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NEVADA FACULTY ALLIANCE


ESTABLISHED 1983


NFA News & Opinion

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  • 09 Jun 2024 8:25 AM | State Board (Administrator)

    The following submission is from NFA member and UNLV Professor Gregory Brown and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NFA State Board.

    Dear colleagues and friends,

    I'm writing you on a matter of some importance and which I believe is important to discuss, so I hope you will indulge me to read this letter. I am writing to explain the intent, language, and effect of the amendment approved by the Board of Regents to  the above-numbered section of the NHSE Code, which serves as our faculty handbook. I am writing you about this, because you signed an open letter to the Board opposing this change, and since it has now passed, and since I advocated strongly for it, I feel you are entitled to an explanation of why and more importantly why I believe you need not feel concerned that your academic freedom or free speech will be encroached and why, perhaps, you may view the practical effect of this with sympathy and support. 

    Some of you I know very well and some I do not, so I feel I want to explain my own positionality to start. I am a 26-year faculty member at UNLV, an historian of European and World history, a former head of the chapter and state level Nevada Faculty Alliance, a former faculty Senate chair, and formerly Vice Provost for Faculty and Policy. I am someone with quite a solid track record in defense of academic freedom, shared governance and faculty rights in general. Ive testified in federal court on behalf of faculty tenure rights, and I served on an AAUP national committee on the defense of tenure rights and academic freedom. I am also a Jewish-American and one of the founders of the recently recognized Jewish Faculty and Staff group, which is part of the Office of Diversity's affinity group program and as such a member of the Presidential Advisory Council's subcommittee on diversity. I hope therefore that you will accept my comments below in good faith and based on a decent amount of experience working in these issues. 

    I have also over the past 8 months been an advisor to leaders of the campus's small Jewish student population, which is only several dozen students, and which includes a number of Israeli students (as well as Israeli faculty and staff). I have been consulted by them since last October, when some of them found themselves, in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks on Israel, subject to hostile treatment and asked in some cases in classroom environments to explain aspects of Israeli policy and history for which they should not have any particular knowledge or responsibility. In other cases, they found themselves ostracized within student life, excluded from certain student clubs, and in a few cases subject to minor but clearly worrisome attacks on their person and property. (This was in the days while the attack was still going on, long before any armed response from Israel by the way.) As the weeks went by, these students felt -- whether rightly or wrongly -- targeted on campus, through social media and through rhetoric that they considered to be aggressive, hostile and in some cases violent. In no case did I or anyone seek or advocate for anyone to be punished for such actions (with the exception, of course, of the incident in which a visiting scientist had his lecture shut down, in clear violation of university free speech policies.) In many cases, I advised students to understand that hostile language on social media is something they can ignore, or in other cases, explained to them the history and significance of slogans or symbols that they considered hostile. In all cases, I urged them to do three things -- to avoid confrontation (including to stay home on days of large demonstrations by groups which chose to engage in rhetoric they found offensive), to report any actual physical or emotional harm done to them or negative impact they may have experienced on their education and thirdly and most importantly, to engage in dialog, to listen and to share their views non-confrontationally. I have regularly had lunch with these students, met with them privately, received personal communications, and generally did what any faculty member would do, which is to  help them understand the world around them.

    I do think that among the individuals who spoke on the matter at hand, I am the only one to have had such close relationships and to provide support to those students.

    As you may know, the group of faculty with whom I have been working held a few open conversations, on topics such as Jewish Identity at UNLV, the prospect of Jewish studies curriculum at UNLV, on interfaith dialog ("How to be a peacemaker"), and on the occasion of Israeli independence day, a visiting speaker who is a senior Israeli reporter who had been reporting from Israel and Gaza, on the current conditions there as he saw them. Many of these students attended, participated, and learned. These have been open events, announced to the campus, and to which all students and faculty have been welcome.

    I have also attended events organized by other groups, including the Jewish Law School student association, and events organized by students engaged in advocacy for a cease fire and on the question of genocide (both very well run events organized by students whom I commended and with whom I engaged in quite detailed and thoughtful discussion). I have engaged in discussion with students of very different backgrounds and points of view -- or often no point of view at all -- in the first year course on the history of Zionism that I taught last spring. 

    Finally I have had many meetings and conversations with the office of Student Diversity Programs, the Office of Diversity, the Provost´s office, the President, the University Police, and community partners to encourage de-escalation of rhetoric, and try to encourage educational initiatives. 

    I therefore feel that my engagement on this question is not merely on the particular issue of the Code amendment.   

    The proposal that was put forth, debated and eventually approved by the Regents on Friday was discussed in the petition you signed as an action to "adopt" a particular definition of antisemitism. I do think that particular definition is defensible, and I did write a memo in support of it, which I will take the liberty of attaching here. But I do not think the issue is properly represented as an adoption of any particular definition, because the measure proposed was to adopt the provisions of federal civil rights law adopted by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, with respect to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. That action, by executive order of the president, does refer to -- as does the Code amendment approved by the Board -- the most widely adopted definition, which is referred to commonly (though not entirely accurately) as the "International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance" (IHRA) definition. And for that reason, the compliance with civil rights regulations as set forth in the US DOE OCR "Dear Colleague Letter" of May 7. 2024, does refer to that definition as one basis for determining discriminatory intent. But it does not criminalize criticism of Israel -- this is stated plainly in both the definition itself and in the Code amendment -- and does not in any way make it possible for a student to be expelled or a faculty member to be terminated based on criticism of Israel. Indeed, the point I wish to make to you is that the idea that this is fundamentally about Israel at all is not accurate.

    As the text of the amendment itself, which I will past below and attach, it was  a measure that was brought forth, defended and eventually approved not to change or adopt a particular definition of antisemitism -- but to add the language of the Office of Civil Rights -- to the Code in the paragraph that states the NSHE principles of anti-discrimination. 

    That article begins with the following sentence: 

    "The Nevada System of Higher Education is guided by the principle that there shall be no difference in the treatment of persons because of race, religion, color, age, sex (including a pregnancy related condition), sexual orientation, military status or military obligations, disability (whether actual or perceived by others to have a disability including veterans with service-connected disabilities, or national origin, and that equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all."

    The amendment then inserts this sentence (which I reproduce in its entirety)
    "This extends to individuals who experience discrimination (including antisemitism* ) based on their actual or perceived: (i) shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics; or (ii) citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity "

    This language comes directly from US Dept of Ed Office of Civil Rights title VI regulations. The only element of the above that does not come directly from the OCR is the insertion of "(including antisemitism)" though that is clearly a part of the meaning of the OCR guidance. (The OCR guidance, using the above-cited language, also includes specific reference to Muslims and Palestinians.)

    So the opposition is to the inclusion of a basic statement of civil rights already established under federal law. The letter that you signed wondered why this language was being inserted now, seemingly to the exclusion of discussion of other forms of discrimination, and I think the answer is clear -- because those were already present in the Code. They were already present in the Code because, as the lawyers among you will I hope agree, they had been and remain a part of federal civil rights law and compliance procedures. 

