE toward hiring disproportionately high numbers of non-tenure-track faculty and will preserve the traditional model and values of tenure, the keystone to academic freedom in higher education.

    In accordance with this resolution, we adopt the following five-point program as a guide to our advocacy work on behalf of part-time faculty employed at NSHE institutions:


    Pay

    1. Part-time faculty salaries should be incrementally raised until such time as part-time faculty are paid a salary proportional to that paid full-time tenure-track faculty of the same qualifications for the same classroom work, bearing in mind that full-time faculty perform numerous non-teaching duties. If part-time faculty are required to do non-teaching work, they should be compensated for those tasks


    Working conditions

    2. Part-time faculty should receive a full orientation and should be eligible for professional development opportunities. They should be provided suitable office space, office supplies, and library and other campus privileges, and should have access to secretarial and technological support services including computers and copying machines. Part-time faculty may have to cobble together several jobs to sustain themselves and, therefore, NSHE institutions should provide them with priority parking or discounts on parking permits where appropriate to help offset their time demands and to help them meet their teaching duties


    Categorization

    3. Part-time faculty should be defined as employees of the college or university, not as independent contractors. Accordingly, they should have unemployment insurance available to them when they are not on the college payroll.


    Seniority

    4. Part-time faculty who have passed a probationary period should achieve a form of seniority, including longer contracts and priority in class assignment over less senior part-time/adjunct faculty. Part-time faculty with a successful track record in teaching should be given special consideration in evaluation for full-time positions for which they are qualified.


    Collective bargaining

    5. Part-time faculty should have the right to choose collective bargaining.  


  • 14 Sep 2015 4:30 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    Nevada Faculty Alliance

    Statement on the Proposal to Reduce the Notice of Dismissal of

    Administrative Faculty

     

    Glenn C. Miller, President, UNR Nevada Faculty Alliance, for the

    Nevada Chapter of the Faculty Alliance

     

    The NSHE Regent Agenda lists a discussion item regarding the reduction of notice for dismissal ofadministrative faculty from up to a year to 30 to 45 days.   The Nevada Faculty Alliance strongly opposes this change in policy for the following reasons.

     

    1.  Administrative faculty are critical to the functioning of each unit of the NSHE and need to have the ability to make decisions and recommendations that are thoughtful and independent, even if they do not always agree with the respective central administration.   Administrative faculty are highly trained professionals and the decision on whether they should be terminated should have a high barrier.  Most go through national searches, and can be dismissed early following their hiring, or even later if severe issues arise, similar to academic faculty.   But, reducing their job security based on the whim of an upper administrator is entirely wrong.   These people have functions that are critically important in many functions of the university, from protecting students from harm, or ensuring that we are in compliance with local, state and federal laws.    We should not have them looking around to determine if they are going to do something that is not supported by the upper administration, and have a threat of being dismissed within 30-45 days.

     

    2.   What is the problem that is being solved by this new dismissal policy?   This has worked well for many years, although we know that the administration of several (if not all) of the NSHE units would have liked to have this policy in place during the difficult recession times.   But, we survived those very difficult times, and there is no reason to change the policy at this time.    For the remainingadministrative faculty on state-funded positions who make decisions that are critical to the operation of the university, we need to maintain a high barrier for their dismissal.   30-45 days is not a high barrier.

     

    3.   Hiring highly qualified people in these positions will be increasingly difficult if they are subject to the whims of the upper administrations.   While a president, provost or dean may be in their positions for a long time, they change on a regular basis, and a highly qualified person may be reluctant to come to UNR if they know they can be dismissed on a whim in 30-45 days for no reason if a new supervisor is hired.   The best people will come to the best institutions of higher education when they know they will have time to find a new position of the current position is untenable.  If there is not security in a position, then they simply are unlikely to come to units of the NSHE.

     

    4.  This policy change will increase the ability of the central administration of each unit to increase what faculty perceive as a top-down management style.   If administrative faculty need to look over their shoulder each time to determine if their decisions are supported by the upper administration, they are unlikely to make difficult decisions that are correct, but controversial.   At UNR when the funding formulas were changed and now depend on student tuition, many administrative faculty were converted from a 1 year dismissal policy to 30-45 day.  We have seen administrative faculty dismissed following that conversion.  Two examples- one was the very able legal staff who helped faculty secure patents for intellectual property.   They went form 1 year dismissals to 30 day dismissal contracts, although they were generously give 60 day dismissals.    One administrative faculty member who had worked for 25 years in the seismology department came up against a new administration, and she was dismissed with the simple statement that the funds supporting her position were being redirected.   She had never been criticized for her scientific ability or her work ethic, but had a strong personality.   She was dismissed under the 30 day policy. 

