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  • 20 Jan 2012 12:17 AM | Deleted user
    The Nevada Faculty Alliance is pleased and honored to announce that our integrated print and electronic communications program has been recognized by the AAUP Assembly of State Conferences.

    The ASC granted the NFA its "Print and Electronic Communications Award" for 2011, in recognition of our "outstanding tabloid-style newsletter" and our "highly professional" electronic update and website.

    During 2011, not only did the NFA create a new website with a new news blog as well as a Twitter feed and active Facebook page, and introduce a weekly electronic newsletter, but it also streamlined the editorial and production process of The Alliance print newspaper and integrated its editorial content onto the website and newsletter while also updating the design and layout of the print version. In 2012, the NFA is working to further enhance the value of these important assets for members.

    We are gratified by this national recognition of our hard work.
  • 13 Jan 2012 2:21 PM | Anonymous
    Members of the Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education, got a last-minute surprise at their Jan. 11 meeting, held at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas. Nevada Senator Steven Horsford, chair of the committee, added Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich to the agenda so that Klaich could present NSHE’s proposal for a new way to fund public higher education in the state.

    Nevertheless, everyone present and attending via videoconference from Carson City and Elko came prepared, and they seemed to agree on one thing: Equity must be part of whatever new formula is adopted.

    Senator John Lee, whose bill established the committee, opened the meeting with a lengthy statement expressing concerns that the current formula redistributes student fee dollars in a way that “turns students into taxpayers,” as he said. Lee also drew on the last committee’s 2005 findings as a way of underlining concerns of historic inequities of more than $20 million each for the College of Southern Nevada and UNLV.

    Following Lee’s statement, Horsford said he believed the intent of the legislation and the committee was, “to evaluate the best formulas that ensure equitable allocation and distribution of those sources, based on the mission of each of our institutions throughout the system.”

    As Klaich walked the committee through NSHE’s proposal, he said: “I want to be very clear that I want to be mindful that this is not a taxation committee. It’s not my point here today to talk about the adequacy or inadequacy of funding for higher education. That’s a discussion for another day, and certainly I have strong opinions on that. But after we price our product, it’s up to us to fairly and adequately allocate those funds amongst the institutions based on the work that they do.”

    Klaich touched on the shortcomings of the current model, which has been in use since the 1980s, saying it is difficult to understand (undermining its credibility) and discourages differentiation and entrepreneurial behavior. He added, “This issue of geo-politics is inextricably wound in, and you (Senator Horsford) stated it correctly – whether ‘real or perceived.’ It doesn’t matter whether it’s real or perceived; it’s there.”

    Klaich proposed that the committee set aside Nevada’s current formula and start over, rather than tinkering with a broken model. The NSHE plan he presented was meant to provide a conceptual framework for a new model. Klaich explained that it would need to be developed through further study of the cost factors in Nevada (likely to be studied by an independent consultant) and of funding formulas used in other states, such as Texas, which also have multi-tiered systems of higher education.
     
    The proposed framework has three main elements: 1. base funding, calculated using a weighted student credit hour matrix, in which each student credit hour completed would be weighted according to the cost of the discipline (with disciplines sorted into clusters of roughly common cost) and on academic level; 2. add-ons, or enhancements, for research missions (at universities) and for economies of scale at other institutions; and 3. a performance pool of funds available to each institution that achieves certain performance benchmarks, particularly the number of graduates or certificates awarded.

    Members of the committee spent considerable time asking Klaich questions about the new approach, which was summarized in just over three pages. Assemblywoman Debbie Smith expressed concern about the many technical components of the proposal that would need to be fleshed out, pointing as an example to vagueness about distribution of performance pool funds. No questions were posed on the financial impact of shifting from the allocation of state funds based on enrollment to allocation based on completion of credits, and there was no discussion of a timeframe for transitioning from the current formula to the new one.
     
    Klaich said following the meeting that he was pleased with the reaction of the committee, which agreed to integrate NSHE’s new model into the request for proposals from independent consultants that will go out in the coming weeks.

