On December 1, the Regents unanimously approved an 11% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for NSHE faculty, matching those for all other state employees. The Nevada Faculty Alliance passionately advocated during the 2023 legislative session for full funding of the COLAs. After the legislature deferred the decision on faculty COLAs to the Board of Regents with “not to exceed” language in SB522, we worked with NSHE and the regents toward full funding. That effort paid off with their approval of a 12% COLA for FY2024 and now 11% for FY2025, delayed to 10/1/2024 but applied to base salaries for the future.
We thank the Regents for recognizing faculty efforts across campus and helping us contribute to student success. However, the unanimous vote was the result of the voices of student leaders, who expressed their appreciation for faculty, and their willingness to increase their own fees. We are humbled and honored by their support. We also thank the 130+ members of the NSHE community who submitted written public comments and 35+ who gave oral public comments in support of the full 11%, as well as the faculty senates of the colleges and universities who unequivocally supported it. Finally, we thank our classified colleagues for their support–at a time when they are doing more with less. These shows of unity ultimately persuaded the presidents of CSN, GBC, NSU, TMCC, UNLV, UNR, and WNC to support the 11% option.
Unfortunately, the COLA increase does not address many of the cuts coming our way. Since the State of Nevada is only funding 65% of COLAs for professional and classified staff, the rest will come from delaying the faculty COLA by three months, suspending faculty merit raises for FY2025, increasing student registration fees by 5%, eliminating positions and keeping vacant positions open, and other budget cuts and transfers. CSN and UNR are projecting the most position eliminations, 20 and 108, respectively, with UNR accounting for roughly 75% of the proposed position cuts across the whole system.
Despite narratives that faculty COLAs are responsible for student fee increases, the COLAs for professional and classified staff are not the main reason for budget challenges. Major shortfalls at some institutions are due to declining enrollments, new executive positions and raises for executive staff, and diversions of resources from core academic programs to priorities such as athletics and capital projects. Stay tuned for more details from the NFA about budget issues.
The NFA’s immediate focus is to shift budget priorities back toward our core academic mission for the benefit of students and to prevent or rescind cuts to faculty and staff positions. Advocacy with the NSHE Committee on Higher Education Funding is essential for a new formula mechanism that fully funds higher education and fairly apportions state and student funding. Then faculty, students, presidents, the chancellor, and Regents need to form a united front at the 2025 legislature to implement and fully fund the new formula. We will also be organizing through collective bargaining as a tool for working with management to advance NFA’s mission to empower faculty to be fully engaged in our mission to help students succeed.
For further information, here are some NFA posts that were recognized by Regents as influential: