Nevada Faculty Alliance
 

NFA News Archive

  • 24 Sep 2012 4:58 PM | NFA AdminAssistant (Administrator)
    The Maxine S. Jacobs Foundation, the Nevada Department of Employment, Rehabilitation, and Training (DETR), and Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) will be announcing a public-private collaboration that will provide scholarships to qualified unemployed Nevadans. Funds will come from the Maxine S. Jacobs Foundation, recipient recruitment will be provided by DETR, and screening and instruction will be supplied by TMCC.

    Details on this scholarship program will be presented on October 2 at 10:00am at the V. James Eardley Student Services Center, Red Mountain Building on the TMCC Dandini Campus. Questions may also be directed to Kate Kirkpatrick at 775-673-7206 or kirkpatrick@tmcc.edu.
  • 14 Sep 2012 7:11 AM | Anonymous
    The NFA Political Action Committee is a state entity, but it can and regularly does make endorsements in federal races when there is a clear choice on higher education issues. This year, the NFA endorses the following candidates.

    Barack Obama for President. The Obama administration has made college affordability and national investment in higher education a priority since it entered office. The American Recovery and Revitalization Act of 2009 included hundreds of millions of dollars in federal support for public higher education in Nevada, which helped cushion the blow of the Great Recession on our students and institutions. Then, in March 2010, the president supported and signed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which redirected about $6 billion per year from subsidies to commercial banks to subsidize student loans into direct lending and into Pell Grants, which put students ahead of banks. This bill also included important reforms of student loans, limiting repayment in any given year to 10 percent of personal income, and forgiveness of debt remaining after 20 years of ontime payments (10 years in the case of public service workers). The administration has also been strongly supportive of community college students, with tax credits to offset tuition for retraining.

    Perhaps even more importantly, the Obama administration has stressed educational quality by imposing rules that require institutions eligible for student loans and federal aid to document that they prepare their students for "gainful employment" and that a sufficient share of their students are able to repay their student loans – thereby cutting down on the predatory practices of for-profit colleges which have become notorious for recruiting under-qualified students to receive federal loans, but providing no valuable education or job training.

    The Obama Department of Education also has strongly supported the college completion agenda, which has guided the System in the development of its new funding formula.

    In a second term, President Obama has proposed a new fund to support innovation in higher education, while also proposing to tie federal financial aid to limits on tuition increases. As an organization committed to quality public higher education and the faculty who deliver it, NFA is proud to endorse Barack Obama for re-election.

    Shelley Berkeley for Senate. Former regent and longtime supporter of the Nevada System of Higher Education and NFA, Congresswoman Shelley Berkeley has a record of working to keep college affordable and to support, in particular, veterans seeking to return to college merits our endorsement.

    CD-1: Dina Titus for Congress. During her prior term in congress, longtime University of Nevada, Las Vegas, faculty member and NFA member Dina Titus showed her commitment not only to our issues but to us as constituents, and we enthusiastically back her campaign to return to congress.

    CD-3: John Oceguera for Congress. The former Nevada State Assembly Speaker and a former student of no fewer than four NSHE campuses, Oceguera has taken positions in support of the president's agenda for college affordability and degree completion.

    CD-4: Steven Horsford for Congress. As Nevada Senate Majority Leader, Horsford showed himself to be a passionate, articulate and deeply intelligent advocate for students and for quality public higher education. He took the lead in 2011 in the successful campaign to reduce the deep cuts to NSHE that had been proposed by Governor Brian Sandoval. This year, he brought clear thinking, careful management and a shrewd eye for detail as chair of the most important state level discussion of higher education policy in a generation, the interim legislative funding formula study committee. Throughout that process, he repeatedly sought out input from faculty across the state, and in his campaign he has made a priority of advocating for college access and affordability. Even if his opponent had not taken the extreme position of calling for the abolition of the federal Department of Education – and with it all federal financial aid (which is the case) – Steven Horsford would still be the clear choice for Nevada's new fourth congressional seat.
  • 05 Sep 2012 3:28 PM | Anonymous
    Our Political Action Committee has endorsed candidates in each of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents' races currently on the ballot. With so many important issues facing NSHE and its faculty, this year more than ever we undertook our considerations with great care, research and consultation with board officers and members. We urge all who support quality, affordable public higher education in Nevada -- and the faculty and staff who deliver it -- to support the following candidates:

    District 1: Cedric Crear. Regent Crear earned our endorsement in his first campaign for the board in 2006, and we are pleased and honored to extend our continuing endorsement for his re-election this year. Crear has been a leader on issues important to faculty such as diversity, equal opportunity and transparency, and he has been a consistent voice on the board for the System to pursue vigorously restoring competitive compensation and adequate health benefits for NSHE faculty and staff. He has always been accessible to the NFA and to faculty generally, and we expect he will become an even more significant voice for our concerns in his second term.

    District 4: Stavan Corbett. We are pleased to endorse Corbett, currently the president of the state school board and a career advocate for education, particularly for higher ed outreach to the Las Vegas community. He has worked at both the College of Southern Nevada and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and during the campaign, he has been diligent in his effort to prepare to address the issues currently facing the board, attending board meetings regularly as well as meetings of the legislative funding formula study committee. He has emphasized to us, in his written questionnaire and in his interview, that he would work to support all NSHE institutions and help each institution take on and achieve its specific mission. This is an open seat, the first in NSHE's history to have a majority Latino electorate, and Corbett's election would make the board more representative of the Nevada population.

    District 12: Andrea Anderson. We endorsed longtime NFA member Andrea Anderson, who served as an administrator at CSN for many years, in her first campaign in 2010, and we are pleased to extend a continuing endorsement this year, as she campaigns for a full 6-year term. She is very familiar with many of the concerns faculty face, especially issues of compensation and health coverage, and she has been very accessible to faculty leaders and the NFA on a wide range of issues.

    District 8: Michon Mackedon. Mackedon is a recently retired faculty member from Western Nevada College and a well-known and widely admired community leader in Carson City and the surrounding region. She would bring a fresh voice to the board, combining a career's worth of commitment to quality, affordable higher education in northern Nevada with an appreciation for our crucial principles of academic freedom and shared governance
  • 29 Aug 2012 1:11 PM | Julia Hammett
    The Collective Bargaining Team of  the Truckee Meadows Community College chapter of NFA spent  several weeks in the spring of 2012  in contract negotiations with the TMCC administration. Negotiations with TMCC’s administration were forthright and productive throughout the process. The NFA negotiating team included Scott Huber (former chapter and state NFA president), Bill Newhall (former chapter president), Jim Richardson (NFA state lobbyist) and me.

    The main features of the contract were a number of clarifications regarding the roles of department chairs, the composition of faculty search committees, ensuring equitable treatment of faculty teaching “fast-track courses” and a consolidation of all “additional assignments” under one set of guidelines. All of the items negotiated were based on the desire to increase equity, transparency and accountability in the contract on behalf of all faculty at TMCC. At the beginning of July TMCC and NFA signed their newly revised 2012 contract.

    One outstanding issue remains to be negotiated in the coming year regarding occupational program coordinators so that their compensation is consistent and more equitably reflects workload. Program coordinators are currently developing a formula proposal that will be comparable to the one that exists in the contract for department chairs. TMCC President Sheehan has agreed to revisit this issue in one year’s time and give it more careful consideration when the Program Coordinators’ proposal is complete.

    In May 2012, TMCC elected new officers for two-year terms. Besides me (president), they are Bill Newhall (vice president), Julie Muhle (secretary) and Jamie Campbell (treasurer). In the coming year, our chapter will focus on growing membership numbers, reestablishing several key committees (membership, bylaws, and communications) and working with our colleagues throughout TMCC to rebuild our sense of community at the college.

