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NFA News & Opinion

  • 01 Jul 2015 6:45 PM | Deleted user

    "I would like to thank you and the other members of the NFA leadership for the advice and counsel during the last academic year regarding Faculty-in-Residence workload issues.  I appreciated receiving objective and fact-based opinions that assisted in resolving the issue amicably."  

    Prof X, UNLV

  • 15 Jun 2015 6:53 PM | Deleted user

    By David Steel, NFA Executive Director

    The 2015 legislative session has come to a close. There were several victories for faculty, including a restoration of base pay via the elimination of furloughs. NFA would like to thank the many members who gave their time and effort in the session.

    Here are the results on the legislative priority issues adopted by the NFA State Board January 2015 (no order):

    * End furloughs

    Furloughs, which amount to a 2.3% salary deduction, are set to end July 1, 2015.

    * Ensure adequate NSHE funding, particularly the merit pool

    NFA sought a merit pool amounting to a 2.5% increase each year of the biennium. No money was initially included in the proposed budget for faculty raises. NFA along with faculty senates and NSHE fought to change this. The final result was that, although merit was not funded, faculty will receive a 1% across the board raise in July 2015 and a further 2% in July 2016.

    The legislature also found money for bridge funding for WNC and GBC, the UNLV law school, the UNLV medical school, the UNLV hotel college building, as well as new need-based scholarships. Further, the State increased the retirement contribution by 1.25%, which although meaning a decrease in immediate compensation as faculty mandatory contribution will increase by the same amount, ultimately increases overall compensation.

    While the overall result of the session was a substantial increase to the higher education budget, NFA continues to believe that full funding of merit is an important objective that will boost Nevada's regional competitiveness in hiring as well as faculty morale. Faculty have seen slashed and stagnant wages for years since the Great Recession. The increases granted in this session, while a welcome change, will not return NSHE faculty salaries to their former ranking vis a vis those of faculty in other states. Accordingly, NFA President-elect Jim Strange presented a statement authorized by the NFA State Board to the NSHE Regents on June 11th, calling for merit to be funded either by NSHE or at the institution level.

    * No outsourcing distance education

    No plans to outsource distance education were proposed in the session.

    * Preserve or enhance PEBP benefits

    PEBP rates will increase starting July 1, 2015, with the amount depending on coverage level, from $2.74 per month for employee only PPO CDHP coverage to $27.80 per month for a family coverage HMO plan. The wellness program, which previously allowed the possibility a $50 per month benefit, was also eliminated.

    * Preserve payroll deduction and arbitration rights for public employees

    The proposed bill AB 182 would have eliminated both payroll deduction and arbitration rights for public employees. NFA along with many other organizations representing state employees opposed the bill. In the end, AB 182 was defeated. The more moderate collective bargaining reform bill, SB 241, which passed, will not impact these core features.

    * No campus carry

    Early in the session, AB 2, which would have allowed guns in vehicles on campus, and AB 148, which would have allowed guns on campus, appeared to have significant momentum. AB 2 was amended into AB 148, which passed the Assembly. NFA testified against both bills, and was the only party to introduce statistical evidence into the record. The evidence showed that campuses in states with campus carry were not made safer by the introduction of guns to campus.

    AB 148 died in the Senate, and AB 487, which reprized AB 148, met a similar fate.

    Reactions from NFA leaders:

    The composition of the legislature made this session an uphill struggle for faculty. There was a threat that the Governor's proposed budget would be gutted by a mutiny in his party, and prospects for enhancements to the Governor's budget seemed dim, particularly in the realm of faculty salaries. Campus carry appeared a fait accompli. Yet in the end there was some money given for faculty above the Governor's initial budget, and campus carry was defeated. As an organization we did what we could and I think we can be proud of the result, given the circumstances.”

    - NFA Executive Director David Steel

    This 2015 legislative session turned out fairly well in the end for NSHE faculty, even though it was something of a white knuckle ride though most of it. We are disappointed in the lack of merit funding for NSHE professionals. Next session the NFA will focus on improving its lobbying presence and continue fighting for a proactive agenda on behalf of NSHE faculty.”