    “As I tried to emphasize to the committee, this was a proposal that needed a lot of detail work and independent vetting,” Klaich said. “I think the questions from the committee highlighted many of the areas that we will have to study. I thought for such short notice, the committee was extremely well-prepared.”

    As the formula is being hammered out, Klaich stressed, he wants teaching faculty to know that it will be based on what he considers their primary mission, teaching. “We will value it fairly across the system, and we will be highly supportive of the model that funds performance, excellence, assessment and rigor,” he said.

    His next step will be to begin executing the committee’s request that NSHE fill in some detail in the model and provide examples of implementation. Klaich said he welcomes the NFA’s input as the process unfolds.

    This next step will undoubtedly be the subject of discussion at the special meeting of the NSHE Board of Regents scheduled for Friday Jan. 20 at DRI in Las Vegas.

  • 12 Jan 2012 9:30 AM | Deleted user
    On behalf of the NFA state board, this statement is to clarify some of the confusion created by AAUP president Cary Nelson's email sent Tuesday.

    As of last Wednesday morning (January 11), the state board confirmed, unequivocally, that the NFA remains the Nevada affiliate of the AAUP and its members remain AAUP members.

    The NFA is indeed engaged, as you know, in discussions about restructuring our affiliation with the AAUP to ensure NFA members get the services they need and deserve -- rather than having more than half our dues used to subsidize AAUP activities in other states.  This negotiation was begun with the national officers and staff in the fall of 2010 and is currently being pursued with the AAUP's governing board, its National Council. NFA has indeed, as we have reported to members repeated, withheld dues to AAUP until the situation is resolved, primarily because the invoices received from AAUP placed all our members in the highest income band and assessed dues on all our members at collective bargaining rates. But there has been no action by either party taken to end the NFA affiliation with the AAUP or to expel NFA members from the AAUP, and there has been no diminution in services from the AAUP to our members.

    Let us offer a few additional points of clarification :

    1. Nelson's letter is inaccurate in that the NFA's affiliation agreement with the AAUP remains in place until one side or the other withdraws. NFA certainly has not done that and taken no steps towards that, nor have we even discussed that formally on the board. AAUP is governed by its elected National Council, not by one individual. Nevada's representative on the National Council, Candace Kant of CSN, has confirmed that there has been no discussion of ending the affiliation there either. Both legally and morally, NFA members remain AAUP members, and it is incorrect and even irresponsible to suggest otherwise. Our dues backlog is not either out of the ordinary for the AAUP in dealing with its state affiliates nor is it in any way a secret.

    2. We have discussed the situation openly with our members repeatedly, including on the front page of the September Alliance and in a letter last month to the statewide membership, also posted on the NFA blog. It was also covered in the UNLV Rebel Yell.

    3.  The letter from Cary Nelson is mistaken in several other ways, most notably in the discussion of what services the AAUP have offered to NFA and when. We have received only the vaguest suggestion of grants or subsidies, and our request for Nevada-based staff support was explicitly rejected. Moreover, the AAUP proved unable to provide any significant assistance for public education in Nevada, despite repeated requests, throughout 2010 and 2011. Professor Nelson presents the situation as if it were a matter primarily of the much-publicized announcement by UNLV in March 2011 of the prospect of a declaration of financial exigency, but the program terminations and faculty layoffs had begun in Nevada over a year earlier. He makes no mention at all of the proposed layoffs of tenured faculty at Western Nevada (which have been successfully rebuffed by their faculty with support from the NFA) and of the actual layoffs of tenured faculty at UNR (which are being challenged currently by lawsuits in federal court against UNR and the System, supported by the NFA).

    4. Most especially, his claim that there is no increase in dues for NFA members is belied by the invoices we have received from AAUP, which place all our members in their highest income band and assess all members the collective bargaining dues rate. This only makes sense if one presumes that NFA would absorb the increase in AAUP dues out of its own operating budget or that, as the AAUP office has suggested, the NFA raise dues on its members. (NFA leaders made this point at the June 2010 national meeting when the dues increase was approved and Nelson himself agreed at that time that Nevada constituted a "special case" which should be resolved by a special agreement.)