    What is new is that this new language was adopted to provide specific protection to groups that, I believe, there is universal assent ought to be protected, including (but not limited to) Jewish students and faculty. Because the Civil Rights Act of 1965 did not specify religion as a protected group, there was a need to find a way to interpret the law to extend this protection to groups, including but not limited to Jews, who are both a religious group and an ethnic identity. The somewhat awkward language in bold above was the solution, and this was adopted by executive order of the president, beginning in 2019 by then-president Trump  and reaffirmed in May 2023 by president Biden.

    It is precisely because the main thrust of the amendment is to specify the protection of the civil rights of Jewish students that I advocated for the amendment and why I had hoped that others would as well. Indeed, the letter you signed states your support for the principle  of protecting Jewish students and faculty from antisemitism, and so it would have seemed to me helpful to have specified in the letter or in other public statements that the language above -- again the language that is already adopted by the federal government for purposes of civil rights protections. Indeed, it is my hope that you might be willing to make such a statement, individually, or collectively, of your support for the "principle¨ that "there shall be no difference in the treatment of persons because of"....being Jewish and the extension of the principle of "access to facilities for all" to include Jews. That, for me and for the students who spoke on behalf of the item, and for the majority of the Regents who voted for it, is the key point. That  is what the university was already required to ensure and what the University will, I hope, continue to do so. It is therefore to my mind a very good thing that attention has been called to this legal and moral responsibility.

    The second part of the amendment is where, I believe, the objection lies. This is a small modification to a footnote used to describe "antisemitism" as it appears in the language above. In December 2022, the Board voted to insert into section 2 of this same chapter -- again the chapter deals with anti discrimination and section 2 deals with anti-bias training for faculty and staff -- a reference to antisemitism as being among the forms of discrimination to be addressed in this training. At that time, the footnote was inserted to specify that the antibias training should refer to the IHRA definition and associated examples. That reference has been in the Code since December of 2022, so it would not be accurate to say it was being "adopted" or "added into the main body of the Code" through this action. It remains in a footnote. 

    The textual amendment added some language that specified that this would not be, as you have expressed concern, a restriction on free speech. I reproduce below the footnote, which is by the action of the Board  now moved from section 2 to section 1, and I have highlighted and bolded the added language.

    “Antisemitism” refers to (i) the non-legally binding working definition of anti-Semitism [sic] adopted on May 26, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and (ii) the "Contemporary Examples of AntiSemitism" identified by the IHRA, to the extent they might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intentConsideration of the materials described in (i) and (ii) shall not diminish or infringe upon any right protected under Federal law or under the First Amendment and shall not be construed to conflict with local, federal, or state lawDeterminations that a particular act constitutes illegal discrimination or harassment requires detailed analysis of the particular facts at issue and consultation of applicable legal and regulatory guidance . "   

    Note that not only does this language specify that there  is infringement upon First Amendment protected speech but it also specifies that the examples of the IHRA definition cannot be used as basis for determining discriminatory intent or harassment without "detailed analysis of the particular facts at issue and consultation of the applicable legal and regulatory guidance." In other words, the concern that a "process of simple ´matching´" would be used to prosecute or punish faculty or students is explicitly counter-indicated in the text of the amendment. And again, for those who are familiar with the handbook, extensive process exists in other parts of the Code for matters such as discipline of student or faculty, so  this passage would not be the basis for encroachment upon academic or free speech is, not only in my view of but that of the System Counsel, as she explained at the Board discussion on Friday.

    The bulk of the letter you signed is fundamentally about the philosphical question of the "IHRA" definition in relation to other possible definitions. And certainly there is a good basis, always, for further discussion and debate. And in that debate, which I hope we will have, I would be eager to make  the case for at least some of the aspects of the IHRA to which your letter objects, notably the examples that do specify instances in which holding Jews accountable for the policies of Israel or criticism of Israel that is not applied to any other country, could be considered antisemitic. You may be interested to know that while the letter dismisses the 7 of the 11 examples that refer to Israel as being not related to "antisemitism", the Jerusalem Declaration devotes 9 of its 15 "principles" to consideration of Israel. I do not think it is either intellectually sound or fair to suggest that there can be a discussion of antisemitism and protection against harassment of Jews without some reference to Israel, and in particular I would suggest that the provision holding that it could be discriminatory to hold individual or group s of Jews responsible for policies of Israel is a quite valid concern. 

    The attached memo explains the history of this definition, which was first developed by specialist scholars on antisemitism in 2003 and was known for most of its history as the "EUMC" definition, referring to the European Union Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia, which adopted it in 2005. This was in turn adopted by European Union parliament and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (to which the US is a party) the same year, and it was adopted in 2013 by the United States Department of State for the purpose of determining if a foreign country should be considered to have a problem of antisemitism in its culture. It was also adopted in 2013 by the United States Department of Defense in 2013 for purposes of anti bias training of the armed forces. It was, in turn, adopted in 2016 by the IHRA and since then it has been adopted by over 40 countries, over 1200 cultural and educational institutions, and over 350 American universities. It was adopted by the US as part of the national antisemitism strategy in 2019 and included in the 2023 expansion of that strategy. In no instance in any of these jurisdictions has anyone been prosecuted or disciplined for speech critical of Israel based upon this definition. (There are jurisdictions in Europe in which Holocaust denial or antisemitism is illegal, including the Federal Republic of Germany, but in no cases has anyone been prosecuted by virtue of the IHRA definition.) Indeed the European Union prepared and published in 2021 a Practical Handbook for the Effective Use of the IHRA Definition (which I have attached) which includes explanations of the real-world examples of each of the "contemporary examples," which are not actually that vague or abstract in light of the actual cases laid out here. Moreover, it includes a page on best practices for the use for which the Regents adopted it on Friday, for reporting and compliance (page 19) and it includes a 3-page section on best practices for use in educational institutions and universities (page 27-30), none of which are as speech codes or to restrict academic freedom. Indeed, the primary author of this definition did as your letter indicates, state that it should not be used to inhibit speech, as did former AAUP president and leading academic freedom advocate Cary Nelson, and this is precisely why the use adopted by the Board does not and could not, in any "detailed analysis," be used to punish anyone for speech. It could be used to identify a "pervasive and persistent" environment of harassment (the standard used by the Compliance office in title IX or title VI investigations) but it could not be used to punish someone for a use of speech that is critical of Israel or even which calls for the "dismantlement" of Israel.  

    But hereś the key. The code amendment did not -- despite the somewhat inaccurate headline in today's LVRJ -- adopt a definition of antisemitism at all. This is not only because the IHRA definition had already been adopted, by the Federal government, and this is included in the DOE OCR guidance. Therefore, if the case is to be made to adopt a different definition, in the context of title VI compliance, that case is being made in the wrong venue by opposing the NHSE Code Amendment. That case should be made to the federal government, and if that is your intent, fortunately, there is a presidential election this year. There is also of course the option of litigation against the federal government for adopting this definition as an encroachment on 1st Amendment protected speech.

    But as one of the Jewish student leaders said to the Board on Friday, "Why should explicit protection of my civil rights as a Jewish American be set aside so there can be a philosophical debate about a definition"? IF the Board were to adopt the same article with a reference to the Jerusalem Declaration, any compliance reporting to the Department of Education or any response to a title VI investigation would have to be based upon the federal government's definition, which is to say, in reference to (not necessarily based upon) the IHRA definition. 