    - Incoming NFA President Jim Strange

    I commend the legislature and especially the Governor for funding higher education, ending the furloughs, and a token Cost of living raise. Yet with so many of the faculty still paid at 2009 wages, with weak health insurance, and inadequate retirement plans, I can't help thinking we are only placing cookies before a chimney in the hope that Santa will bring us a New Nevada rather than truly funding a system where well-compensated professionals develop our state's workforce into one that can support a balanced economy.”

    - Incoming NFA Vice President Rob Manis

    The most famous (or infamous) bill was AB 148, the pet project of Michelle Fiore, assemblywoman from southern Nevada. NFA testified against the bill, held rallies at UNR and UNLV, prodded the new UNLV President into issuing a strong statement against the bill, lobbied legislators, and worked with students, the university administration and the Chancellor's office to stop the bill.”

    - NFA-UNLV Chapter President John Farley

  • 09 Mar 2015 4:12 PM | Deleted user

    by Glenn C. Miller, UNR NFA President

    Merit pay, salary compression and pay equity continue to be major concerns at UNR, as they are in most units of the NSHE. While all would agree that the Governor’s budget has some distinct enhancements for education overall, the lack of merit pay in the budget has long term consequences for maintaining competitive salaries for both academic and administrative faculty. This concern is magnified when state classified employees are receiving step increases.

    Since about 1985, merit has been a priority for the NFA, when Jim Richardson and others negotiated that merit increases should be part of the governor’s budget. Prior to that time, pay for faculty in the NSHE was comparatively low, compared to similar public institutions throughout the country. Following the establishment of merit, salaries rose to the point that NSHE faculty salaries were consistently above the average in these surveys, up until 2009, when salary increases effectively stopped. Thus, the absence of salary increases in the governor’s budget is an unwelcome precedent for faculty.

    The UNR NFA Board met with President Johnson and Provost Kevin in mid-February to express those concerns. Both the President and Provost had similar concerns about merit pay and were very supportive of efforts by both the NSHE lobbying team and others to promote the need for restoration for merit. They indicated that the lack of merit would continue to erode the ability of UNR to hire and retain high quality faculty and also indicated that the lack of merit that would probably need to be addressed by the Regents, or individual units of the NSHE, even if the legislature does not restore merit.

    Salary compression and equity is becoming problematic also, as faculty who arrived prior to 2009 have not seen consistent salary increases, and new faculty are being hired at pay grades that are very close to what faculty make who have been working here for 5 years or more. The president and Provost also recognize this problem and indicated that this will also receive focus, although it will cost additional money that is now in short supply.

    As Administrative Faculty were dismissed or moved to other sources of funding during the lean times in recent years, many found that they had been moved from State funding to less secure funding (from tuition, fees or other non-state money). Administrative faculty on state funds are given a one year notice for termination, except in unusual circumstances, while faculty on non-state funds are given as little as a 30 day notice, even if they have worked at the university for 20 years. These changes have dramatically reduced job security. In at least three cases over the past 3 months, administrative faculty have been dismissed with 60 days or less notice. Since state money has been reduced by over 30%, and each institution is now allowed to retain out-of-state funding, the proportion of administrative faculty on 30 day notices is expected to increase, compared to when the Nevada State budget included many of these positions under state funding. Even if an administrative faculty member was hired on state funds, if they were switched, they were most often given a contract with a thirty day dismissal provision.   

  • 06 Mar 2015 7:44 PM | Deleted user

    Good morning. My name is David Steel, Executive Director of the Nevada Faculty Alliance. I am here to express the NFA’s opposition to the campus carry bill AB 148.

    Campus is a relatively safe place. For example, in 2013 the number of aggravated assaults on campus at UNR was 0, as compared to 338.4 per 100,000 population off-campus in Reno. Statistics for murder, forcible rape, and robbery are similarly disparate.

    The argument may be that, no matter how good the campus safety situation is, campus carry could improve it. However, the statistics for states that have campus carry show that it does not. In Utah in 2003, there were 8.8 forcible rapes on campus per 100,000 students. In 2004 campus carry was introduced and in the following decade the average forcible rapes per 100,000 students has been 11.3. The result is similar for other types of crimes, and the same pattern holds for other campus carry states. So there is no evidence that campus carry improves safety.

