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  • 15 Jun 2012 11:07 AM | Anonymous
    This week, on KSNV's program "Inside Nevada," former Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Jim Rogers interviewed NFA President Gregory Brown, chair of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Faculty Senate.

    "We think it's important that this conversation is taking place," Brown said, of the formula Nevada currently uses to determine higher ed funding, which is now being revised. "It's really cost the whole state, in terms of credibility."

    During the interview, Brown also addresses the role of faculty senates and improvements that are being made in the state's undergraduate education.

    Watch Parts 1, 2 and 3 below, or at Clip Syndicate.

  • 05 Jun 2012 3:18 PM | Anonymous
    The Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education re-elected Jason Geddes chairman and Kevin Page vice-chairman of the board of regents. The two begin their terms, which last for one year, on July 1.

    Former Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn appointed Geddes to the board in 2006. He represents District 11, Washoe County, and was re-elected to the post in 2008. He first became chair of the board in 2011.

    Geddes is a native of Winnemucca and attended school in Northern Nevada, from Elementary school in Gabbs, through a B.S. in biochemistry and Ph.D. in environmental sciences from the University of Nevada, Reno. Following a politically active college life, in 2002 he was elected to the State Assembly, where he served on committees for education, judiciary, and natural resources, agriculture and mining.

    Former Governor Jim Gibbons appointed Kevin Page to the board of regents in January 2009. He was re-elected in 2010.

    Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., Page earned a B.S. in business administration in finance in 1986 and his M.B.A. from UNLV in 1987. He was named Outstanding Alumni for the College of Business and Economics in 2000. In 2006, he received awards for both UNLV Alumnus of the Year and NSHE Board of Regents' Distinguished Nevadan Award.

    Since 2000, Page has been managing director and senior relationship manager for Wells Capital Management-Institutional Investment Management Services.
  • 05 Jun 2012 2:58 PM | Anonymous
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas, President Neal Smatresk announced that John Valery White, who has been dean of UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law since 2007, is the university's new executive vice president and provost. He replaces Michael Bowers, who has served as interim provost since 2009.

    On July 1, 2012, White will assume his new role, which includes oversight of UNLV's academic and budgetary policy and priorities. According to a news release, it is the provost's job to ensure the quality of faculty and to help expand the institution's research enterprise. White will report to Smatresk and act as chief executive in the president's absence.

    Smatresk said: “John White is an innovative leader, who guided the Boyd Law School at UNLV into one of the nation’s best, and I am confident he will help build our national reputation in collaboration with our deans, faculty, student and executive leadership.”

    “I look forward to building upon UNLV’s engagement in the community, and ensuring the university is student centered and focused on research and great instruction,” said White, who is credited with increasing the law school's scholarship funding, first-time bar passage rates and national rankings during his tenure.

    White earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1991 and went on to work on prison and human rights practices in Egypt while a fellow at Human Rights Watch in New York. He later joined the law school at Louisiana State University, where for 15 years he wrote and lectured extensively about civil rights law.
  • 18 May 2012 4:56 PM | Anonymous
    Effective this past Wednesday, May 16, a new executive committee has taken office at the Truckee Meadows Community College chapter of the NFA. The new officers are as follows:
    • President: Julia Hammett
    • Vice President: Bill Newhall
    • Secretary: Julie Muhle
    • Treasurer: Jamie Campbell
    Hammett, who is an anthropology professor at TMCC, reported the news to members at the college's chapter meeting the same day. In a message to the state board, she said, "I look forward to working with all of you," and expressed her solidarity with faculty and staff throughout the state.
  • 04 May 2012 11:59 AM | Anonymous
    This list identifies our continuing endorsements, consisting of candidates seeking re-election whom we endorsed in the past; and our first set of early endorsements, consisting primarily of candidates we have endorsed previously in races for other office. Our next set of endorsements will be in selected contested races, based on completed questionnaires and interviews.