    Like other institutions in the NSHE system, TMCC has suffered losses of faculty and staff over the last several years, with very few new or replacement hires. Such losses have been challenging, not only from the standpoint of teaching effectiveness and increasing workloads, but also as a psychological hardship on the rank and file.

    We began our Fall 2012 year with a reception on Aug. 20th  in honor of three recently tenured faculty and eleven newly hired tenure-track faculty. That was followed by a “Teach-in” on the newly revised contract.

  • 29 Aug 2012 11:43 AM | Anonymous
    Last Wednesday, the legislative Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education held its final scheduled meeting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, beginning with public comment at 9 a.m. It reviewed the work of its three subcommittees, which studied, respectively, the Nevada System of Higher Education's proposed alternative formula, the proposed performance pool and the prospect of pursuing local funding for the state's community colleges.

    Last Friday, even before the committee completed its work, the Board of Regents held a special meeting to approve NSHE's budget request to the governor for the 2013-2015 biennium. That budget request is based, to some degree, on the Chancellor's base formula proposal, in that it uses the allocation outcomes generated by one of the many simulations that the System has run during the committee's deliberations.

    The regents' action seems to have confused several of the local news reporters, who covered the meeting and reported both the projected allocations and the "per-pupil funding" values as if the allocation levels were already adopted and as if enrollment/course completion figures were fixed and stable from year to year.

    But the biggest news concerning the NSHE budget request, which none of the printed stories picked up on, is that when one considers the actual request to the governor, no campus is actually projected for anything close to a cut – because the amounts actually requested for all campuses (in columns 2 and 3) include, per the governor's instructions, restoration of the 2.3-percent pay cut for all faculty and staff, the restoration of the 2.5-percent loss of compensation due to the furlough/unpaid leave, and the restoration of a performance-based merit pool equal to 2.5 percent of total payroll on each campus.

    We are pleased to note, in passing, that the chancellor's budget proposal treats the money requested to restore and enhance salaries, as we had encouraged in earlier posts, as direct allocations to each campus' base budget, to be allocated over and above the formula-determined allocations.

    This is very welcome news for all faculty and staff, who must now prepare to justify and advocate for this potential restoration of compensation in the 2013 legislature.

    Friday's action is not a particularly surprising development, as it suggests more or less what many have expected about the 2013 budget request all along: that it would be based upon figures not directly generated by any formula, old or new, and would closely resemble the share of the NSHE budget allocated to each campus in FY '12.

    Thus, with the Regents' budget request out of the way, the study committee has a very real opportunity in its final meeting today to look not at the very near-term of the 2013 allocations, but rather at the longer-term principles underlying the formula, and to recommend ways to clarify and resolve the technical issues of discipline weighting, course completion definition, and the implementation of the performance pool. It should do so not with an eye towards the upcoming legislative session but rather to the one after that. 

    ... And the one after that. And the one after that.

  • 20 Aug 2012 3:41 PM | Anonymous
    As the legislative committee reviewing the Nevada System of Higher Education's formula for funding its institutions prepares for its final scheduled meeting next Wednesday, some consensus is emerging on the policy principles that new formula should embrace. Work remains, for the committee and eventually the legislature, to put those principles into practice by hammering out the all-important technical details of how the formula actually builds a budget for NSHE institutions.

    The three subcommittees of the legislative committee studying the state's funding of higher education have completed their work on the funding formula, the performance funding pool and local funding for community colleges, respectively.

    The subcommittees reviewed the latest version of the Nevada System of Higher Education's proposal for an alternative formula, including version 20 of the proposed performance pool and the report and recommendations of the committee's consultant, SRI International. Each subcommittee will report to the full committee at its final meeting next Wednesday, Aug. 29.

    The committee's work has generated little press attention, but the Las Vegas Sun did run a story on the most recent round of subcommittee meetings, which offers a good run-down with a headline that advertises, with a bit of sensationalism, "heated debate" over the new formula.