    5. Perhaps most importantly, NFA has set aside and is all holding our back dues in hope of an agreement with AAUP, although no serious offer of additional services or restructured affiliation has been forthcoming for more than a year.

    6. The problems in the AAUP are by no means limited to Nevada.  For the past several years, academic publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education have reported on areas in which the organization has become less effective than it once was.  The AAUP has worked hard to address some of these issues, but the issue of excessive focus on the national office at the expense of state and campus chapters was brought to light recently by Gary Rhoades, former AAUP general-secretary, who just this week published an op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education denouncing the AAUP's "inward-looking perspective that detracts from the mission of serving members" and calling for more focus on cultivating chapters and state- and local-level leadership.  The AAUP has announced that it is working to resolve this problematic issue, with state organizations believing that they could work harder.  We support any progress that they make in this area.

    Any comments, concerns or questions may be addressed to the NFA state board directly at info@nevadafacultyalliance.org. Additional updates will be emailed to members directly and posted on http://nevadafacultyalliance.org/News.
  • 16 Dec 2011 4:24 PM | Deleted user
    UNLV HR Benefits manager attended the Dec 15 PEBP Board meeting on behalf of the NSHE Task Force on health coverage and filed this report:

    The Public Employees Benefits Program (PEBP) met on Thursday, December 15 for their regular board meeting. NSHE and Nevada Faculty Alliance representatives made public comment regarding the difficulties experienced by employees related to the Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) as well as comments on the proposed plan changes.  These included:
    • That the majority of our employees would prefer PEBP contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) be made at the beginning of the plan year rather than semi-annually;
    • Support was expressed for the PEBP Staff recommendation that no limits are set for roll over amounts within the HRA;
    • Major concerns regarding the high cost of prescriptions and the need for a richer prescription benefit plan were shared; and
    • Support for a middle tier plan with more predictable out of pocket costs, but with a reasonable premium, was emphasized.


    PEBP Board members acknowledged the financial difficulties that employees are experiencing with the new plan, especially with the cost of prescription.  They echoed our concerns that employees may be deferring taking medications and have asked the prescription plan provider to evaluate if this is a prevalent issue in the plan.  

    Discussion regarding the middle tier plan occurred, but the majority of the PEBP Board Members did not support such a plan. The board cited concerns with adverse selection. Additionally, concerns about future volatility of premium costs in the PEBP Self-funded plan were expressed. This volatility would be due to the anticipated, smaller population base in the CDHP should a third tier plan be added. Board members, however, did express support for the possibility of using plan savings (if there's any as a result of changing to the Consumer Driven Health Plan) to increase the seed money that goes into employees' HSA.

    In addition to the discussions summarized above, the Board approved the following plan changes:

    • Seed money going into employees' HSA and HRA account will continue to be deposited once a year, at the beginning of the plan year. The amount of the seed money remains the same at $700 per employee and $200 per covered dependent to a total maximum of $1300.  Individuals who are hired mid-year will continue to receive a prorated amount.
    ·  Currently, the cost of preventive dental care is charged to a participant's annual maximum benefit ($1000), which reduces the amount you can use for other dental benefits. For the FY13 plan year, the Board excluded preventative dental cleanings and exams from the maximum. By excluding these benefits, you will be able to use the full $1000 maximum benefit for other dental services (ie. fillings, crowns, root canals, etc). No action was proposed or taken with respect to the number of preventive dental cleanings, as such they will continue to be available four times each plan year.

    The next meeting of the PEBP Board is scheduled for January 19, 2012.  Information regarding composite rates for the plan year 2013 (beginning July 1, 2012) will be presented at that meeting. The PEBP Board are scheduled to make a final decision regarding rates at the March meeting.
  • 13 Dec 2011 9:11 PM | Anonymous
    David Holland, assistant professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has won the 2011 Nevada Professor of the Year award in the U.S. Professors of the Year Program, sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

    The award recognizes excellence in undergraduate academic instruction. Holland and his wife were invited to a celebratory reception in Washington, D.C., where they also met with U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.
     