    Board of Regents - Continuing
    Cedric Crear (District 1)
    Richard Trachok (10)

    Assembly - Continuing
    Paul Aizley (District 41)
    Elliot Anderson (15)
    Maggie Carlton (14)
    Richard Carrillo (18)
    Marcus Conklin (37)
    Olivia Diaz (11)
    Lucy Flores (28)
    Jason Frierson (8)
    Joe Hogan (10)
    William Horne (34)
    Marilyn Kirkpatrick (1)
    Marilyn Dondero Loop (5)
    April Mastrolucca (29)
    Harvey Munford (6)
    Dina Neal (7)
    James Ohrenschall (12)
    Peggy Pierce (3)
    Lyn Stewart (22)

    Senate - Continuing
    John Lee (District 1)
    David Parks (7)

    Assembly - Early
    Teresa Benitez-Thompson (District 27)
    David Bobzien (24)
    Skip Daly (31)
    Tom Grady (38)
    Pat Hickey (25)
    Randy Kirner (26)
    Andrew Martin (9)
    Ellen Barr Spiegel (20)
    Heidi Swank (16)

    Senate - Early
    Kelvin Atkinson (District 4)
    Pete Goicoechea (Rural)
    Justin Jones (9)
    Sheila Leslie (3)
    Richard Segerblom (3)
    Debbie Smith (1)

  • 02 May 2012 3:42 PM | Anonymous
    Within the past week, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents has approved the recommendations of president search committees at Great Basin College in Elko, Nevada State College in Las Vegas, and the University of Nevada, Reno.

    Marc JohnsonMarc Johnson , who has served as UNR's interim president since April 2011, assumed the presidency on April 20. He is receiving $246,427 in base pay, plus a $119,997 annual salary supplement provided by the UNR Foundation.

    Bart PattersonBart J. Patterson, who has served as the interim president of NSC since November 2011, assumed the presidency on April 30. He received a three-year contract for $250,000 in base pay, plus an annual housing ($15,000), automobile ($8,000) and hosting ($5,000) allowance.

    Mark A. Curtis, who is currently the vice president of academic and student affairs at Alpena Community College in Alpena, Mich., will assume the GBC presidency on July 1, 2012, with a three-year contract for $180,000 in base pay, plus an annual housing ($12,000), automobile ($8,000) and hosting ($5,000) allowance.

  • 02 May 2012 2:52 PM | Anonymous
    Editor's note: Tracy Sherman, chair of the College of Southern Nevada faculty senate, made the following statement on behalf of the Nevada System of Higher Education Council of Faculty Senate Chairs to the Board of Regents on Friday April 20:

    On the Public Employees' Benefits Program, some small but significant steps have been taken in the last few weeks. The PEBP Board at its rescheduled meeting on March 29 did allocate – as NSHE and UNLV representatives had sought – all its projected excess reserve to reduce out-of-pocket costs for faculty and staff and their families in 2012-2013, primarily by enhancing HSA/HRA employer contributions for next year. 

    While this will bring some monetary benefit to most faculty and staff for next year (though not, unfortunately, those enrolled in the HMO plan), it is heartening as well that the public discussion of PEBP’s excess reserves highlights the point that many faculty and staff believe – and that the NSHE task force continues to study – that competitive health coverage can be made available to NSHE faculty and staff without additional cost to the state.

    The PEBP Board also, at the urging particularly of NSHE faculty and staff, approved state subsidies for domestic partners of state public service workers enrolled in PEBP, on the same basis as spouses. 

    The PEBP Board, however, chose not to alter the basic plan design, as we had sought, to offer participants a “middle tier” (between HMO and the current high-deductible option) that would offer predictable and clearly comprehensible costs for office visits and prescription drugs. All faculty and staff should continue to advocate for such an alternative for NSHE in the 2013-2015 biennium, either from PEBP or from another insurance pool.

    (Sherman was referring to changes approved by the PEBP Board during its March 29 meeting. Pat La Putt, senior manager of benefits and human resource administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, provided the following summary of the meeting.)