    For those observing the process closely, a solid degree of consensus has emerged on most of the major policy questions, and it is important to underscore those principles, as distinct from any projected allocation. After all, the governor and legislature will assuredly tinker with proposed allocation amounts, but sound principles are more likely to be accepted and acted upon as a lasting basis for a more credible, functional and effective formula in the future.

    The principles listed below appear, based on the public discussions of the committee to this point, to be the essential principles on which the 2013 legislature is likely to construct a new formula , if not for the 2013-2015 biennial budget than for the future.

    After seven months of intensive work by the System, its constituent campuses, the governor's office and the committee, major points of agreement that have emerged dictate that the new formula should...
    1. take the politics out of higher education funding as much as possible by replacing the old complicated and opaque formula with something transparent and credible;

    2. separate student fees from state allocations, with no offset or sequestration of state support to campuses that enhance student-derived revenue.

    This separation of fees and state allocations would end the misnomer of student tuition and fees as "state support" in the NSHE budget – although the legislature would continue to audit how NSHE spends revenue from students. This principle would be a significant step forward, because it would respect student choice and reward academic prominence by allowing programs and campuses that generate more student revenue to devote it to instruction on those campuses.

    3. use Nevada dollars to fund only Nevada students, by excluding non-resident students from the formula – and from state allocations.

    Campuses would determine on their own, and within their own budgets, whether to offer scholarships or aid to recruit from out of state but could no longer, as is currently the case, offer scholarships to recruit out-of-state students that would increase their own formula allocation.

    4. fund instruction and student success rather than building maintenance or other functions.

    The new formula should focus on base funding on completed student credit hours rather than, as in the past, enrollment, students services or building maintenance. Those functions are essential but secondary to the primary goal of students completing credits and degrees.

    5. produce an outcome that is  equitable across all regions of the state and proportional to institutional mission, as measured in state support per full-time equivalent Nevada student.

    6. include a component based on outcomes specific to each campus's or each tier's mission.

    This component of the formula appears likely -- based on subcommittee discussions and votes taken to this point -- to be funded by carving out a share of the base NSHE allocation, rather than based on an enhancement allocation of state funds. Specifically, the performance subcommittee voted last week to recommend the introduction of the performance share of the formula in the FY2015 budget (ie the second year of the next biennial budget), when 5% of the NSHE formula funding allocation would be distributed based on performance. (That share would be calculated, presumably, on 2012-2013 data, rather than the 2010-2011 data that has been used in the System's proposal document.) Each year, for the next four years, an additional 5% f the NSHE formula funding would be allocated based on this component, until FY2019 when it would drive  20% of the formula allocation.

    The specific weights and measures of the outcome-based, tier-specific formula remain unfinished, and it is unclear if the System or the legislature would set the final weights and measures for the performance pool, or whether the System, the campuses, or the legislature data would collect, verify and report the data.

    The "sparring" referred to in the Sun is primarily over a rather technical series of questions that have more to do the process of building a budget than with the educational principles of student attainment and degree completion, or of institutional performance. So on Aug. 29 the committee will have to discuss what if any recommendations to make concerning...

    1. how to weight student credit hours completed on each campus and whether those weights should reflect the cost of instruction in a given discipline or the alignment of a given discipline to the state's economic development plan.

    The System's proposal is based on the work of an external consultant, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, which – as explained at the last meeting – used both relative weights across disciplines from other states that study cost (primarily Texas as well as Ohio, Indiana and Florida) and adjusted to promote certain policy priorities, such as enhancing the weight given at some levels of instruction for credit hours completed in certain disciplines, specifically science, technology, engineering and health courses. Several committee members have noted that this list does not include all seven elements of the state's economic development plan, so that list may be expanded to include fields such as logistics, business information systems, hospitality and entertainment, and mining.