    Finally, for those who wish to enter into the specifics of the competing definitions, the primary substantive differences are that the IHRA definition does specify that statements which question the "right of the Jewish people to self determination on its ancestral homeland" could be considered antisemitic, while the Jerusalem definition notes that the right of "Jews as individuals" to self determination "in equality" with others would be possibly antisemitic. The IHRA definition uses as an example the statement that "Israel is a racist state" as an example of possibly antisemitic speech and that calls for the outright destruction of Israel do imply violence against Jews and could be considered antisemitic. The Jerusalem definition does not. Thus, as I have said to some of you already, if the concern is that you feel you will be restricted from saying "Israel is a racist state" or calling for the "destruction" or "dismantlement" of Israel, then yes there is a substantive difference in the two definitions. BUT this does not mean that under an environment in which IHRA has been adopted as a working definition, such as the one in which we have been living since 2019, you would not be able to say those things. They are stil protected by the First Amendment, and I personally would continue to advocate for your academic freedom to say those things. 

    But I would ask you to consider how that sounds to an Israeli student or colleague. Or if you state that as a Jewish student or I as a Jewish faculty member are responsible for the actions or policies of Israel that you consider racist, I do think that is hostile. Not illegal. But hostile. If stated in a persistent and pervasive manner, that could certainly create an environment in which access to education or the ability to do ones job could be inhibited.

    If you are still reading, I will close with this. I supported and celebrated the adoption of this amendment. And if it turns out I am wrong and you find yourself or anyone you know finds yourself in a position in which your speech is being curtailed or in which you are being punished or disciplined for criticism of Israel, please let me know. I will be among the first to help, and I will draw on my experience as an advocate for faculty rights and for academic freedom. I can also request the assistance of the AntiDefamation League on your behalf, as could you, as the ADL regularly provides support and assistance to students or workers facing discrimination based on their Muslim religion, Arab cultural heritage or otherwise. And of course you can count on the ACLU and the NFA to protect you if it is a matter of prosecution based on political speech.

    But Id like to ask something of you, colleague. Having signed a letter stating your concern about antisemitism, can I ask for your help? Can I ask for you to help students who are fearful? Can I ask you to help launch a discussion on campus about antisemitism -- a serious, intellectual and historically informed one? One that actually looks to decades of scholarship in this field and applies the principles of anti-racism that we apply when we discuss anti-Black racism or harassment of LatinX or Asians? 

    That is the issue on which the Regents voted on Friday, and in my opinion, they made the right decision. You may disagree, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss. Please feel free to reach out, by email or phone, and please raise concerns, objections, objections of moral outrage to what I have written or said. The campus has had a difficult year for many reasons, not least that many are afraid to discuss this issue. Lets stand against that fear and silence and lets not treat each other as hostile entities, but as colleagues. I look forward to talking to you.

    Additional resources from Professor Brown:

    Dear Colleague Letter_ Protecting Students from Discrimination, such as Harassment, Based on Race, Color, or National Origin, Including Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics (May 7 2024)

    Handbook for the practical use of the IHRA working-definition

    IV-8-1

    On the IHRA definition

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance welcomes contrasting points of views and appreciates Dr. Brown's feedback. NFA condemns bigoted and hateful behavior in all forms. 

  • 04 Jun 2024 5:31 PM | State Board (Administrator)

    UPDATE, June 12, 2024: On June 7, 2024, the Nevada Board of Regents, by a vote of 7 to 6, amended the Board of Regents Handbook's anti-discrimination policy to include language specifically identifying antisemitism based on the IHRA working definition and examples. The NFA State Board rejects and abhors antisemitism and continues to support statements from the ACLU and AAUP that oppose adoption of the IHRA definition. Our position echoes that of AAUP in their letter to the US Department of Education.  In the event that this new policy is not applied as its many supporters have testified, the NFA is prepared to defend any faculty member who is unreasonably accused  of discrimination based on the IHRA definition or examples of antisemitism. We look forward to working amicably with all students and faculty at our NSHE institutions to foster an environment that encourages free speech and avoids any discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin, and recommit our members to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion.  


    ORIGINAL POST, June 4, 2024: At their next quarterly meeting on June 6 and 7, the Board of Regents will consider an amendment to the Handbook’s definition of discrimination so that it includes “citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity, and permit consultation of the [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of ‘antisemitism’ and accompanying examples thereof.” It begs the question, could criticism of Israel and/or the Israeli government be considered discriminatory of Jewish people and the Jewish faith? The proposal, which has been submitted by Regents Joe Arrascada, Byron Brooks, and Stephanie Goodman, aims to add the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and specific examples to the Handbook which governs the Nevada System of Higher Education. The definition is already included in mandatory anti-bias and anti-discrimination training for Regents and NSHE employees.

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance condemns antisemitism in all its forms, just as we condemn all forms of discriminatory and hateful behavior.  However, we vigorously oppose this proposal for infringing on the first amendment rights of free speech and freedom of religion, and we encourage all higher education employees in Nevada to voice their opinions to the Board.

    The definition developed by IHRA provides examples of what can be considered antisemitism, but explicitly references Israel. Ironically, the author of the original definition on antisemitism that is used by the IHRA, Kenneth Stern, testified in Congress against enshrining the definition into any law because the definition “was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a college campus.” Instead, the definition was only meant to be non-legally binding guidance.

    Indeed, the definition is not universally accepted even in the Jewish community. More than 1,300 Jewish college and university faculty members from across the United States have signed a statement that rejects the IHRA working definition because “[c]riticism of the state of Israel, the Israeli government, policies of the Israeli government, or Zionist ideology is not - in and of itself - antisemitic.” The group acknowledges there are differing opinions on Israel, even within its own ranks, but it cautions against the dangerous belief “that Jewish identity is inextricably linked to every decision of Israel’s government.” Instead of combating antisemitism, this notion may have the inverse effect and actually intensify the real threats Jewish Americans already face.

    Other definitions of antisemitism exist, including the Jerusalem Definition developed by Jewish academics. It is unambiguous in its simplicity and makes no link between Jewish people and institutions to the government of Israel. Similarly, the Nexus Project, which has published multiple documents designed to guide policy makers in the fight against antisemitism, opposes using the IHRA working definition to formulate policies and laws.

    In their submission, Regents indicate they have consulted with Jewish student organizations about this proposal, but we know of no outreach to Jewish faculty who are equally, if not more, exposed to antisemitic behavior. It appears the Regents submitting this proposal may have failed to recognize that Jewish NSHE faculty can provide valuable insights when forming a policy such as this.

    NSHE is not the first place where ideological groups, motivated by former President Trump’s Executive Order 13899, have moved to enshrine this language into educational governance. Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a letter to the US Department of Education urging them to reject the IHRA definition in any rules, policies, or practices for enforcing civil rights because it “conflates protected political speech with unprotected discrimination, and enshrining it into regulation will chill the exercise of First Amendment rights and risk undermining the agency's legitimate and important efforts to combat discrimination.” 