    The PEBP Board met to discuss rates for plan year 2013 and decide on options for using the expected unrestricted surplus of $29.4 million as of June 30, 2012 (in addition to the projected 13.8-percent rise in the employer/state/Nevada System of Higher Education contribution to PEBP for fiscal year 2013).

    NSHE and NFA representatives made public comment regarding the difficulties experienced by employees related to the Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) as well as comments on how to use the unrestricted surplus. These included:
    • Utilizing a majority if not all of the unrestricted surplus to reduce premiums and enhance benefits
    • Support for providing a subsidy to Domestic Partners in the same manner as those provided to spouses
    • Continued concerns regarding the high cost of medical care and prescriptions
    • An appeal for the board to consider adding a middle tier plan with more predictable out-of-pocket costs, but with a reasonable premium, if not for plan year 2013, then for plan year 2014
    The PEBP Board approved taking the following actions:
    • Provide a subsidy to domestic partners in the same manner as those provided to spouses (uses $500,000 of unrestricted surplus).
    • Use approximately $6.9 million of the unrestricted surplus to limit rate increases to half of what they would have been based on information provided by PEBP actuaries.
    • In addition to the contribution to HSA/HRA accounts of $700 for primary participants and $200 for each dependent(maximum of 3 dependents) that employees enrolled in the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) will receive on July 1, use $15.7 million to provide the following one-time additional contributions to HSA/HRA accounts to employees and retirees:
      • $400 contribution to HSA/HRA accounts for employees and retirees enrolled in the HDHP effective July 1, 2012. So for plan year 2013, a participant will receive $1,100 ($700 regular contribution + $400 one-time contribution).
      • $100 contribution to HSA/HRA accounts for each dependent (maximum of 3 dependents) of a primary participant enrolled in the HDHP effective July 1, 2012. So for Plan Year 2013, each dependent to a maximum of 3 dependents will receive $300 ($200 regular contribution + $100 one-time contribution)
      • $200 contribution to HSA/HRA accounts for each active employee age 45 or older as of June 30, 2012, enrolled in the HDHP effective July 1, 2012. The board asserted that this group of employees has been impacted more by the change to the HDHP since it tends to need care more than younger employees and the board wanted to provide some additional relief for this group. So for plan year 2013, a participant age 45 or older will receive $1,300 ($700 regular contribution + $400 one-time contribution + $200 one-time contribution). This one-time contribution will use approximately one-tenth of the restricted surplus.
      • $200 contribution to HSA/HRA for each retiree with more than 20 years of service and enrolled in the HDHP effective July 1, 2012.
      • In addition to the $10 per month, per year of service that retirees in the Medicare exchange receive, a one-time $2 per month, per year of service contribution to HRA accounts will be provided to retirees enrolled in the Medicare Exchange effective July 1, 2012.
    • Use the remaining $6.3 million in unrestricted surplus to ease any rate increases in plan year 2014 effective July 1, 2013.
    • Provide all HSA/HRA contributions to employees on July 1, 2012.

    The PEBP Board also changed the percentage of the premiums that is subsidized by the employer to the following:

    PLAN YEAR 2012
    PLAN YEAR 2013
    Active Primary
    Active Dependent

    Rates for plan year 2013 beginning July 1, 2012 will be:

      Employee only
      Employee plus Spouse/DP
      Employee plus Child(ren)
      Employee plus Family
      Employee only
      Employee plus Spouse/DP
      Employee plus Child(ren)
      Employee plus Family
  • 26 Apr 2012 7:23 AM | Anonymous
    The Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education met April 25 in Las Vegas, where Chancellor Klaich was questioned about a number of features of the proposal he has submitted for consideration.