    An alternative approach, suggested at the subcommittee meeting last week, would be to adopt the weights from another state, such as Texas, that does a cost study of the relative cost of each discipline. At the final committee meeting on the 29th, the consultant, SRI International, will offer a comparison of the weights in the NSHE proposal with those used in Texas and other states that use a cost study to generate their relative weights.

    2. how to define the "completed student credit" that is at the heart of the base formula proposal.

    The formula funding subcommittee has come to a consensus that students who fail courses by ceasing to participate ought not be counted towards completed student credit hours, and the most basic definition of completion therefore has been attendance past 60 percent of instruction (i.e., Fs count if the student attended 2/3 or more of the semester). However, there is not a standard data set for the entire System to use this measure, and some subcommittee members expressed a desire for a more precise measure of student and institutional effort than merely 60 percent attendance.

    3. whether the base formula ought to be based entirely on student credit hours completed or whether some money should be carved out from the formula allocation to be distributed based on factors specific to certain institutions, namely the "small institution factor" for GBC and WNC or the "research factor" for UNR and UNLV

    Some members of the committee have proposed running the new formula based entirely on the single factor of instruction at disciplinary weights that would be based as directly as possible on cost. Then "factors" for small institutions or research institutions, which, in mathematical terms, mitigate impact of the NCHEMS weights on some campuses, should be considered as temporary components or permanent parts of the base formula.

    4. when and to what extent the new formula should be implemented.

    The System has proposed, and the committee seems to support, that the new formula should be phased in over a four-year period, with approximately 25% of the formula allocation to be based on the new formula for year 1. (It has not been discussed if the remaining 75% would be based on the old, discredited formula or on the "base" of the FY12 or FY13 allocations (which in turn were determined largely by the old formula). Another approach would be to run the new formula for 100% of the allocation but apply additional, "stop-loss" funding to those campuses which would see a decrease in appropriation, namely the northern community colleges.
    In any event, it seems clear that the proposed NSHE budget for 2013-2014 (the first version of which is to be revealed this Friday at the special Board of Regents meeting,  9 a.m. at Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas) is unlikely to represent much of a shift in share of allocation for each campus.

    Hopefully, the primary difference from the legislatively approved 2011 budgets will be the restoration of full funding for faculty and staff compensation, which has been cut 4.8 percent for the past four years, and the restoration of a merit pay pool, as proposed by the governor.

  • 19 Aug 2012 5:12 PM | ADRIAN HAVAS
    This summer, there have been some developments concerning possible – and fairly dramatic – changes to the Community College Salary Schedule.

    Last spring Chancellor Klaich formed a system-wide committee to review our salary structure. This review is required by Nevada System of Higher Education code and was delayed a year given our frozen schedules. This panel consists of a representative from every institution in the system; we are represented by Professor Carolyn Collins and John Scarborough of Human Resources. At the end of spring semester, Carolyn presented a report of the committee's task to the College of Southern Nevada Faculty Senate.

    In the last few days, I have been in touch with the Faculty Senate Chair Chuck Milne, who tells me that this committee's work has been fast-tracked, and that the regents want a final report by their Sept. 6-7 meeting at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. He tells me that our current "step" system may soon be replaced by a combination merit/cost-of-living adjustment system, controlled by a college committee. 

    Carolyn has told me something different, that the September timing is for "agreeing on the percentage increase the salary schedule needs to be raised." A report on this may be ready by September and then sent to the regents at their December meeting. She added that, as to changes in the CC salary structure, there was no intent to have those done in September. She believes that this will probably take longer -- indeed, likely past December if there is to be any change.  

    So, the process is either moving fast or slightly slower, but big changes are likely in the works.

    I wanted to communicate the following points: 

    • Any move away from the step/range system has the potential to divide the ranks of CSN faculty and demoralize our professional colleagues – who have received no cost-of-living adjustments, or scheduled step raises since 2008-09. In fact, we are continuing with a 5-percent pay reduction, just signed contractually.

    • We strongly think all the community colleges should remain on the current step salary schedule.

    There is deep concern that any incorporation of merit pay into our existing salary structure will be subjectively manipulated by deans, chairs and/or other administrators to improve their bottom line financially. With the overtly political atmosphere known to exist at CSN, I believe this can and will happen. 

    NFA board member Scott Huber was blunt about this in a recent conversation I had with him:  "It will be a political disaster if we open up the merit in the colleges.  Unforeseen things will happen, and it's likely deans will determine 'merit.'"

    As for our own faculty senate chair, Milne told me that such changes should not be feared, that they would not negatively affect anyone doing a good, commendable or excellent job; the committee making the decisions would act in good faith and won't be influenced by the administration. Like Huber, I tend to disagree that this process will not be politicized.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Be advised that NFA stands ready to oppose any measures that will so negatively affect our members, and community college faculty generally. There is a meeting at convocation scheduled to discuss these measures, and I suggest you try to be there.  I would also urge you to send your concerns in writing to NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich as well as the individual regents.
  • 19 Aug 2012 4:22 PM | Deleted user
    Dear colleagues and readers,

    Later this month, I will assume administrative duties in the office of the Provost at UNLV, as Vice-Provost for Faculty, Policy and Institutional Research. In accordance with NFA state bylaws, I will become an associate member and step aside as board president. As of that date, Angela Brommel, our elected vice president, will become NFA state board president. Angela and I have been working on a transition plan that will make her NFA president effective upon my resignation and culminate in the regularly scheduled state board meeting on September 14th. Those aspects of UNLV-NFA and NFA communications that have been my endeavor, including this blog, will be turned over to other officers and to our communications committee.

    While logistically I will withdraw from the role of the president (and chair of the southern endorsement committee) at that time,  and step aside from the state board after more than five years of service, my interest in and commitment to faculty advocacy and the work of NFA -- as well as my personal commitment to all of you, especially those I have worked so closely with for the past few years -- will not cease.

    I remain available, at the request of NFA officers at the chapter or state board level, to provide any sort of guidance, information or support that I can provide to the board -- especially for the important period of the 2013 legislature, when we will be actively advocating for restoration of faculty compensation.

    (Naturally any discussion of legal defense issues, especially concerning UNLV, must take place outside of my knowledge to avoid any conflict of interest.)

    Upon the start of the university academic year, the NFA will communicate to its members and readers important developments over the summer in the governance of the organization and important steps the executive committee has taken to put the NFA on a sound financial and organizational footing, which has been our primary governance goal for several years. It is therefore a propitious moment for me to step aside, as well as a necessary one given my new position, which will still be one primarily of service to UNLV and NSHE faculty, but which of course is incompatible with a formal leadership role in the NFA.

    As I prepare to step aside, please allow me to close by thanking you -- colleagues, members, fellow officers, general readers, and especially those of you with whom I have worked closely for several years -- to express my heartfelt thanks, my respect and affection, and my continuing commitment to our shared values.

    In solidarity,

    Gregory Brown

    President, Nevada Faculty Alliance, 2011-2012
    Vice-President, Nevada Faculty Alliance, 2009-2011
    President, UNLV Faculty Alliance, 2009-2011
    Secretary, Nevada Faculty Alliance, 2007-2009
    Co-Chair, NFA PAC Endorsement Committee, 2006-2012
  • 01 Jul 2012 11:55 AM | Deleted user

    Although many faculty and students are away from campuses for the summer, the important work of the interim legislative Committee on the Funding of Higher Education is entering its most important phase.

    At
    the most recent meeting of the full committee, on June 27, the committee heard the Nevada System of Higher Education’s final and apparently complete proposal for an alternative formula, including version 17 of the performance-based funding component developed by the System in conjunction with the National Governors’ Association. At the heart of this proposal remain two principles that have broad support in the System and, it appears, on the committee: student fees should not be a factor in formula calculations of state allocation, and only Nevada residential students should be considered in those calculations.