    The United States grants rights to gun owners, but these in and of themselves do not justify campus carry. Take for example the University of Virginia's position adopted October 1824 that “No student shall, within the precincts of the University... keep or use weapons or arms of any kind, or gunpowder.” That decision is notable because among those on the Board that took it were Thomas Jefferson, the second President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and James Madison, the fourth President, known as “the father of the Bill of Rights.” These founding fathers clearly did not believe this restriction to violate the rights they institutionalized.

    We also believe that AB148 is likely to have unintended financial consequences for higher education and local law and medical agencies in terms of personnel, equipment, and the oversight of implementing and accounting for the bill. Where would this additional funding come from as we are just beginning to restore funding to state agencies?

    It is for these reasons that the NFA is strongly opposed to AB 148.

    Thank you.

  • 25 Feb 2015 6:28 PM | Deleted user

    by Angela Brommel, NFA President

    Today is National Adjunct Walkout Day in solidarity of part time faculty all across the nation.  The NFA didn't organize a walk out, but we have been walking the halls to hear the stories of members and future members. Since David Steel joined us as Executive Director we have added 60 new members -- and new members keep signing up. David also hired a part time faculty member in the north as an organizer to help reach our colleagues on all tracks. At the January State Board meeting we also voted to hire another organizer in the south. We also have one more open position for an organizer in the north. The state board also has a seat for part time faculty representatives. Our current faculty leader in that seat is Art Lynch.  A huge thank you to our organizers, state and chapter leaders for fighting the good fight for all of us.  Solidarity!

  • 25 Feb 2015 5:57 PM | Deleted user

    Guns on campus? 

    by John W. Farley, President UNLV chapter of NFA and Tim Bungum, Professor, UNLV Dept of Health Promotion

    A number of bills have been drafted or proposed in Carson City that might result in more guns on campus.  Current Nevada law allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring a gun onto an NSHE campus only if the gun owner has the explicit permission of the college or university president. In practice, the president delegates that decision to the campus chief of police.  The UNLV chief of police explained to a meeting of the UNLV Faculty Senate that  if an incident occurs, the campus police chief wants his officers to be the only armed force on the scene.  The task of the university police would be hindered, not helped, by the presence of other armed individuals. In real life, as opposed to the movies, it is not always easy to distinguish immediately a good guy from a bad guy. 

    While NFA has not developed a position on every proposed bill, in the past NFA has strongly supported the existing law, and strongly opposed changing the law to make it easier to bring a gun on campus.  In the last legislature, NFA, the NSHE presidents, and the Chancellor and the Board of Regents were all in agreement on this issue.

    A useful perspective that has too often been absent from the debate is the public health perspective, aimed at harm reduction. David Hemenway is a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he directs the Injury Control Research Center. His research on gun violence was reported in his 2006 book, Private Guns, Public Health. Hemenway seeks pragmatic solutions that reduce the number of gun deaths, rather than assigning blame. His is a public health perspective, not a crime perspective. Hemenway found that  homicides are frequently impulsive acts, in which the convenience and ready availability of guns allows a confrontation that otherwise would result in a black eye or broken tooth to results instead in a tragedy.

    The Hemenway book has a chapter on guns in school, including the following important points:

    1. Our schools are safe, but not as safe as schools in other similar countries.

    2. 30-35 students are killed by guns in a typical school years (at school).

    3. All school killings involved guns (in one study).

    4. About 6000 kids a year are expelled for bringing guns to school.

    5. Kids who bring guns to school are more apt to smoke, receive poor grades and have guns in the home.

    6. All kids who killed at school had easy access to guns.

    7. College males who own a gun are more apt to engage in reckless behavior involving alcohol, drive while intoxicated, distrust the police, damage property and sustain an alcohol-related injury.

    8. In places with more guns, more students report being victims of gun threats than in other places.

    9. Surveys show that most people believe that they will be less safe if more people have guns.

    10. Most states that made carrying laws more permissive showed slight increases in homicides.

    A summary of the entire Hemenway book includes three documented findings:

    1. Arming citizens appears to increase rather than decrease lethal violence.

    2. Permissive gun laws appear to be detrimental to the health of the public. 

    3. More than 90% of adults in one survey expressed the desire to outlaw guns on campus.

  • 24 Feb 2015 7:16 PM | Deleted user

    Courtesy of the UNLV NFA Chapter:

    Top Reasons to Join the Nevada Faculty Alliance

    • The NFA protects the rights of faculty and professional staff to have free and

    open investigation, speech and thought.