     

    The regents simply should not change the policy for new administrative faculty.   It is contrary to the notion that a unit of Nevada’s higher education system has independent minds working for teaching, research and service to one that has a top down management with narrow vision that one view of the world is how higher education will be delivered.    Diversity of opinion is a critical component of higher education and we all need to protect this core vision.


  • 01 Jul 2015 6:45 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    "I would like to thank you and the other members of the NFA leadership for the advice and counsel during the last academic year regarding Faculty-in-Residence workload issues.  I appreciated receiving objective and fact-based opinions that assisted in resolving the issue amicably."  


    Prof X, UNLV


  • 15 Jun 2015 6:53 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    By David Steel, NFA Executive Director

    The 2015 legislative session has come to a close. There were several victories for faculty, including a restoration of base pay via the elimination of furloughs. NFA would like to thank the many members who gave their time and effort in the session.


    Here are the results on the legislative priority issues adopted by the NFA State Board January 2015 (no order):


    * End furloughs

    Furloughs, which amount to a 2.3% salary deduction, are set to end July 1, 2015.


    * Ensure adequate NSHE funding, particularly the merit pool

    NFA sought a merit pool amounting to a 2.5% increase each year of the biennium. No money was initially included in the proposed budget for faculty raises. NFA along with faculty senates and NSHE fought to change this. The final result was that, although merit was not funded, faculty will receive a 1% across the board raise in July 2015 and a further 2% in July 2016.


    The legislature also found money for bridge funding for WNC and GBC, the UNLV law school, the UNLV medical school, the UNLV hotel college building, as well as new need-based scholarships. Further, the State increased the retirement contribution by 1.25%, which although meaning a decrease in immediate compensation as faculty mandatory contribution will increase by the same amount, ultimately increases overall compensation.


    While the overall result of the session was a substantial increase to the higher education budget, NFA continues to believe that full funding of merit is an important objective that will boost Nevada's regional competitiveness in hiring as well as faculty morale. Faculty have seen slashed and stagnant wages for years since the Great Recession. The increases granted in this session, while a welcome change, will not return NSHE faculty salaries to their former ranking vis a vis those of faculty in other states. Accordingly, NFA President-elect Jim Strange presented a statement authorized by the NFA State Board to the NSHE Regents on June 11th, calling for merit to be funded either by NSHE or at the institution level.


    * No outsourcing distance education

    No plans to outsource distance education were proposed in the session.


    * Preserve or enhance PEBP benefits

    PEBP rates will increase starting July 1, 2015, with the amount depending on coverage level, from $2.74 per month for employee only PPO CDHP coverage to $27.80 per month for a family coverage HMO plan. The wellness program, which previously allowed the possibility a $50 per month benefit, was also eliminated.


    * Preserve payroll deduction and arbitration rights for public employees

    The proposed bill AB 182 would have eliminated both payroll deduction and arbitration rights for public employees. NFA along with many other organizations representing state employees opposed the bill. In the end, AB 182 was defeated. The more moderate collective bargaining reform bill, SB 241, which passed, will not impact these core features.


    * No campus carry

    Early in the session, AB 2, which would have allowed guns in vehicles on campus, and AB 148, which would have allowed guns on campus, appeared to have significant momentum. AB 2 was amended into AB 148, which passed the Assembly. NFA testified against both bills, and was the only party to introduce statistical evidence into the record. The evidence showed that campuses in states with campus carry were not made safer by the introduction of guns to campus.


    AB 148 died in the Senate, and AB 487, which reprized AB 148, met a similar fate.


    Reactions from NFA leaders:


    The composition of the legislature made this session an uphill struggle for faculty. There was a threat that the Governor's proposed budget would be gutted by a mutiny in his party, and prospects for enhancements to the Governor's budget seemed dim, particularly in the realm of faculty salaries. Campus carry appeared a fait accompli. Yet in the end there was some money given for faculty above the Governor's initial budget, and campus carry was defeated. As an organization we did what we could and I think we can be proud of the result, given the circumstances.”