    Besides the obviously unconstitutional aim of suppressing the right of individuals to criticize government activities, the IHRA definition is ill-suited as the basis of a policy because it is simultaneously too ambiguous in one sense while being too specific in others.

    First, the handbook change would include “citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity” as a potential basis of discrimination. There are a number of countries around the globe that have dominant religions or a distinct religious identity, such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and others. Could this definition lead to an assault on free speech for far more than one nationality and curtail objective, rational discussions of international current events, politics, art, and literature in the future?

    Second, it does not make sense to codify into the handbook incredibly specific examples of antisemitism that make direct references to a specific country without doing the same for other types of discrimination. 

    College campuses are places in which students learn and create their world views. It is imperative that we keep free speech paramount on our campuses and encourage students, faculty, staff, and community members to understand that their words can literally be dangerous - something we have said to the Board in the past regarding oppressed identities. In other words, it is our responsibility to teach and remind students, and each other, of the weight that is our right to free speech, not to dictate what we can and cannot say as members of public higher education in Nevada. 

    The NFA echoes the ACLU’s objections when they stated, “[a]dopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism would lead to more censorship on campus, and change the nature of universities, which exist to promote the free flow of information and marketplace of ideas.“ We will vigorously defend the rights of all Nevada faculty members and students to engage in free speech and the uncensored exchange of ideas. It is a pillar of our mission as an organization, and a foundation of our profession. 

    As stewards of higher education in Nevada, the Board of Regents should reject this proposal.

  • 21 May 2024 5:30 PM | Jim New (Administrator)

    At their May 23, 2024, meeting, the Nevada Board of Regents will consider a resolution to delegate their authority in litigation matters to the Chancellor. While Nevada laws permit such delegation, and several public bodies have adopted similar resolutions delegating litigation decisions to executive leadership, this proposal gives the Chancellor and the NSHE Chief General Counsel blanket authority over litigation decisions with little, if any, oversight by the Board. It only requires the Chancellor to consult with the Board Chair. There is no mandate that the two must agree. Similarly, there is no requirement to keep the other members of the Board informed. Alarmingly, the resolution states that the Chancellor would have the authority to make any decision “consistent with the advice of the Chief General Counsel.” That is, it appears to delegate real authority to the Chief General Counsel, not the Chancellor. 

    There is no argument that delegation is often necessary. Nevada’s Open Meeting Law makes it untenable for Regents to confer as a body on all litigation within the deadlines set by courts. Previously, the Board delegated this authority to the Chair who was charged with seeking approval from the Chancellor and the General Counsel. The new proposal, generally, reverses those roles, delegating authority to make litigation decisions “to the Chancellor, after consultation with the Board Chair and consistent with the advice of the Chief General Counsel.”

    As presented, this resolution would apply to all litigation, including lawsuits initiated by NSHE on behalf of the Board, not just those where NSHE is a defendant.

    The NFA recommends that Regents amend the resolution to authorize delegation ONLY when time does not allow consideration by the full Board. It should also require that the Board Chair approve decisions by the Chancellor, not just be consulted, and that the full Board be informed once a decision has been made. The Board Chair should retain the right to seek additional legal counsel and not rely solely on the advice of the NSHE Chief General Counsel. If the Board Chair disagrees with a decision of the Chancellor pertaining to litigation, the matter should automatically go before the full Board. Furthermore, NSHE should not initiate any legal action without consideration by the full Board of Regents. 

    Regents have the fiduciary responsibility for the Nevada System of Higher Education. A blanket delegation of authority over litigation abdicates a significant portion of that responsibility. It should not happen. Once established, the delegation of authority would be difficult to reverse. Consider the consequences of the worst possible Chancellor and General Counsel, not the current ones, having authority over litigation under any possible circumstances effectively without Board oversight.

  • 20 May 2024 11:22 AM | Kent Ervin (Administrator)

    Reimagining the Formula: A Win-Win for Students and Institutions, not Winners and Losers

    Part 6 in a series analyzing proposals being considered by the NSHE Committee on Higher Education Funding. These articles delve into various proposals the Committee will consider on May 30 and finalize on July 25. The NFA has issued a set of fundamental Principles for Funding Higher Education.

    The recommendations here from the Nevada Faculty Alliance are presented in good faith as ways to improve the funding formula and meet achievable goals. We appreciate the Committee’s difficult task and hard work. Our shared concerns are in serving students across the state, especially those in underserved areas. 

    One of our actionable solutions begins with analyzing the current NSHE funding formula. Because it is only a distribution formula an institution can meet all of its performance goals and still experience a budget decrease because other institutions had larger enrollment growth. Any new formula that merely redistributes existing funds will produce winners and losers and fail for Nevada’s students. 

    Chair Hardesty and Vice Chair Charleton have emphasized the Committee’s charge is to develop a new formula without new funding. Committee members have advocated for additional funds to fairly implement formula changes. As shown in Part 3, including summer course credits in the Weighted Student Credit Hour (WSCH) formula without additional funds would result in significant budget cuts for five of the seven institutions. 

    Reimagining the Formula as a Funding Formula

    Budgets for the seven NSHE colleges and universities are currently developed through the state budget process, starting with the base-year budget and making various maintenance adjustments including caseload. At the end of the process, the total appropriation for the seven institutions is redistributed according to their WSCHs. That is backward and it leads to constant competition among the colleges and universities.

    A true funding formula would determine the cost of providing higher education per WSCH (or other chosen metrics), then budget that amount multiplied by the WSCHs. The existing dollar value per WSCH should be adjusted for inflation according to the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI). Then that value multiplied by each institution’s WSCHs would be the institution's new base budget. The detailed budget (including cost-of-living adjustments) for each institution would be developed with the formula funding totals. Using WSCHs as the starting point for budgeting would prevent a redistribution or competition between institutions.

    If the state provides insufficient funds to fully fund the formula, the only alternative is to reduce the appropriation per WSCH across the board by the same percentage and then raise student fees or cut services to compensate. That’s the reality regardless of which formula is established.

    In case another sudden drop in enrollment were to occur, as happened during the pandemic, the best of the past two years of the WSCHs should be used to provide time for recovery or adjustment. (A three-year average has been proposed, but that still counts even and odd years differently with a biennial budget and increases the lag between count and budget years.) Ideally, projected enrollments would be used, but further study would be needed to find a feasible and accurate projection method.

    Funding Student Services

    In Part 4, we recommended shifting funding for existing student services expenditures from the WSCH to a headcount to reflect the costs of providing student services beyond the classroom. To implement that in a revenue-neutral way, each institution’s current student services expenditures would be carved out of their WSCH allocation (8% overall but varying from 5% to 14%). The total amount would then be redistributed according to the average of fall and spring student headcounts, resulting in an initial minor funding shift. For future budgets, the total student service funding would be divided by the total headcounts to obtain the dollar value per headcount. That value would be increased by HEPI inflation to set the budget based on each institution’s new headcount.

    Funding Enhancements

    The Committee cannot appropriate funds, but it can recommend additional changes in the formula be contingent upon full funding. These should include:

    • Adding all summer course credits to the WSCH formula, with an appropriation to cover the full cost. Unintended consequences of including summer credits without additional funding are discussed in Part 3. If all summer school courses convert to regular WSCH funding in the state-supported operating budget, then UNR’s and UNLV’s academic departments must receive equivalent funding levels to support their research missions.