    • The NFA advocates for those rights to the administration.

    • The NFA provides an effective voice for faculty and higher education in the

    Nevada Legislature.

    • The NFA is an advocate and watchdog for decent faculty salary and benefits.

    • The NFA provides legal advice for members and non-members when faculty

    rights are in question. The NFA provides legal services to members whose rights

    have been violated.

    • The NFA was involved in the original establishment of the NSHE merit pool, and

    continues to advocate for competitive salaries for faculty.

    • The NFA is the Nevada affiliate of the American Association of University

    Professors, the longest existing national organization for advocacy of faculty.

    • The NFA has great people in the organization who uniformly feel that the

    university is critically important to a functioning society.

    • NFA members receive the AAUP ACADEME and the NFA Alliance that keeps

    members up to date on national and state trends in faculty employment issues.

    • The more members we have, the more power we have. Join us!

  • 08 Dec 2014 4:26 PM | Deleted user

    Nevada professor and NFA member, Joel Thomas Tierno has an article in the most recent edition of Academe that refutes claims that students are customers. Professor Tierno teaches at CSN.

    "Tierno debunks the metaphor that colleges are businesses and students are customers." -- UNLV-NFA President John Farley

    "Special shout out to CSN faculty and NFA member Joel Tierno whose Academe article on the topic of 'Students are not our customers and Schools are not businesses' shreds that lame analogy once and for all." -- CSN-NFA President Rob Manis

    You can read the article here: 

  • 20 Nov 2014 3:55 PM | Deleted user

    by Rob Manis, CSN-NFA Chapter President

    The CSN Chapter of NFA is going through a period of growth and increased assertiveness. Over the last 14 months nearly 50 new members have signed up, reversing several years of attrition and neglect. Outgoing chapter president Adrian Havas did a fine job of raising morale and turning the organization around. During the last year and half we have conducted three major surveys that have helped us with that turn around by clarifying what members want.

    The first, conducted in May of 2013 of NFA members found a high level of disillusionment with NSHE, the Admin and NFA itself. The clear message was that faculty did not feel anyone was standing up for them enough, and they wanted NFA to take a stronger role in advocating for them. The follow-up survey in February 2014 found a much improved view of the new direction of NFA, where an amazing 90% of members said CSN-NFA was on the “right track”.

    We followed that up with a survey of all faculty (members and non-members alike) in June of this year. Over 200 people responded. The responses were interesting:

    The old CSN faculty evaluation system was preferred to the new one passed by Faculty Senate last year by 37%-25%

    Faculty rated the three top CSN administrators as only satisfactory (modal category). A plurality distrusted CSN administrative hiring 45-28%, and an audit of CSN finances was favored by a huge 77-6%.

    Additionally opinion was negative toward both NSHE and PEBP, while the most popular choice to fix PEBP was the state NFA proposal to expand PEBP board to include 5 employee members.

    NFA is seen by all faculty as ‘about right’ by 48%, but many more see it as too weak rather than too militant by 38%-14% . Faculty say they support collective bargaining by a surprisingly large margin. 51-17%.

    My goal as the new chapter President is to gain another 50+ members over the next year and to explore possible paths to collective bargaining, a major task in an institution of over 500 faculty.

  • 13 Nov 2014 10:38 AM | Deleted user

    by David Steel, NFA Executive Director

    NFA members have been active both before and after the November election, meeting with candidates and discussing NFA's political priorities.

    Top priorities of NFA include access to quality affordable healthcare, ensuring that furloughs are lifted, and opposing any plan that irresponsibly outsources distance education. NFA promotes quality higher education in Nevada, and we see faculty working conditions as inextricably linked to that goal, as they are students' learning conditions.

    From L to R: NFA Director David Steel, CSN-NFA President Rob Manis, CSN-NFA officer Andrea Brown, and assemblyperson Nelson Araujo

    CSN-NFA President Rob Manis and Assemblyperson Melissa Woodbury

Contact Us:

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