    First, revenues from students, whether residential fees or non-residential tuition, should no longer be considered, as they have been, part of the state allocation to any campus; consequently, the formula should not offset any campus’ state allocation as a function of student fee or tuition revenue. In other words, the new formula should allocate state general fund dollars based upon state priorities, and individual students should allocate their contributions based upon their choices of campus and program. Second, Nevada state funds should be allocated in support of Nevada residential students, not non-residential students, whose enrollment and tuition contributions would not be factors in the new formula at all.

    The NSHE proposal represents a significant departure from the old formula, notably in its reduction of the formula largely (though not entirely) to one variable's ability to determine the distribution of funds – completed student credit hours on each campus. Variables which played a significant role in the old formula, such as maintenance costs, faculty costs, library resources, and student services, all would give way to instruction.

    (Although a significant portion of the NSHE state allocation would remain outside the formula, including allocations to professional schools, statewide programs, and athletics. Prioritization of requests for capital (i.e., buildings) would remain an entirely separate budget process, not necessarily based on an instructional formula)

    In the NSHE proposal, each completed student credit hour would have a uniform value on each campus, calculated as the formula allocation divided by the total number of credit hours earned across the System. Actual allocations to each campus would result from a series of weights for different groups of disciplines, with lower-division, upper division and masters’ level and doctoral level courses having slightly different values within each discipline.

    The System’s representatives have been questioned by committee members about why the proposal would include “F” and “I” grades as completed courses. The System has argued that community college students are more likely to receive F grades and may need additional support from the institution, whereas, it has argued, university students are more likely to complete courses with passing grades. This has led to some discussion among committee members as to whether the community colleges should receive an enhanced weight for certain categories of lower-division courses, such as remedial courses. This could be achieved by modifying the System’s proposal into separate scales for lower-division courses at the universities, the state college and community colleges, a common practice in other states

    The performance-based portion of the proposed new formula does use separate scales for the colleges and universities, which are divided into distinct “performance pools” based upon the mission of each tier in the System. (Thus, DRI and NSC each constitute a separate pool, based on their respectively separate and distinct missions). Within these pools, each institution would be awarded points based on mission-specific variables, such as degrees or certificates awarded (or in the case of community colleges, students who transfer out with at least one years’ worth of credits). Some graduates or transfers would be weighted more heavily, such as those eligible for federal Pell Grants (an indicator of low-income), degrees in areas that have been designated as central to the state’s economic development strategy, and (for the universities) the amount of sponsored research expenditures. Each variable in each pool in the proposal has been assigned a weight, based upon the perceived significance of that variable to the mission of institutions in that pool. In the end, each institution, based upon the percentage of points it would earn in its respective pool, would claim a proportional share of the funds in that pool.

    The System proposal has left up to the governor and the legislature, in the budgeting process, to determine if the performance pool would be funded with a share of the state’s general fund allocation to NSHE (a “carve out”) or from a separate, enhancement allocation (a “set aside.”) Until that decision is made, it is impossible to know how the new formula would allocate a given level of state appropriation. Earlier simulations were run on only the base formula proposal.

    Also on the 27th, the Committee heard
    the fourth and final part of the report of its consultant, SRI International. This report, as stipulated in the consultant’s contract, describes how other states handle such as issues as student-derived revenues (i.e., tuition and fees), “course completers,” “performance-based funding,”  and allocation of state support. SRI’s report did not propose any specific values for how the formula ought to distribute state money; it instead recommended a vision for what the state ought to try to achieve with its formula for higher education funding.

    The written consultant’s report, which remains a draft subject to revision based upon feedback from the committee, was accompanied by an oral presentation. Key points included the following:

    1.    An endorsement to the System’s proposal that the formula allocations be kept separate from student tuition and fees, as consistent with national best practices.