    • Enhancing the headcount formula to fund additional wrap-around services for at-risk and underserved students, counting them at 1.25 to 1.30, with an appropriation to cover the full cost. The categories of at-risk students should include Pell-grant recipients, underrepresented and first-generation students, English-language learners, and students needing disability accommodations. Details can be found in Part 4.

    • An adjustment to the weighting in the WSCH formula for Nursing and possibly other critical needs. Again, weight enhancements must be fully funded to avoid robbing one institution to pay another. The Committee should also recommend a regular procedure to update the level and discipline weights in the WSCHs. They should be revised every four to six years to keep up with changes in the cost of instruction and the state’s critical economic areas.

    Without full funding for these enhancements, smaller institutions would face severe budget cuts because existing funds would be redistributed to larger institutions. Recommending formula enhancements contingent upon funding would provide a path to future budget requests.

    Inflation Adjustments

    NSHE already has a policy to raise student registration fees according to HEPI, and state funding should keep up. A funding formula that is not adjusted for inflation results in cuts that prevent our ability to serve students and compensate faculty and staff fairly and competitively. The HEPI by Commonfund is a reasonable national measure of inflation in the higher education sector. For each biennial budget, the WSCHs or headcounts should be adjusted for the most recent two years of HEPI inflation.

    Indexing the WSCH dollar value for inflation is not a major change from actual practice. For all the biennial budget requests and supposed enhancements since the current formula was established, the following figure shows that the appropriation per WSCH adjusted for inflation has been mostly flat since 2014, except for the decline after the pandemic from which we haven't not fully recovered.

    If (and only if) the formula funding for NSHE is indexed for inflation, then the mechanism for funding COLAs for NSHE employees could be reconsidered for the formula-funded NSHE budgets. COLAs in line with the HEPI could be accommodated within the formula. Catch-up increases for competitive compensation require additional state funding, however.

    Outcomes-Based Funding

    We recommend eliminating the current performance pool as a carve-out from base funding. Any outcomes-based funding should be additions to the base budgets. Our recommended enhancement to the headcount formula for at-risk and underserved students provides outcomes-based funding, applied to about 8% of the budget (versus the 20% carve-out in the current performance pool). Institutions that recruit and retain those students would receive a funding boost based on their headcounts but without competing against other institutions for a fixed allocation or being threatened with a reduced budget for not meeting targets, as with the current performance pool. Headcount values could also include student-centric performance metrics for retention, progression, and completion. If a larger percentage of the formula is allocated to headcounts to enhance student support services (such as disability resources or mental health), it should be phased in with hold-harmless funding.

    Other performance could be rewarded in a similar manner. For example, WSCH values could receive a bonus for efficiency measured by the number of degrees and certificates awarded per credit hour; that would prevent a reduction in funding if an institution graduates its students more quickly. All outcomes incentives must be additional funds that do not make institutions compete or put base funding at risk. No performance funding should risk base funding using metrics that track the total number of students, directly or indirectly. The WSCHs and headcounts already account for enrollment. Instead, institutions should be rewarded for increasing efficiency or reaching a higher proportion of a target population.

    Audits

    For full transparency and to promote trust between NSHE and the Legislature, all institutional reporting of formula factors (e.g., WSCHs and headcounts) should be audited regularly.  The formula should incentivize services to students, not creative accounting.

    ###

    Data are sourced from public records and reports. We welcome questions and welcome corrections from authoritative sources.  Contact:kent.ervin@nevadafacultyalliance.org.

    NFA Series on NSHE Funding Formula

    Updated 5/20/2024 11:30 a.m. Edited for clarity.

  • 19 May 2024 4:21 PM | Kent Ervin (Administrator)

    A Separate Formula for the Community Colleges using Headcounts Could Decimate the Rural Colleges

    Part 5 in a series analyzing proposals being considered by the NSHECommittee on Higher Education Funding. These articles delve into various proposals the Committee will consider on May 30 and finalize on July 25. The NFA has issued a set of fundamentalPrinciples for Funding Higher Education

    Several presidents and members of the Committee have recommended establishing separate formulas for different institution types to account for their different missions and student demographics. HCM Strategists, the Committee’s consultant, has advised against that, stating that there are too few institutions for multiple formulas to be practical and that the Weighted Student Credit Hours (WSCHs) formula can provide sufficient differentiation by mission.

    A simple two-formula system has been suggested to maintain the WSCH formula funding for the three universities but switch the four community colleges to a headcount formula. Table 1 shows how that system would affect the community colleges. With no additional funding or hold-harmless provisions, CSN’s budget would increase by 8%, but the other three colleges would have their funding reduced by 4% for TMCC, 9% for GBC, and 33% for WNC. The smaller and rural community colleges would be significantly harmed. Such a change should not be contemplated, at least not without long-term hold-harmless funding for the smaller institutions. 

    As recommended in part 4, a less radical and more practical solution would be to shift funding for Student Services expenses, about 8% of the budget overall, to a headcount formula but keep the student credit hour formula to fund instruction and related academic support.  A credit-hour formula, weighted or not, more accurately represents the costs of instruction than do headcounts, but student support costs are better correlated with headcounts.

    Table 1. Comparison of WSCH and headcount formulas for CSN, GBC, TMCC, & WNC 

    College

    WSCH

    Share of WSCH

    Formula Appropriation (millions)

    Funding Per WSCH

    Headcount

    Share of Headcount

    Headcount Formula Funding (millions)

    Funding Per Head

    Change (millions)

    Change (%)

    CSN

    564061

    60.1%

    $97.0

    $172.01

    33546

    64.6%

    $104

    $3,127

    $$7.9

    8.1%

    GBC

    81614

    8.7%

    $14.6

    $179.50

    4279

    8.2%

    $13.4

    $3,127

    ($1.3)

    -8.7%

    TMCC

    204001

    21.7%

    $35.0

    $171.76

    10754

    20.7%

    $33.6

    $3,127

    ($1.4)

    -4.0%

    WNC

    89534

    9.5%

    $15.6

    $174.65

    3333

    6.4%

    $10.4

    $3,127

    ($5.2)

    -33.3%

    Totals

    939210

    100%

    $162.3

     

    51912

    100%

    $162.3

    $3,127

    $0

    0%

    Sources: NSHE and LCB public reports. WSCH and Unduplicated Resident Headcount for the 2021-2022 count year. Formula appropriation is from the General Fund for FY2024 before COLAs and enrollment recovery funding.

    ###

    Data are sourced from NSHE public records and reports. We welcome questions and welcome corrections from authoritative sources.  Contact:kent.ervin@nevadafacultyalliance.org.

    NFA Series on NSHE Funding Formula


  • 19 May 2024 3:02 PM | Kent Ervin (Administrator)

    Funding Student Support Services Based on Headcounts

    Part 4 in a series analyzing proposals being considered by the NSHE Committee on Higher Education Funding. These articles delve into various proposals the Committee will consider on May 30 and finalize on July 25. The NFA has issued a set of fundamental Principles for Funding Higher Education

    A valid criticism of the current funding-distribution formula, which allocates state appropriations using resident Weighted Student Credit Hours (WSCHs), is that it does not account for students from diverse backgrounds and part-time students needing wrap-around services. Several of the presidents have proposed using headcounts instead of WSCHs to distribute funding. HCM Strategists, the committee’s consultant, recommend using headcounts for only a portion of the formula.

