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.