    “I was pleased to welcome Dr. Holland and his wife, Jeanne, to my office to congratulate him on this impressive achievement,” Reid said.  “I have always remembered and carried with me the lessons my favorite professors and teachers taught me as a student.  Students at UNLV are fortunate to have such a wonderful history professor in Dr. Holland.”
     
    Holland currently teaches U.S. history and religion courses. Before joining UNLV in 2005, he was a lecturer at Stanford, where he earned his Ph.D.
  • 13 Dec 2011 1:30 PM | Anonymous
    In response to the very high concerns voiced by faculty and staff across the Nevada System of Higher Education, NFA remains actively involved in the System's efforts to restore adequate health coverage as quickly as possible. In this story, we report on two, related developments: 1. the work of the NSHE Task Force on Health Coverage seeking alternatives to current PEBP coverage through a short-term supplemental benefit for NSHE employees (possibly as early as next year) and considering a longer-term alternative outside of the Public Employees’ Benefits Program (which raises some legal and financial challenges to achieve), and 2. this Thursday's PEBP board meeting, where an alternative to current coverage will be considered for next year.

    NSHE Task Force update: Legal and Financial issues related to seeking improved coverage

    At last week's Board of Regents meeting, the NSHE Task Force on Health Coverage presented an update on its work, which included the following:
    • data from research (with the help of an external consultant) on current costs, coverage and insurance utilization of NSHE employees within PEBP
    • discussions with the PEBP board of improvements that we hope to see in both customer service and coverage
    • an exploration of longer-term alternatives to current coverage for NSHE employees through a self-funded insurance program outside of PEBP
    The report did not discuss another aspect of the task force's charge and earlier report, the exploration of an NSHE-funded supplemental benefit for faculty and staff for next fiscal year, as a stopgap measure. The board discussion showed a great deal of concern among regents about the current state of affairs and longer-term solutions, but no formal action was taken.

    In light of this discussion, and the high priority that faculty and staff place on this issue, it is worth explaining some of the legal and financial issues involved in this discussion.

    First, neither the board of regents, the chancellor nor the campus presidents have the authority to seek insurance for their employees outside of PEPB. That would require approval of the PEBP board and/or legislative action. That approval is not assured and would require a careful effort by the System as a whole to educate the legislature and the governor, and to convince them that this would lead not only to better coverage for us but be cost-effective for the entire state.

    Under current PEBP board policy, any group of employees that leaves the program must demonstrate that the withdrawal of those participants would not have a negative financial impact on the overall program of greater than 5 percent. If PEBP determines that the withdrawal would have an adverse impact of greater than 5 percent, the group withdrawing is responsible to cover all costs of its departure on the remaining participants.

    One question the NSHE consultant will study is whether the withdrawl of NSHE participants as a group would have a negative financial impact on PEBP of greater than 5 percent of its total program budget. If that were the case, then we would need legislative action to change that rule before we could pursue alternative insurance. (It would also mean, of course, that NSHE participants had paid significantly more over the recent past than we have received in benefits. If that is the case, it would mean that the reserve funds held by PEBP came disproportionately from NSHE participants – and this would be an argument for letting NSHE withdraw without having to pay for the cost to remaining PEBP participants.)

    At the November PEBP board meeting, NSHE leadership (namely, then vice-chancellor Bart Patterson, and now Renee Yackira, director of government relations for NSHE) testified to the PEBP board to express our concerns. They urged PEBP to consider, as early as next year, a "middle tier" of coverage between the current high-premium, fee-for-service HMO and the much-derided high deductible "consumer-driven" plan that replaced the old PPO.

    However, such a "middle tier" may not be financially feasible for PEBP to offer, because the costs to the program have increased at a rate of roughly 10 percent per year for each of the past several years. These rising costs are the main issue in the question of whether NSHE – and the state – could get better coverage for the same money than PEBP currently offers. The question of whether PEBP reimburses health care providers at higher rates than other insurance plans has been posed going back to the 2009 legislature, but has not been fully answered. (The PEBP board and staff have stated publicly that rising costs are due to over-utilization of service by participants and that the "consumer-driven" high-deductible plan will curb that over-utilization and cut costs. Critics of PEBP's coverage have maintained that the roughly 10-percent annual increase in the cost of the program has been passed along almost entirely to state public service workers, rather than reducing the rates it pays providers. This claim is hard to verify, however, because reimbursement rates to providers are considered proprietary information and are not publicly available to participants.)

    There is then the separate issue of supplemental benefits within NSHE. The task force was charged to consider this possibility and recommended consideration in its report of last January and has continued to discuss this in meetings this fall. This issue was not explicitly presented in the task force's report to the board on Dec. 2, but several regents did ask about whether immediate action would be possible.

    A supplemental benefit for NSHE employees would not require legislative approval or, based on what the task force has researched, PEBP approval. It would, however, require NSHE to spend its own money on supplemental benefits. The issue then becomes whether 1. NSHE wants to spend between $5 million and $15 million of its aggregate $1.2 billion budget on a supplement to bring health coverage for faculty and staff up to a minimally acceptable standard, and 2. there would be negative political consequences for the System for doing so that might outweigh the negative consequences for its staff of not doing so.

    PEBP board update: Middle tier of coverage to be considered this Thursday

    This Thursday, December 15, the Public Employees Benefit Program governing board, composed of gubernatorial appointees, will hold its regular monthly meeting (for agenda, backup information and links to view or listen to the meeting, click here). As part of this meeting, the PEBP board will consider adopting a "middle tier" of coverage option for next year. Such a "middle tier" would be more comprehensive than both the new (and much-maligned) "consumer-driven" plan – which offers choice of doctors but limited coverage until a high deductible has been met – and the health maintenance organization – which charges lower fees for each service, but charges higher premiums and offers limited choices. The proposed "middle tier" would restore deductibles to near-2009-2010 levels ($500 per year for individuals and $1,000 per year for families) and fixed-cost co-payments for office visits ($15 for a primary care visit, $25 for a specialist, $45 for urgent care). It also would restore low, set-priced fees for generic drugs ($4 for 30 days supply) and reduce co-insurance costs to 10 percent for many services. On the other hand, participants in this plan would not be eligible to contribute to a Health Savings Account, so they would receive no "seed money" to offset costs incurred during the year. Moreover, the premiums are likely to be much higher – and will not be known until February 2012.

    As a different alternative for creating a "middle tier," PEBP will also consider offering three plan choices: two CDH plans and an HMO plan. Under this scenario, participants could choose the HMO or one of two CDH plans with differing deductible, coinsurance, maximum out-of-pocket and HSA seed money amounts. One option would offer a lower deductible option ($1,200 per individual, $2,400 per family) that would also have a lower out-of-pocket maximum ($3,000 and $6,000) and a lower co-insurance (20 percent), but would offer only $400 (individual) or up to $700 (family) in seed money to the Health Savings Account. The other, higher-deductible option  would require individuals to pay $3,000 ($6,000 for families) before receiving coverage, and insureds could incur higher out-of-pocket maximums ($4,500 for individuals, $6,000 for families) and would pay a higher co-insurace rate (25 percent). However, participants would receive a higher amount of seed money ($1,100 per individual, up to $2,000 per family) and, presumably, pay a lower monthly premium.

    In all cases, premium rates will not be determined until February so it is very hard to know how costly each option might be for an individual or family.
  • 09 Dec 2011 7:01 AM | Deleted user
    Dear NFA members,

    I am writing you to update you on the status of our negotiations with the AAUP, which have been on-going for more than a year.

     

    In late January 2010, when we first learned that the System of Higher Education would have a second round of cuts in state support, of 7% - beyond the first 25% reduction in state support passed by the 2009 legislature, it was clear immediately that this would lead to program eliminations and terminations of faculty. With the authorization of the NFA state board, I contacted the AAUP's Department of Organizing and Member Services and requested AAUP support in three areas: legal support for the defense of faculty contract rights, membership recruitment and chapter development, and communications.

     

    And that's where it has stood to this day - NFA requesting support from AAUP whose response has been to propose actions that we did not ask for and which we doubted would help our situation. Of course, the AAUP did impose a new dues policy in July 2010 which would increase the total NFA dues bill by at least 15% and require more than half of our members' annual NFA dues to be sent to Washington. Paying such a dues bill would leave the NFA in the red -- even after having reduced our annual overall expenditures by nearly 20% in the past few years, while enhancing services in communications, legal defense, and government relations,

     

    Clearly the AAUP's demand that we pay such a level of dues is not viable. Is there an alternative? We believe so, but the AAUP has yet to agree to a serious discussion that recognizes the NFA's unique organization and set of member service we think are needed in Nevada higher education.

     

    NFA members are asking, rightly, are we still AAUP members? To be clear, yes you are. No change in membership status with respect to the AAUP has been or will be initiated by NFA.

     

    I think the more pressing question is what it means to be an AAUP member when the Association staff has been unresponsive to our needs, since January 2010, during the gravest threat to quality affordable higher education and to faculty employment rights in our organization's history?

     

    On legal defense, the AAUP has never contributed any funds or legal research to the NFA's legal defense program. Our legal defense efforts are entire the work of our members and, when outside counsel is retained, paid for by our members' dues. There is simply no AAUP support there.

     

    The AAUP's investigative authority of potential violations of academic freedom and tenure is supposed to be its most valuable service to members, but even as we've worked hard, and with some success, to fend off or reduce layoffs of tenured faculty on two NSHE campuses in the past two years, we've received little follow-up from the AAUP aside from letters sent to the president on one institution.

     

    On membership recruitment and chapter development, the NFA needs help, because our campus chapter presidents have been unable to undertake sustainable membership drives in recent years. We asked the AAUP staff organizer who came in 2010 - for all of two days - for ideas on how restructure and re-energize our campus chapters to be more effective but received no follow-up. (Indeed, our longstanding concern with the AAUP over its acceptance of Nevada members who enroll directly in any campus chapter -- and who do not pay dues to the NFA -- has never been addressed.)

     

    Most frustratingly, the AAUP seems to prefer to focus its communications efforts on causes that generate national headlines but are not in service of our members. It took the AAUP only days to issue a statement of support for "Occupy Wall Street protestors" but despite repeated requests, not any public statement or public communication has ever been made about the steep budget cuts or their impact on faculty in Nevada.

     

    Certainly the AAUP publications, including Academe, are tangible benefits to members, but the total annual cost per member for an Academe subscription is $35. However, the dues assessments we have received from the AAUP - but which we have not paid - assess almost all our members at the highest of the AAUP's seven rates , an average of over $150 per member per year.

     

    This situation is why the NFA state board voted last January to suspend dues payments to AAUP until a more reasonable balance could be struck between actual services rendered and the dues demanded. We have proposed, in writing and in face-to-face meetings with national representatives, that our dues be put into an escrow account to be used to pay for those services actually rendered to members in the state of Nevada - whether by AAUP or the NFA. The per capita cost of Academe and any actual leadership training by the AAUP would of course be paid out of this fund. But in the absence of an AAUP presence in the state, those funds would be used to continue to professionalize our operations, as we have done with communications very successfully in the past year.

     

    To prove our seriousness of purpose in devoting 100% of dues money to member services, we have cut our expenditures significantly. For instance, we have in the past year reduced the cost for state board members to travel to meetings by over $5000 by opting for videoconferences and conference calls. Moreover, we have cut staff expenses by nearly $10,000. And we have cuts in our communications, while greatly expanding the scope and influence of our communications, by consolidating print and electronic publications into a single production process and by reducing the number of excess copies of the Alliance sent to each campus. Moreover, we continue to benefit from professional work provided by state board members without compensation above a stipend to cover modest expenses and release time.

     

    But the AAUP's response has been, repeatedly, that "there is no alternative" to the exorbitant dues, and they have asked us to pass that cost along to our members through higher in-state dues. Our Board has refused to consider that option.

     

    We are now applying for what the AAUP terms a "State Conference Grant" which would reduce our per capita assessment, so this application would seem the perfect opportunity for the AAUP to work with us to help refocus members' dues into badly needed improvements in services in the state. We must improve the available services in the state, because we cannot continue to function on a "kill the volunteer" model in which the highly demanding tasks of Legal Defense, Government Relations, operations and, most importantly member recruitment and chapter development, are borne entirely by our members who also have full-time jobs and lives to attend to. Certainly we need more of our members to become engaged. But even so, we cannot continue to rely on members to function as full-time volunteers for the NFA in capacities such as board president, legal defense chair, or government relations officer (as we have done for years).

     

    To find that support and put the NFA on a sustainable footing for the future, we must have a response from the AAUP that addresses concretely our members' needs. We are hoping and expecting such a response during the first quarter of 2012. If it is not forthcoming, we will have to decide then on our next step. Should we seek another affiliation? Or should we set our own course and use the money that we have been holding effectively in escrow to hire a part-time or full-time executive director to oversee member services and chapter development? Other state conferences have field staff to assist their members and officers. I believe that in the next few months, the NFA ought to act definitively to plan for the future by budgeting for and contracting an organizing director.

     

    Many NFA members, including myself, value greatly our AAUP affiliation, but the fact remains that the NFA provides all its own legal defense, government relations, communications, member services and chapter development work with no financial, logistical or even moral support from the AAUP. Certainly there is much we cannot do on our own - and especially without a more engaged and active membership. So there is a need for AAUP support to expand and energize our membership if they can do that. In the next few months we hope to hear from them a proposal to provide the support and services we need, at a dues price we can afford.

     

    If such a proposal is not forthcoming, then we will consult the membership on the alternatives we as individuals and as a state conference have to achieve these goals, either in affiliation with or, if need be, separate from the AAUP.

     

    In closing, please know that the spirit of the AAUP - the defense of faculty rights and the advocacy for quality, accessible higher education -- is not in Washington or in our state board or our chapter officers; it is in each and every one of you as members. Your actions, your energy and your involvement, more than ever, are needed for the future of higher education in Nevada.    

     

    In solidarity,

     

     

    Gregory Brown
    NFA President
  • 02 Dec 2011 11:26 AM | Anonymous
    Editor's note: The following statement was delivered to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents during their meeting at University of Las Vegas, Nevada, Dec. 1, 2011.

    Good Afternoon. My name is Shaun Franklin-Sewell. I’m the UNLV Faculty Senate Administrative Faculty Committee Chair, and I’m here on behalf of all UNLV employees to address you regarding our health insurance.

    In order to gauge employee concerns about health care and Public Employee Benefit Program customer service and plan options, the Administrative Faculty Committee and the Fiscal Affairs Committee of the UNLV Faculty Senate and the Classified Staff Council conducted a survey of all UNLV employees. Nearly one-third of UNLV employees responded, so we feel it is an accurate gauge of issues employees are facing regarding their health care.