    In part 2, we showed that a complete switch from WSCHs to a headcount distribution formula would have disastrous consequences for multiple institutions. In this article, we analyze cost estimates for student services based on advisor-to-student ratios and recommend that funding for student service expenditures be tied to a student headcount measure.

    Achieving a 350-to-1 Advisor-to-Student Ratio

    NSHE's service standard for student services is one academic advisor or counselor per 350 students. Table 1 provides a cost estimate for funding that many advisors system-wide. 

    Table 1. Estimated cost of academic advisors and counselors

    Total Student Headcount (Fall 2023)

     107,000

    Advisors at 350-to-1 students-to-advisor 

     305

    Compensation per advisor ($56K average salary + 35% fringe + 11% FY2025 COLA)

     $84,400

    Total Cost

     $25,700,000

    The total cost of about $25.7 million represents 2.7% of the total budgets of the seven NSHE colleges and universities.

    Enhancement for At-Risk and Students: Closing the Achievement Gap

    Another goal is to enhance funding for services to at-risk students, including underrepresented minorities (URM), Pell Grant recipients, first-generation students, English-language learners, and students needing disability accommodations. NSHE data indicate 63% of students or 67,000 are historically minoritized and 32000 are Pell-grant recipients (data for the other categories are not readily available). The calculations in Table 2 show a cost of about $18.5 million overall to provide additional advisors or other program staff to support these students at the same 350-to-1 ratio as regular academic advisors.

    Table 2. Estimated cost for additional support personnel for at-risk and underrepresented students (at a 350-to-1 student-to-staff ratio)


    Student Services Expenditures

    Funding advisors and support personnel is only a portion of student services. We can examine current expenditures attributed to Student Services for the colleges and universities. The NSHE Operating Budgets classify expenditures using standardized functional categories. Table 3 shows percentage expenditures for the NSHE colleges and universities for 2021-2022. The overall expenditure for Student Services is 8.0% of the budget, varying from 5% for UNR to 14% for NSU. Student Services include not only academic advising, but a wide range of services and programs beyond classroom instruction including information technology.

    Table 3. 2021-2022 Expenditures by Functional Categories


    A correlation analysis (Table 4 in footnote) shows that institutional expenditures for Instruction, Academic Support, and Operations & Maintenance are most highly correlated with Weighted Student Credit Hours. In contrast, expenditures for Student Services are most highly correlated with Total Fall Headcounts. Thus, the institutions are already allocating resources to serve students outside of the classroom in proportion to headcounts. The left side of Figure 1 shows that institutions are spending similar amounts on Student Services per student ($644 overall).  The right side shows, in contrast, that the two comprehensive universities spend a much smaller portion of their budgets (5 to 6%) on Student Services than do NSU and the community colleges (11 to 14%).  

    Figure 1. Student Services Expenditures by Institution 


    As discussed in Part 2 of this series, a complete switch for the distribution formula from Weighted Student Credit Hours to headcounts would result in huge disruptions of funding. However, distribution by headcounts for up to the current 8% of expenditures for Student Services would be reasonable and would account for a variety of support services and technology infrastructure.  

    Recommendations

    NFA recommends that Student Services expenditures (approximately 8% of the formula-funded budgets overall) be carved out from the resident WSCH distribution formula individually for each institution and that those amounts be distributed using an average of Fall and Spring resident headcounts. In future budgets, these headcount allocations should be updated through caseload maintenance items in the state budget process, plus an adjustment inflation. Because current Student Services expenditures are highly correlated with headcounts, this change would not cause a major disruption in funding, but it would allow for growth in services to students based on headcounts rather than student credit hours, accounting for part-time students who predominate at the community colleges.

    Additionally, the headcounts should be enhanced for underrepresented minority, Pell recipients, and other identifiable at-risk or underserved students (without double counting individual students) by a factor sufficient to fund an additional counselor or other program officer per 350 of those students (roughly 0.25 to 0.30).  Because the current formula does not account for these students in any way, this funding should be implemented as a enhancement.  Once funded and implemented, the enhancement of headcounts for at-risk students acts as a performance factor–recruiting and retaining those students would boost future funding. 

    NFA also recommends that all reporting by the institutions of student credit hours, headcounts, and other factors that go into the funding formula should be audited regularly. The formula should provide incentives to serve students, not incentives for creative accounting.

    ###

    Data are sourced from NSHE public records and reports. We welcome questions and welcome corrections from authoritative sources.  Contact:kent.ervin@nevadafacultyalliance.org.

    _______________

    Table 4. Correlation Analysis of 2021-2022 Institutional Expenditures in Major Functional Categories

    NFA Series on NSHE Funding Formula



  • 16 May 2024 2:16 PM | Kent Ervin (Administrator)

    Unintended Consequences of Including Summer Courses in the WSCH Formula

    Part 3 in a series analyzing proposals being considered by the NSHE Committee on Higher Education Funding. These articles delve into various proposals the Committee will consider on May 30 and finalize on July 25. The NFA has issued a set of fundamental Principles for Funding Higher Education

    Summer Course Credits

    Summer school courses have traditionally been funded by student fees, not the state. But over the years certain summer courses have been brought into the current funding-distribution formula based on resident Weighted Student Credit Hours (WSCHs). Nursing courses, science prerequisites for nursing, and teacher preparation courses were introduced as enhancements with appropriations for state-supported summer courses.

    The CSN, GBC, NSU, and WNC presidents have proposed that summer courses be funded through the WSCH formula (Item #21 in Institutional Formula Recommendations). Their reasons include reducing the time to graduation by expanding summer course offerings and funding student support during the summer. 

    HCM Strategists, the consultants NSHE retained for the Committee, recommend adding summer courses to the WSCH formula with or without new funding. Although we support the general policy that the state fund all courses helping students earn their degree or certificate, bringing summer credits into the WSCH formula without additional funding would have dire consequences.

    Budget Cuts for Rural Community Colleges 

    Non-state-funded summer credits range from 1% of WSCHs for GBC to 14% for NSU. As seen in Figure 1, HCM estimates that, with full funding, including all summer courses in the WSCH funding-distribution formula would cost an estimated $48 million. HCM describes “minor shifts” in current funding if summer credit hours are counted in the WSCH formula without additional funding.

    Figure 1. Summary of including summer WSCH in the formula (HCM, p. 23).HCM table and commentary from https://nshe.nevada.edu/html/wp-content/uploads/file/HEF/2024-04/HEF-4a.pdf#page=23

    However, HCM’s characterization of the budget effects as minor does not survive scrutiny. Table 1 examines the consequences for each institution’s funding.[1]  A 5% to 6% decrease in funding at GBC and WNC is hardly a “minor shift.” Neither are funding cuts of 2% to 3% for NSU, UNR, and TMCC. NFA believes that any change must be fully funded.

    Table 1. Summer WSCH without additional funding.