    - NFA Executive Director David Steel


    This 2015 legislative session turned out fairly well in the end for NSHE faculty, even though it was something of a white knuckle ride though most of it. We are disappointed in the lack of merit funding for NSHE professionals. Next session the NFA will focus on improving its lobbying presence and continue fighting for a proactive agenda on behalf of NSHE faculty.”

    - Incoming NFA President Jim Strange


    I commend the legislature and especially the Governor for funding higher education, ending the furloughs, and a token Cost of living raise. Yet with so many of the faculty still paid at 2009 wages, with weak health insurance, and inadequate retirement plans, I can't help thinking we are only placing cookies before a chimney in the hope that Santa will bring us a New Nevada rather than truly funding a system where well-compensated professionals develop our state's workforce into one that can support a balanced economy.”

    - Incoming NFA Vice President Rob Manis


    The most famous (or infamous) bill was AB 148, the pet project of Michelle Fiore, assemblywoman from southern Nevada. NFA testified against the bill, held rallies at UNR and UNLV, prodded the new UNLV President into issuing a strong statement against the bill, lobbied legislators, and worked with students, the university administration and the Chancellor's office to stop the bill.”

    - NFA-UNLV Chapter President John Farley


  • 09 Mar 2015 4:12 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    by Glenn C. Miller, UNR NFA President


    Merit pay, salary compression and pay equity continue to be major concerns at UNR, as they are in most units of the NSHE. While all would agree that the Governor’s budget has some distinct enhancements for education overall, the lack of merit pay in the budget has long term consequences for maintaining competitive salaries for both academic and administrative faculty. This concern is magnified when state classified employees are receiving step increases.


    Since about 1985, merit has been a priority for the NFA, when Jim Richardson and others negotiated that merit increases should be part of the governor’s budget. Prior to that time, pay for faculty in the NSHE was comparatively low, compared to similar public institutions throughout the country. Following the establishment of merit, salaries rose to the point that NSHE faculty salaries were consistently above the average in these surveys, up until 2009, when salary increases effectively stopped. Thus, the absence of salary increases in the governor’s budget is an unwelcome precedent for faculty.


    The UNR NFA Board met with President Johnson and Provost Kevin in mid-February to express those concerns. Both the President and Provost had similar concerns about merit pay and were very supportive of efforts by both the NSHE lobbying team and others to promote the need for restoration for merit. They indicated that the lack of merit would continue to erode the ability of UNR to hire and retain high quality faculty and also indicated that the lack of merit that would probably need to be addressed by the Regents, or individual units of the NSHE, even if the legislature does not restore merit.


    Salary compression and equity is becoming problematic also, as faculty who arrived prior to 2009 have not seen consistent salary increases, and new faculty are being hired at pay grades that are very close to what faculty make who have been working here for 5 years or more. The president and Provost also recognize this problem and indicated that this will also receive focus, although it will cost additional money that is now in short supply.


    As Administrative Faculty were dismissed or moved to other sources of funding during the lean times in recent years, many found that they had been moved from State funding to less secure funding (from tuition, fees or other non-state money). Administrative faculty on state funds are given a one year notice for termination, except in unusual circumstances, while faculty on non-state funds are given as little as a 30 day notice, even if they have worked at the university for 20 years. These changes have dramatically reduced job security. In at least three cases over the past 3 months, administrative faculty have been dismissed with 60 days or less notice. Since state money has been reduced by over 30%, and each institution is now allowed to retain out-of-state funding, the proportion of administrative faculty on 30 day notices is expected to increase, compared to when the Nevada State budget included many of these positions under state funding. Even if an administrative faculty member was hired on state funds, if they were switched, they were most often given a contract with a thirty day dismissal provision.   

  • 06 Mar 2015 7:44 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    Good morning. My name is David Steel, Executive Director of the Nevada Faculty Alliance. I am here to express the NFA’s opposition to the campus carry bill AB 148.


    Campus is a relatively safe place. For example, in 2013 the number of aggravated assaults on campus at UNR was 0, as compared to 338.4 per 100,000 population off-campus in Reno. Statistics for murder, forcible rape, and robbery are similarly disparate.


    The argument may be that, no matter how good the campus safety situation is, campus carry could improve it. However, the statistics for states that have campus carry show that it does not. In Utah in 2003, there were 8.8 forcible rapes on campus per 100,000 students. In 2004 campus carry was introduced and in the following decade the average forcible rapes per 100,000 students has been 11.3. The result is similar for other types of crimes, and the same pattern holds for other campus carry states. So there is no evidence that campus carry improves safety.


    The United States grants rights to gun owners, but these in and of themselves do not justify campus carry. Take for example the University of Virginia's position adopted October 1824 that “No student shall, within the precincts of the University... keep or use weapons or arms of any kind, or gunpowder.” That decision is notable because among those on the Board that took it were Thomas Jefferson, the second President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and James Madison, the fourth President, known as “the father of the Bill of Rights.” These founding fathers clearly did not believe this restriction to violate the rights they institutionalized.


    We also believe that AB148 is likely to have unintended financial consequences for higher education and local law and medical agencies in terms of personnel, equipment, and the oversight of implementing and accounting for the bill. Where would this additional funding come from as we are just beginning to restore funding to state agencies?


    It is for these reasons that the NFA is strongly opposed to AB 148.


    Thank you.

  • 25 Feb 2015 6:28 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    by Angela Brommel, NFA President

    Today is National Adjunct Walkout Day in solidarity of part time faculty all across the nation.  The NFA didn't organize a walk out, but we have been walking the halls to hear the stories of members and future members. Since David Steel joined us as Executive Director we have added 60 new members -- and new members keep signing up. David also hired a part time faculty member in the north as an organizer to help reach our colleagues on all tracks. At the January State Board meeting we also voted to hire another organizer in the south. We also have one more open position for an organizer in the north. The state board also has a seat for part time faculty representatives. Our current faculty leader in that seat is Art Lynch.  A huge thank you to our organizers, state and chapter leaders for fighting the good fight for all of us.  Solidarity!

  • 25 Feb 2015 5:57 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    Guns on campus? 


    by John W. Farley, President UNLV chapter of NFA and Tim Bungum, Professor, UNLV Dept of Health Promotion


    A number of bills have been drafted or proposed in Carson City that might result in more guns on campus.  Current Nevada law allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring a gun onto an NSHE campus only if the gun owner has the explicit permission of the college or university president. In practice, the president delegates that decision to the campus chief of police.  The UNLV chief of police explained to a meeting of the UNLV Faculty Senate that  if an incident occurs, the campus police chief wants his officers to be the only armed force on the scene.  The task of the university police would be hindered, not helped, by the presence of other armed individuals. In real life, as opposed to the movies, it is not always easy to distinguish immediately a good guy from a bad guy. 


    While NFA has not developed a position on every proposed bill, in the past NFA has strongly supported the existing law, and strongly opposed changing the law to make it easier to bring a gun on campus.  In the last legislature, NFA, the NSHE presidents, and the Chancellor and the Board of Regents were all in agreement on this issue.


    A useful perspective that has too often been absent from the debate is the public health perspective, aimed at harm reduction. David Hemenway is a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he directs the Injury Control Research Center. His research on gun violence was reported in his 2006 book, Private Guns, Public Health. Hemenway seeks pragmatic solutions that reduce the number of gun deaths, rather than assigning blame. His is a public health perspective, not a crime perspective. Hemenway found that  homicides are frequently impulsive acts, in which the convenience and ready availability of guns allows a confrontation that otherwise would result in a black eye or broken tooth to results instead in a tragedy.


    The Hemenway book has a chapter on guns in school, including the following important points:

    1. Our schools are safe, but not as safe as schools in other similar countries.

    2. 30-35 students are killed by guns in a typical school years (at school).

    3. All school killings involved guns (in one study).

    4. About 6000 kids a year are expelled for bringing guns to school.

    5. Kids who bring guns to school are more apt to smoke, receive poor grades and have guns in the home.

    6. All kids who killed at school had easy access to guns.

    7. College males who own a gun are more apt to engage in reckless behavior involving alcohol, drive while intoxicated, distrust the police, damage property and sustain an alcohol-related injury.

    8. In places with more guns, more students report being victims of gun threats than in other places.

    9. Surveys show that most people believe that they will be less safe if more people have guns.

    10. Most states that made carrying laws more permissive showed slight increases in homicides.


    A summary of the entire Hemenway book includes three documented findings:


    1. Arming citizens appears to increase rather than decrease lethal violence.


    2. Permissive gun laws appear to be detrimental to the health of the public. 


    3. More than 90% of adults in one survey expressed the desire to outlaw guns on campus.

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