    2.    A recommendation that Nevada dedicate sources of revenue other than the state general fund allocations to provide a stable and adequate basis of higher education funding in the long term – specifically:

    o       local and regional support for community colleges to enhance state support, and

    o       dedicated statewide revenue for the Knowledge Fund to support the research universities, DRI and Great Basin College.

    3.    A recommendation that state support be allocated entirely based upon instruction and degree completion, with no other variables such as the cost of operating space or sponsored research expenditures being used to determine state general fund allocation. (The consultant noted in the oral presentation that the “research factor” in the NSHE proposal – a 10% weight applied to upper division and graduate credit hours earned at the universities – risked creating confusion about its purpose. SRI suggested instead that upper-division and graduate credits at the universities simply be weighted more heavily, so that the formula proposal would more transparently highlight its focus on instruction.)

    4.    A recommendation that the formula be constructed to allocate additional resources to support the high number of students who take remedial courses at community colleges. Moreover, the consultant recommended that local oversight boards could help the community colleges more closely align to regional workforce needs for “mid-level skills.”

    5.    A recommendation that two-year colleges, as well as Nevada State College, be more directly focused on fulfilling the System’s access mission and that the formula create an incentive for a larger share of first-year instruction to be at those institutions. Students at two year colleges intending to continue towards a four-year degree would be steered towards honors courses at the college level. The consultant also recommended testing of learning outcomes at the two-year colleges to guide those institutions in better preparing students seeking a four-year degree for upper-division courses at a four-year institution.

    6.    A recommendation that the universities become "more selective” and the formula create an incentive to offer only those entry-level courses that could not be offered at an access institution (i.e., a community college or the state college). Accordingly, the consultant recommended, the formula should weight student credit hours in upper division and graduate courses at the universities more heavily to create an incentive for those institutions to focus on that mission.

    7.    A recommendation that the formula more closely align all tiers of the System with the state economic development plan; for instance, by enhancing the weights for student credits and degrees earned in disciplines that directly support the 7 designated sectors in the Economic Development plan.

    8.    A recommendation that the performance-based or outcome-based portion of the formula be used to allocate no less than 25 percent of state general fund support in the short term, and over a period of several years, that share grow to up to 100 percent. The consultant also recommended against any “hold harmless” funding, so that the incentive to the institutions – and the message to the state -- would be clear and transparent. In the oral presentation, the consultant noted that much of the national literature on performance funding in higher education does not consider student credit hours as outputs but rather inputs, and he suggested that a truly outcome-based formula would be concerned only with completed certificates, degrees and transfers. (This approach has been implemented fully only in Tennessee, which converted its formula to an entirely “outcome-based” approach in 2010.)

    In the next few weeks, three subcommittees of the main committee will meet to prepare recommendations for the final committee meeting, scheduled Aug. 29, when a final report will be prepared. The three sub-committees, which have begun to meet and will each meet again at least twice, are charged to consider, respectively: 1. performance pool, economic and workforce development and research; 2. community college funding; and 3. the NSHE proposal and SRI report for a new funding formula.
  • 30 Jun 2012 8:47 AM | Anonymous
    The College of Southern Nevada chapter of the NFA recently elected a new slate of officers, who begin their terms June 1. The new executives are as follows:
    • President: Adrian Havas
    • First vice president: Geoffrey Frasz
    • Second vice president: Vasile Munteanu
    • Treasurer: Patrick Villa
    • Secretary: Diana Clennan
    The position of third vice president remains unfilled. The executive board may fill it in coming months, according to Havas, an English professor at the college.

    "I'm looking forward to the next two years," Havas said. "Clearly, our chapter is in a rebuilding mode. But I'm confident with the additional resources available to us from our updated arrangement with AAUP and support from the state board we will be able to achieve big things."

    "I would add that none of those things will happen unless more of our own membership steps up, gets more involved, and demonstrates real unity and courage moving forward."



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