Nevada Faculty Alliance

NFA News Archive

  • 19 Aug 2012 5:12 PM | ADRIAN HAVAS (Administrator)
    This summer, there have been some developments concerning possible – and fairly dramatic – changes to the Community College Salary Schedule.

    Last spring Chancellor Klaich formed a system-wide committee to review our salary structure. This review is required by Nevada System of Higher Education code and was delayed a year given our frozen schedules. This panel consists of a representative from every institution in the system; we are represented by Professor Carolyn Collins and John Scarborough of Human Resources. At the end of spring semester, Carolyn presented a report of the committee's task to the College of Southern Nevada Faculty Senate.

    In the last few days, I have been in touch with the Faculty Senate Chair Chuck Milne, who tells me that this committee's work has been fast-tracked, and that the regents want a final report by their Sept. 6-7 meeting at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. He tells me that our current "step" system may soon be replaced by a combination merit/cost-of-living adjustment system, controlled by a college committee. 

    Carolyn has told me something different, that the September timing is for "agreeing on the percentage increase the salary schedule needs to be raised." A report on this may be ready by September and then sent to the regents at their December meeting. She added that, as to changes in the CC salary structure, there was no intent to have those done in September. She believes that this will probably take longer -- indeed, likely past December if there is to be any change.  

    So, the process is either moving fast or slightly slower, but big changes are likely in the works.

    I wanted to communicate the following points: 

    • Any move away from the step/range system has the potential to divide the ranks of CSN faculty and demoralize our professional colleagues – who have received no cost-of-living adjustments, or scheduled step raises since 2008-09. In fact, we are continuing with a 5-percent pay reduction, just signed contractually.

    • We strongly think all the community colleges should remain on the current step salary schedule.

    There is deep concern that any incorporation of merit pay into our existing salary structure will be subjectively manipulated by deans, chairs and/or other administrators to improve their bottom line financially. With the overtly political atmosphere known to exist at CSN, I believe this can and will happen. 

    NFA board member Scott Huber was blunt about this in a recent conversation I had with him:  "It will be a political disaster if we open up the merit in the colleges.  Unforeseen things will happen, and it's likely deans will determine 'merit.'"

    As for our own faculty senate chair, Milne told me that such changes should not be feared, that they would not negatively affect anyone doing a good, commendable or excellent job; the committee making the decisions would act in good faith and won't be influenced by the administration. Like Huber, I tend to disagree that this process will not be politicized.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Be advised that NFA stands ready to oppose any measures that will so negatively affect our members, and community college faculty generally. There is a meeting at convocation scheduled to discuss these measures, and I suggest you try to be there.  I would also urge you to send your concerns in writing to NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich as well as the individual regents.
  • 19 Aug 2012 4:22 PM | Deleted user
    Dear colleagues and readers,

    Later this month, I will assume administrative duties in the office of the Provost at UNLV, as Vice-Provost for Faculty, Policy and Institutional Research. In accordance with NFA state bylaws, I will become an associate member and step aside as board president. As of that date, Angela Brommel, our elected vice president, will become NFA state board president. Angela and I have been working on a transition plan that will make her NFA president effective upon my resignation and culminate in the regularly scheduled state board meeting on September 14th. Those aspects of UNLV-NFA and NFA communications that have been my endeavor, including this blog, will be turned over to other officers and to our communications committee.

    While logistically I will withdraw from the role of the president (and chair of the southern endorsement committee) at that time,  and step aside from the state board after more than five years of service, my interest in and commitment to faculty advocacy and the work of NFA -- as well as my personal commitment to all of you, especially those I have worked so closely with for the past few years -- will not cease.

    I remain available, at the request of NFA officers at the chapter or state board level, to provide any sort of guidance, information or support that I can provide to the board -- especially for the important period of the 2013 legislature, when we will be actively advocating for restoration of faculty compensation.

    (Naturally any discussion of legal defense issues, especially concerning UNLV, must take place outside of my knowledge to avoid any conflict of interest.)

    Upon the start of the university academic year, the NFA will communicate to its members and readers important developments over the summer in the governance of the organization and important steps the executive committee has taken to put the NFA on a sound financial and organizational footing, which has been our primary governance goal for several years. It is therefore a propitious moment for me to step aside, as well as a necessary one given my new position, which will still be one primarily of service to UNLV and NSHE faculty, but which of course is incompatible with a formal leadership role in the NFA.

    As I prepare to step aside, please allow me to close by thanking you -- colleagues, members, fellow officers, general readers, and especially those of you with whom I have worked closely for several years -- to express my heartfelt thanks, my respect and affection, and my continuing commitment to our shared values.