    Some of attendees' questions and comments follow:
    • Should an F grade should count as a completion of a course?
    • What would be the method used to recognize and help fund research done at the two universities?
    • Should O & M funding be integrated into the overall proposal instead of treated separately and outside the formula?
    • This appears to be a “one size fits all” approach to costing out courses throughout the System.
    • How would cost ratios among disciplines be calculated?
    • There is a lack of national benchmarks used in the proposed approach. 
    Gregory Brown, NFA president, presented a resolution of the UNLV faculty senate. It argued that any restoration for compensation ought to be included directly in campus base budgets, just as reductions in compensation were taken directly from campus base budgets in 2009.

    This, Brown noted, would not only be consistent with the practice of other states that have implemented funding formulas based on student outcomes, but would also send an important message to students, assuring them that any restoration of competitive compensation would be based upon additional state allocation, not based – as the Board made clear at its December and January meetings – on student fee increments.

    Faculty believe that assuring quality education through recruitment and retention of the best faculty must be paired with a commitment to access and affordability for students. Calculating restoration of salary separately from the formula, they said, supports these two objectives.

    The committee also heard a lengthy report by SRI International, the consultancy assisting the committee, concerning how tuition is treated by legislatures around the country. The report revealed what many have suspected, that Nevada is nearly unique in counting tuition collected against what is due to the institutions from the State general fund.

    The biggest surprise of the meeting came when Chairman Steven Horsford gained approval to appoint two subcommittees, one charged with looking at how local government contribute to community colleges around the country.

    For links to meeting materials, click here.
  • 21 Apr 2012 10:12 AM | Anonymous
    On Friday, April 20, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents voted to authorize a vote of the Western Nevada College faculty to decide whether it would like to be represented by the Nevada Faculty Alliance for a collective bargaining agreement with WNC.

    The WNC academic faculty participated in a card drive, in which cards returned from 84 percent of the eligible faculty expressed the desire for an official vote for collective bargaining. This level of interest was not lost on the regents, whose own handbook (and federal law) requires only 30 percent of the faculty at an institution to sign cards for a vote to be held.

    According to Jim Strange, president of the WNC chapter of NFA, the only discussion concerned whether the regents' approval could be made by the board at a special meeting. Regent Ron Knect observed that when the rule was initially established that such action could only occur at a regular meeting, the board of regents met monthly.  In an effort to meet the will and interests of the WNC academic faculty, the regents voted swiftly and unanimously to allow the vote to occur prior to the end of the academic year. 
    WNC faculty leaders have been communicating to faculty and answering their questions about the process and impact of selecting to be represented through a collective bargaining agreement. They will conduct an open forum Friday, April 27, from noon to 2 p.m. in Marlett Hall in Carson City, and VRGH 308 in Fallon.

    A collective bargaining agreement for faculty, under state law and NSHE code, cannot address compensation or benefits but could address campus governance issues, including workload policy.

    The vote will be held between May 5 and May 20, 2012.
  • 13 Mar 2012 10:15 AM | Anonymous
    On behalf of the more than 3,500 Nevada System of Higher Education faculty and professional staff across the state, represented by the NSHE Council of Senate Chairs and the NFA, we urge the Public Employees’ Benefits Program board, as it sets rates and considers modifications to plan design for fiscal year 2012-2013, to devote all available resources, including excess reserves and the scheduled increase in employer premiums, to slow the skyrocketing increase in out-of-pocket costs for public service workers and their families.

    Specifically, we urge that you…
    1. Subsidize domestic partners, which we have supported for nearly 10 years.
    2. Reduce premiums on all PEBP participants to reverse the alarming increase in the number of our colleagues declining coverage altogether.
    3. Address the alarming increase in HMO premiums for southern Nevada.
    4. Enhance contributions, at the beginning of the contract year, to the HSA/HRA accounts and clarify how this money can be used.
    The faculty and staff of NSHE have expressed, in numerous public venues, our concern over the negative consequences to our System's competitiveness in an active market for skilled academic talent. Particularly in light of the diminution of our salaries by 4.8 percent, amidst a national trend in which higher ed salaries increased by 1.9 percent last year, the state of Nevada and thus PEBP ought to be making its highest priority the shaping of a benefits plan that is as competitive as possible given available resources committed by the state and by PEBP participants, of which NSHE workers represent about one-third.