    Institution

    Percentage Change in Share of Total WSCH (Systemwide)

    Change in Total   WSCH Funding 

    Percentage Change in Total WSCH Funding

    UNLV

    0.77%

    $3,873,296  

    2.0%

    UNR

    -0.69%

    ($3,504,870)  

    -2.7%

    NSU

    -0.11%

    ($557,363)  

    -1.9%

    CSN

    0.49%

    $2,499,682  

    2.7%

    GBC

    -0.13%

    ($681,850)  

    -5.0%

    TMCC

    -0.15%

    ($768,229)  

    -2.3%

    WNC

    -0.17%

    ($860,667)  

    -5.8%

    Totals 

    0.00%

    $0  

    0.0%

    Other Consequences

    The discussion of summer course funding has not addressed how various institutions use summer school revenue. Although community colleges appear to collect the revenue centrally, UNLV and UNR rebate a portion to academic departments as an incentive to offer courses. Units and departments use this revenue for faculty development, conference travel for faculty and graduate students, research support, and emergencies. If summer courses are brought into state-supported operating budgets without funding, many of UNR’s and UNLV’s academic departments will face yet another budget crisis. Also, each university will risk support for research that contributes to R1 status. 

    In addition, faculty workloads will be required to support expanded summer course offerings. Given the difficulty of recruiting and retaining instructors, adding summer loads will be a big lift for some institutions and programs. Departments and units may have to compensate by proportionally reducing course loads for B-contract faculty during fall and spring semesters, which could lead to students finding reduced course offerings. 

    Conclusion

    As previously stated by NFA, a new formula that merely redistributes available funding will be a failure. If summer WSCHs are added to the distribution formula, they must be fully funded as an added appropriation at HCM’s estimated cost of $48 million per year.

    __________

    [1] We cannot reproduce HCM’s percentages in Figure 1 using available public records, but the consequences using their percentages would be similar to those in Table 1. Our full calculations are available for review; corrections from authoritative sources are welcome.

    ***

    We welcome feedback from faculty, especially department chairs, administrative faculty, and classified staff who manage state-supported budgets. Contacts: Kent Ervin (kent.ervin@nevadafacultyalliance.org), Doug Unger (doug.unger@nevadafacultyalliance.org), Jim New (jim.new@nevadafacultyalliance.org), and Staci Walters (staci.walters@nevadafacultyalliance.org.

    Data are sourced from NSHE public records and reports. We welcome questions and corrections. Contact:kent.ervin@nevadafacultyalliance.org.

    NFA Series on NSHE Funding Formula




  • 14 May 2024 9:46 PM | Kent Ervin (Administrator)

    Nevada Faculty Alliance Announces Endorsements for the Board of Regents

    The NFA Political Action Committee has vetted candidates for the Board of Regents office in the 2024 Primary Election through questionnaires, interviews, and other research. The NFA-PAC endorses candidates who share our values and who support higher education as a common good, college and university affordability, academic freedom, and faculty rights including collective bargaining.

    The NFA-PAC is pleased to announce endorsements for Carlos David Fernandez (Regent Distrist 1), Carol Del Carlo (Regent District 9), and Amy Carvalho (Regent District 12). Additional candidate information is linked in the table below.

    Regent District NFA Endorsed Candidate Candidate Information
    District 1 - northern Clark County

    Carlos David Fernandez


    Candidate Questionnaire

    Candidate Forum

    Candidate Website

    District 4 – northeastern Clark County No endorsement for the primary election.  Candidate questionnaires and forum
    District 9 – Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Storey and southern Washoe Counties

    Carol Del Carlo (incumbent)


    Candidate Questionnaire

    Candidate Forum

    Candidate Website

    District 12 – southeastern Clark County  Amy Carvalho (incumbent)

    Candidate Questionnaire

    Candidate Forum

    Candidate Website

    ***

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance (www.nevadafacultyalliance.org) is an affiliate of the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers/AFl-CIO. Our mission is to advance academic freedom, enhance shared governance, and promote the economic security of professional employees at the colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The NFA works to empower our members to be fully engaged in our mission to help students succeed.

    The NFA Political Action Committee, which is comprised of NFA members in northern and southern Nevada, is proud to make these political endorsements. We will be encouraging the winning candidates to fight with us to improve higher education in Nevada. 




  • 14 May 2024 5:56 PM | Kent Ervin (Administrator)

    Reslicing the Higher Education Funding Pie: Winners and Losers

    Part 2 in a series analyzing proposals being considered by the NSHE Committee on Higher Education Funding. These articles delve into various proposals the Committee will consider on May 30 and finalize on July 25. The NFA has issued a set of fundamental Principles for the Funding of Higher Education. 

    The ad hoc NSHE Committee on Higher Education Funding has been tasked with evaluating other states’ higher education funding models to support their NSHE-similar institutions. These models are to be compared to Nevada’s current model, including allocation and institutional costs to deliver instruction. The committee will then determine whether other funding-allocation methods would be appropriate for NSHE. The Nevada Faculty Alliance has stated to the committee that a new formula will be a failure if it merely redistributes the existing funding without new resources. 

    Impact of Formula Changes

    The total funding per student at Nevada’s public colleges and universities is third-from-bottom among all states. It can be simultaneously true that certain institutions–for example, Nevada community colleges–are disadvantaged by the current formula and that all institutions are underfunded. Presidents will naturally recommend formulas that favor their own institutions, but the Committee must balance students’ different needs and resources and recommend an equitable funding formula.

    The current formula distributes funding to the seven NSHE colleges and universities in proportion to resident Weighted Student Credit Hours (WSCH). A change from the resident WSCH to a different formula could result in a major disruption to funding. For example, as the following data will show, changing from WSCH to “unduplicated resident headcounts” in 2021–2022 would have decreased UNLV’s state appropriation by $55 million (−29%) and increased CSN’s by $69 million (+74%), out of a total $500 million appropriated to all seven institutions. 

    NFA maintains that any additions to the formula (e.g., including summer school courses in the WSCHs) must be fully funded. Any changes to the distribution formula must be implemented only with hold-harmless provisions for at least two biennia to allow institutions to adjust. Furthermore, different measures may be appropriate for a portion of the budget—for example, headcounts for non-instructional student support services—but not for the entire budget.

    Comparison of Different Formula-Distribution Metrics

    The following tables and charts show how different distribution formulas would affect the seven NSHE colleges and universities, using 2021–2022 data. Tables 1A and 1B show the state appropriations in percentages of the total and estimated percentage change after a shift from resident WSCHs. Tables 2A and 2B show the appropriations and changes in millions of dollars.

    Switching completely from WSCHs to other enrollment metrics for the funding distribution formula would benefit the community colleges and NSU, but without additional funding would require drastic budget cuts at UNLV and UNR, comparable to recent pandemic budget cuts.  Alternatively, different funding distribution formulas could be implemented for different institution types. Without additional funding, however, that could bake in disparities in the current formula.

    The first data column in Table 1A shows resident WSCH percentages, which is how the current formula distributes funding. That is compared to unweighted student-credit hours (same as average annual full-time-equivalent enrollment) in the second column. The weightings of courses by levels and discipline are intended to account for the different costs of instruction.