    Chief Executive Officer and Special Counsel Wasserman has received a copy of the survey report, and at this time, I will only report the conclusions we were able to draw from the survey.
    1. The authors of the survey understand that the Public Employees Benefits Program is responsible for these changes. However, the comments received through the survey indicate that, despite UNLV’s best efforts at educating employees about the responsible party, many employees believe their leadership, both at the institution and system level, is responsible. One Academic Faculty member calls the plan “a real disservice to YOUR employees.” Another employee says, “UNLV should be ashamed of itself for providing such shoddy, expensive, confusing and limited coverage.”
    2. Additional comments received by the authors of the survey also suggest that the concern about an inability to recruit and retain top quality faculty and staff is greater than it was prior to the close of the last fiscal year, in part because of the changes to health benefits. One faculty member reports, “I am actively looking to separate from UNLV/NSHE because of this increase.”
    3. UNLV employees are suffering as a result of these changes. They are delaying medical care and not filling prescriptions. They are making very difficult choices between obtaining medical care now and waiting for a medical crisis. A classified staff member comments, “My breast cancer meds are $350 a month now, for generic, compared to $5 generic before. I can't afford that.” These changes have dramatically impacted employee morale.
    4. The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents should direct the NSHE PEBP Task Force to proceed with all due haste to obtain other health coverage for its employees.
    5. As the Task Force’s research has already shown, the level of access to health care that our employees are receiving is inferior – both to what we used to receive via the Public Employees Benefits Program and to what employees of other private and public organizations in Nevada receive.
    6. The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents should implement a supplemental insurance policy and/or provide a supplement to the dollars provided in the Health Savings Account.
    7. We are not seeking “added” benefits. We are seeking a return to an acceptable level of access to health care.
    Thank you for your leadership, Chancellor Klaich, in creating the Task Force, and thank you for your leadership, Regents, in encouraging that the Task Force continue  its mission. Finally, thank you Senior Vice President Bomotti for allowing us to present these results as part of your Task Force’s work.

  • 01 Dec 2011 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    Hundreds of people turned out for a town hall meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, held Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. The meeting was meant to address education’s role in improving the economy.

    Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich moderated the hour-long town hall, which also included panelists from local education and the community: Dwight Jones, superintendent of Clark County Schools; Ruben Murillo, president of Clark County Education Association; Calvin Rock, former pastor of Abundant Life Seventh Day Adventist Church; Luis Valera, board chair of the Latin Chamber of Commerce; and Elaine Wynn, chair for Communities in Schools and co-chair of the Greater Las Vegas After School All-Stars.

    “We have to educate our way to a better economy,” said Duncan, according to a Las Vegas Sun report. “In a competitive, knowledge-based economy, jobs are going to go where the knowledge workers are ... We can’t teeter around the edges; we have to look for radical change.”

    “Nevada’s education system plays a critical role in our state's economy and will take on an even greater role as we seek to create a better educated workforce and to better align our education system with economic opportunities,” Klaich added, in a statement. “Nevada’s students are our future and it will take a community effort to make sure we are providing them with the right access and quality to ensure their success and ultimately, the success of our state.”

    The town hall meeting was part of an ongoing discussion Duncan is holding with similar town halls around the country and via social media. To hear his Dec. 1 interview on KNPR’s State of Nevada, click here.

  • 22 Nov 2011 2:17 PM | Anonymous
    The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents has organized a presidential search committee and an institutional advisory committee to select the next University of Nevada, Reno, president. Their first meeting was held on Friday, Oct. 14, when the committee heard testimony from members and others about what UNR should be looking for in a new president.

    On Dec. 9 the committee will interview and select a search consultant and also work on the presidential prospectus. The committee will meet again on Dec. 16 with the search consultant and finalize the prospectus. Advertisements will be published shortly thereafter.

    Regents on the search committee are: James Dean Leavitt, chair, Jason Geddes, Kevin Melcher, Kevin Page and Rick Trachok. The committee will work with a large advisory group made up of professional employees selected by the faculty Senate, student leadership representatives, classified staff and others, including a number of community representatives.

    They are (faculty senate) W. (Pat) Arnott, Bill Follette, Stephen Lafer, Donica Mensing and Chuck Price; ASUN President Casey Stiteler; (administrators) Rita Laden, Emma Sepulveda Pulvirenti and Bruce Shively; Erik Williams, staff employment council; Denise Cordova, affirmative action; and (community) Alfredo Alonso, Kirk Clausen, Bob Davidson, Rick Hsu, Jean Jones, Mary Simmons, Angie Taylor and
    Harvey Whittemore.

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