Public Comment, Legislative Commission Budget Subcommittee, 1/27/2023
By Kent Ervin, State President, Nevada Faculty Alliance
The Nevada Faculty Alliance is the independent statewide association of professional employees at NSHE colleges and universities. This is our 40th anniversary year. Since 1983, we have been working to empower our members to be fully engaged in our mission to help student succeed.
We are encouraged by the Governor’s recommended budget for NSHE. The restoration of the pandemic cuts to operating budgets is essential. The boost to graduate assistant stipends is essential for their progress toward degrees. The other enhancements are important. NFA strongly supports full funding of the Governor’s budget for NSHE, to provide for the workforce pipeline for Nevada including career and technical education but also professional teachers, nurses, engineers, scientists, doctors, dentists, accountants, managers, lawyers, public-health & hospitality workers, policy-makers, future faculty, and so on.
But GovRec does not fix the long-term sustainability of higher education for Nevada’s students. The funding per Weighted Student Credit Hour in the report just presented is 6% lower than in FY2020 after adjusting for inflation. That degradation of WSCH funding puts pressure on NSHE to raise student fees, which no one wants. Therefore, we also support the study of the funding formula to provide for sustainably for higher education as a common good.
State employment is in crisis with unprecedented vacancy rates. At NSHE, we can’t keep faculty and staff. The overall turnover rate is 14%/year. The woefully inadequate compensation for state employees including NSHE faculty and professional staff must be addressed. The 8% + 4% Cost of Living Adjustment in GovRec is a good start. But comparisons with our peers indicate the COLA needs to be more than doubled just to bring salaries up to average. We must support our human capital.
The Nevada Faculty Alliance is the statewide independent association of professional employees at the colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The NFA is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO. The NFA/AAUP represents faculty collective bargaining units at the College of Southern Nevada, Truckee Meadows Community College, and Western Nevada College, with advocacy chapters at Great Basin College, Nevada State College, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the University of Nevada, Reno. The NFA advocates for higher education as a common good, academic freedom, and empowering our members to be fully engaged in our mission to help students succeed.