    In solidarity,

    Gregory Brown

    President, Nevada Faculty Alliance, 2011-2012
    Vice-President, Nevada Faculty Alliance, 2009-2011
    President, UNLV Faculty Alliance, 2009-2011
    Secretary, Nevada Faculty Alliance, 2007-2009
    Co-Chair, NFA PAC Endorsement Committee, 2006-2012
  • 01 Jul 2012 11:55 AM | Deleted user

    Although many faculty and students are away from campuses for the summer, the important work of the interim legislative Committee on the Funding of Higher Education is entering its most important phase.

    the most recent meeting of the full committee, on June 27, the committee heard the Nevada System of Higher Education’s final and apparently complete proposal for an alternative formula, including version 17 of the performance-based funding component developed by the System in conjunction with the National Governors’ Association. At the heart of this proposal remain two principles that have broad support in the System and, it appears, on the committee: student fees should not be a factor in formula calculations of state allocation, and only Nevada residential students should be considered in those calculations.

    First, revenues from students, whether residential fees or non-residential tuition, should no longer be considered, as they have been, part of the state allocation to any campus; consequently, the formula should not offset any campus’ state allocation as a function of student fee or tuition revenue. In other words, the new formula should allocate state general fund dollars based upon state priorities, and individual students should allocate their contributions based upon their choices of campus and program. Second, Nevada state funds should be allocated in support of Nevada residential students, not non-residential students, whose enrollment and tuition contributions would not be factors in the new formula at all.

    The NSHE proposal represents a significant departure from the old formula, notably in its reduction of the formula largely (though not entirely) to one variable's ability to determine the distribution of funds – completed student credit hours on each campus. Variables which played a significant role in the old formula, such as maintenance costs, faculty costs, library resources, and student services, all would give way to instruction.

    (Although a significant portion of the NSHE state allocation would remain outside the formula, including allocations to professional schools, statewide programs, and athletics. Prioritization of requests for capital (i.e., buildings) would remain an entirely separate budget process, not necessarily based on an instructional formula)

    In the NSHE proposal, each completed student credit hour would have a uniform value on each campus, calculated as the formula allocation divided by the total number of credit hours earned across the System. Actual allocations to each campus would result from a series of weights for different groups of disciplines, with lower-division, upper division and masters’ level and doctoral level courses having slightly different values within each discipline.

    The System’s representatives have been questioned by committee members about why the proposal would include “F” and “I” grades as completed courses. The System has argued that community college students are more likely to receive F grades and may need additional support from the institution, whereas, it has argued, university students are more likely to complete courses with passing grades. This has led to some discussion among committee members as to whether the community colleges should receive an enhanced weight for certain categories of lower-division courses, such as remedial courses. This could be achieved by modifying the System’s proposal into separate scales for lower-division courses at the universities, the state college and community colleges, a common practice in other states

    The performance-based portion of the proposed new formula does use separate scales for the colleges and universities, which are divided into distinct “performance pools” based upon the mission of each tier in the System. (Thus, DRI and NSC each constitute a separate pool, based on their respectively separate and distinct missions). Within these pools, each institution would be awarded points based on mission-specific variables, such as degrees or certificates awarded (or in the case of community colleges, students who transfer out with at least one years’ worth of credits). Some graduates or transfers would be weighted more heavily, such as those eligible for federal Pell Grants (an indicator of low-income), degrees in areas that have been designated as central to the state’s economic development strategy, and (for the universities) the amount of sponsored research expenditures. Each variable in each pool in the proposal has been assigned a weight, based upon the perceived significance of that variable to the mission of institutions in that pool. In the end, each institution, based upon the percentage of points it would earn in its respective pool, would claim a proportional share of the funds in that pool.

    The System proposal has left up to the governor and the legislature, in the budgeting process, to determine if the performance pool would be funded with a share of the state’s general fund allocation to NSHE (a “carve out”) or from a separate, enhancement allocation (a “set aside.”) Until that decision is made, it is impossible to know how the new formula would allocate a given level of state appropriation. Earlier simulations were run on only the base formula proposal.

    Also on the 27th, the Committee heard
    the fourth and final part of the report of its consultant, SRI International. This report, as stipulated in the consultant’s contract, describes how other states handle such as issues as student-derived revenues (i.e., tuition and fees), “course completers,” “performance-based funding,”  and allocation of state support. SRI’s report did not propose any specific values for how the formula ought to distribute state money; it instead recommended a vision for what the state ought to try to achieve with its formula for higher education funding.