    The tables and Chart 1 compare three different headcount measures. Headcounts generally peak in the Fall semester. Total headcounts include out-of-state students; resident headcounts do not and are therefore lower. The “unduplicated resident headcount”, however, counts any individual student who has taken a state-supported course during the year. These can exceed the peak total headcounts because some students take courses sporadically. Because most of those students do not need year-round support, the unduplicated resident headcounts are a poor measure for the resources needed for student support services. We recommend the Fall headcounts, or an average of Fall and Spring, as more accurate for distributing funding for student services.

    Finally, maintained square footage is included in the tables and Chart 2 because a bill in the 2023 legislature would have shifted the formula to consider only building square footage on each campus.  Square footage has been mentioned in the funding committee discussions mainly in the context of fixed facility operations and utility costs.

    Conclusion and Future Analysis

    The current Weighted Student Credit Hour formula attempts to recognize the costs of offering courses to students at various levels in various disciplines. That’s appropriate for funding instructional staff and operations.  Student support services geared to individual students are better correlated with student headcounts, including part-time students. There are also fixed facility and administrative costs that depend weakly on student numbers. In later posts, we will analyze these various cost drivers and how they might equitably be incorporated into a new formula for appropriate portions of the budgets.

    Table 1A. NSHE Institutional Appropriation Percentages using Various Distribution Metrics

    Institution Resident Weighted Student Credit Hours Unweighted Resident Student Credit Hours Total Fall Headcount Resident Fall Headcount Unduplicated Resident Headcount Maintained Square Footage
    UNLV 37.9% 33.7% 28.8% 28.2% 27.0% 34.2%
    UNR 25.2% 20.6% 18.9% 16.7% 15.3% 37.7%
    NSU 5.8% 6.8% 6.8% 7.6% 7.6% 2.0%
    CSN 18.6% 24.7% 29.3% 30.8% 32.4% 14.7%
    GBC 2.7% 2.9% 3.3% 3.9% 3.2% 2.7%
    TMCC 6.7% 7.8% 9.3% 9.7% 10.4% 5.5%
    WNC 3.0% 3.4% 3.5% 3.1% 4.1% 3.1%

    Sources: NSHE public reports and records. Maintained square footage includes non-instructional space.

    Table 1B. Estimated Percentage Change in State Appropriation using Various Distribution Metrics

    Institution Resident Weighted Student Credit Hours Unweighted Resident Student Credit Hours Total Fall Headcount Resident Fall Headcount Unduplicated Resident Headcount Maintained Square Footage
    UNLV 0.0%

    -11.1

    -24.0% -25.7% -28.8% -9.8%
    UNR 0.0% -18.3% -25.0% -33.6% -39.3% +49.6%
    NSU 0.0% +17.2% 17.2% +31.3% 31.0% -65.5%
    CSN 0.0% +32.8% 57.5% 65.4% 74.2% -21.0%
    GBC 0.0% 7.4% 22.2% 43.7% 18.5% 0.0%
    TMCC 0.0% 16.4% 38.8% 45.5% 55.2% -17.9%
    WNC 0.0% 13.3% 16.7% 3.4% 36.7% 3.3%

    Table 2A. NSHE Institutional Appropriations using Various Distribution Metrics (Million $)

    Institution Resident Weighted Student Credit Hours Unweighted Resident Student Credit Hours Total Fall Headcount Resident Fall Headcount Unduplicated Resident Headcount Maintained Square Footage
    UNLV $189.5 $168.5 $144.0 $140.8 $135.0 $171.0
    UNR $126.0 $103.0 $94.5 $83.6 $76.5 $188.5
    NSU $29.0 $34.0 $34.0 $38.1 $38.0 $10.0
    CSN $93.0 $123.5 $146.5 $153.8 $162.0 $73.5
    GBC $13.5 $14.5 $16.5 $19.4 $16.0 $13.5
    TMCC $33.5 $39.0 $46.5 $48.7 $52.0 $27.5
    WNC $15.0 $17.0 $17.5 $15.5 $20.5 $15.5
    Sources: NSHE public reports and records. Assumes $500 million total appropriation.

    Table 2B. Estimated Changes in State Appropriation using Various Distribution Metrics (Million $)

    Institution Resident Weighted Student Credit Hours Unweighted Resident Student Credit Hours Total Fall Headcount Resident Fall Headcount Unduplicated Resident Headcount Maintained Square Footage
    UNLV $0.0 -$21.0 -$45.5 -$48.7 -$54.5 -$18.5
    UNR $0.0 -$23.0 -$31.5 -$42.4 -$49.5 $62.5
    NSU $0.0 $5.0 $5.0 $9.1 $9.0 -$19.0
    CSN $0.0 $30.5 $53.5 $60.8 $69.0 -$19.5
    GBC $0.0 $1.0 $3.0 $5.9 $2.5 $0.0
    TMCC $0.0 $5.5 $13.0 $15.2 $18.5 -$6.0
    WNC $0.0 $2.0 $2.5 $0.5 $5.5 $0.5

    Chart 1. Headcount numbers by institution and type


    Chart 2. Distribution Formulas by Institution for Various Measures


    ###

    Data are sourced from NSHE public records and reports. We welcome questions and welcome corrections from authoritative sources.  Contact: kent.ervin@nevadafacultyalliance.org.

    Update 5/17/2024:  Corrected values in Table 1B to be percentage change in institutional appropriation (rather than the difference in the percentage share of the total budget).

    NFA Series on NSHE Funding Formula


  • 14 May 2024 10:08 AM | Jim New (Administrator)

    There are four seats on the Board of Regents up for election in 2024. The primary election is on June 11 with early voting starting May 25. The primary will narrow the field to two candidates for each race going forward to the general election in November--unless one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in primary in which case that candidate is declared elected and there is no general election.

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance Political Action Committee (NFA-PAC) sent a questionnaire exploring NSHE and faculty issues to each candidate's email address. Seven of the 13 candidates have responded. 

    The NFA-PAC is also conducting candidate forums that are open to all NFA members. Video recordings of the forums will be available for review once all candidates have responded to our request to participate. Candidate endorsements may be made by the NFA-PAC at the conclusion of the process. Only candidates who offer unqualified support for the principles of shared governance and collective bargaining rights will be considered for endorsement.

    District Questionnaire Responses Forum Video
    District 1 - northern Clark County Matthew Bowen
    Carlos David Fernandez
    Ida Zeiler
    April 30, 2024
    Matthew Bowen
    Carlos David Fernandez
    Ida Zeiler
    District 4 – northeastern Clark County Aaron Bautista
    Richard Andrew Carrillo
    Donald Sylvantee McMichael (incumbent)
    Shawn Stamper
    Tonia Holmes Sutton
    April 24, 2024
    Aaron Bautista
    Tonia Holmes Sutton
    District 9 – Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Storey and southern Washoe Counties Carol Del Carlo (incumbent)
    Bret Delaire
    Gary T Johnson
    May 13, 2024
    Carol Del Carlo
    District 12 – southeastern Clark County Amy Carvalho (incumbent)
    Jonathan Maxham
    April 29, 2024
    Amy Carvalho
    Jonathan Maxham
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