    Included in that one-third are our colleagues among the classified state workforce on NSHE campuses. Among these workers, a majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year, the sharp increases in out-of-pocket, up-front costs resulting from the conversion to a high deductible plan (an increase of several thousand dollars per year for some families) have forced a significant rise in the number foregoing care, either by opting out of insurance altogether or by declining prescribed cures, especially by reducing medical dosages below prescribed levels to cut costs.

    The conversion of the PPO to a high-deductible plan, accompanied by a jump in premiums and co-insurance, along with the sharp increase in premiums for HMO enrollees (especially in the south, where rates increased more sharply due to the blending of subsidies), has had a well-documented negative effect on our workforce. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, survey of faculty and staff conducted in November found that in addition to an unacceptably high 3.2 percent of workers who declined medical insurance entirely due to costs, more than 60 percent of those who are covered reported either skipping prescribed medications or taking medications less frequently than doctor's orders to reduce out-of-pocket expense.

    Lest one think this is merely a matter of faculty and staff cutting back on vanity care, our survey identified three instances of faculty or staff skipping prescribed insulin to control diabetes because they could not afford the cost of either the insulin pump or of the insulin itself at the end of the pay period.

    We have therefore urged -- and continue to urge -- the board to consider a "middle tier" plan, if not for fiscal year 2013, then for the next biennium, that would allow participants to better anticipate (and budget for) the out-of-pocket cost of medical care through a separate prescription drug deductible and fixed co-pays for doctor visits.

    When an enhancement of coverage options was first suggested to the board last fall, the response was that modifications to plan design would not be financially feasible or would come at such a high rate of participant premium as to be nonviable. However, it appears from the program's last two quarterly financial reports that, in actual cash terms, the program is accruing money to its reserve rapidly. Last spring, during the 2011 legislative session, PEBP staff told a legislative committee that if the plan did not switch from a conventional PPO model to a high-deductible plan, participant over-utilization would drive the program to lose approximately $80 million in the 2011-2013 biennium. However, it now appears that at the end of the 2010-2011 plan year, when we abandoned the conventional coverage paradigm, the plan had accrued between $20 million and $43 million in excess reserves -- above those necessary to meet the cost of care encumbered but not yet claimed and of catastrophic claims. As of Sept. 30, 2011, the plan had an excess reserve of $43 million, some $32 million above that which PEBP had projected for the legislature in its work program.

    And the most recent financial report states that, while the projected end-of-year excess reserve is down to $29.8 million (due to the loss of an anticipated $12.5 million in federal grants, not due to any increase in claims or coverage), the actual available reserve is up to $55 million -- some $44 million above what was projected in the budget submitted to the legislature. That is quite far to miss the mark, and participants really do deserve an explanation.

    Even more importantly, we deserve health coverage, which is the primary mission of the program, not the controlling of costs or the accrual of reserves. The state has allocated money for health coverage, participants have dutifully paid their premiums and deductibles, and the program appears to have netted at least $10 million last quarter. Moreover, next year the program will receive a hike in employer-side contributions, representing an increase in revenue of more than 10 percent (over $30 million statewide).

    So between this excess reserve of more than $40 million currently and an increase in revenue of more than $30 million for fiscal year 2013, the program clearly has the funds necessary to lower premiums for all participants and enhance HSA contributions. We urge the PEBP board to do so.

    A final thought. We are aware that the staff is disposed not to alter the current plan design in order to see how it works out over the course of the biennium. From a scholarly standpoint, we understand this interest in carrying an experiment through to its conclusion. However, the mission of PEBP is not to show how to get us to use less care; it is to provide the care we actually do need, to the best of its ability and resources.

    That need is clear, the resources are available, and the time is now. We urge the board to commit to reducing out-of-pocket costs and enhancing coverage options for next year and beyond.

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