    The written consultant’s report, which remains a draft subject to revision based upon feedback from the committee, was accompanied by an oral presentation. Key points included the following:

    1.    An endorsement to the System’s proposal that the formula allocations be kept separate from student tuition and fees, as consistent with national best practices.

    2.    A recommendation that Nevada dedicate sources of revenue other than the state general fund allocations to provide a stable and adequate basis of higher education funding in the long term – specifically:

    o       local and regional support for community colleges to enhance state support, and

    o       dedicated statewide revenue for the Knowledge Fund to support the research universities, DRI and Great Basin College.

    3.    A recommendation that state support be allocated entirely based upon instruction and degree completion, with no other variables such as the cost of operating space or sponsored research expenditures being used to determine state general fund allocation. (The consultant noted in the oral presentation that the “research factor” in the NSHE proposal – a 10% weight applied to upper division and graduate credit hours earned at the universities – risked creating confusion about its purpose. SRI suggested instead that upper-division and graduate credits at the universities simply be weighted more heavily, so that the formula proposal would more transparently highlight its focus on instruction.)

    4.    A recommendation that the formula be constructed to allocate additional resources to support the high number of students who take remedial courses at community colleges. Moreover, the consultant recommended that local oversight boards could help the community colleges more closely align to regional workforce needs for “mid-level skills.”

    5.    A recommendation that two-year colleges, as well as Nevada State College, be more directly focused on fulfilling the System’s access mission and that the formula create an incentive for a larger share of first-year instruction to be at those institutions. Students at two year colleges intending to continue towards a four-year degree would be steered towards honors courses at the college level. The consultant also recommended testing of learning outcomes at the two-year colleges to guide those institutions in better preparing students seeking a four-year degree for upper-division courses at a four-year institution.

    6.    A recommendation that the universities become "more selective” and the formula create an incentive to offer only those entry-level courses that could not be offered at an access institution (i.e., a community college or the state college). Accordingly, the consultant recommended, the formula should weight student credit hours in upper division and graduate courses at the universities more heavily to create an incentive for those institutions to focus on that mission.

    7.    A recommendation that the formula more closely align all tiers of the System with the state economic development plan; for instance, by enhancing the weights for student credits and degrees earned in disciplines that directly support the 7 designated sectors in the Economic Development plan.

    8.    A recommendation that the performance-based or outcome-based portion of the formula be used to allocate no less than 25 percent of state general fund support in the short term, and over a period of several years, that share grow to up to 100 percent. The consultant also recommended against any “hold harmless” funding, so that the incentive to the institutions – and the message to the state -- would be clear and transparent. In the oral presentation, the consultant noted that much of the national literature on performance funding in higher education does not consider student credit hours as outputs but rather inputs, and he suggested that a truly outcome-based formula would be concerned only with completed certificates, degrees and transfers. (This approach has been implemented fully only in Tennessee, which converted its formula to an entirely “outcome-based” approach in 2010.)

    In the next few weeks, three subcommittees of the main committee will meet to prepare recommendations for the final committee meeting, scheduled Aug. 29, when a final report will be prepared. The three sub-committees, which have begun to meet and will each meet again at least twice, are charged to consider, respectively: 1. performance pool, economic and workforce development and research; 2. community college funding; and 3. the NSHE proposal and SRI report for a new funding formula.
  • 30 Jun 2012 8:47 AM | Anonymous
    The College of Southern Nevada chapter of the NFA recently elected a new slate of officers, who begin their terms June 1. The new executives are as follows:
    • President: Adrian Havas
    • First vice president: Geoffrey Frasz
    • Second vice president: Vasile Munteanu
    • Treasurer: Patrick Villa
    • Secretary: Diana Clennan
    The position of third vice president remains unfilled. The executive board may fill it in coming months, according to Havas, an English professor at the college.

    "I'm looking forward to the next two years," Havas said. "Clearly, our chapter is in a rebuilding mode. But I'm confident with the additional resources available to us from our updated arrangement with AAUP and support from the state board we will be able to achieve big things."

    "I would add that none of those things will happen unless more of our own membership steps up, gets more involved, and demonstrates real unity and courage moving forward."

  • 19 Jun 2012 12:18 PM | Anonymous
    It's official: the NFA has a new dues arrangement with the American Association of University Professors. Current NFA members' dues will not change, but a greater portion of them will now be spent supporting member services in the state.

    On June 14th, the Assembly of State Conferences, governing body of the AAUP, voted unanimously to accept the NFA's proposal to restructure its dues obligations to the national organization. It was one of two pilot programs that the assembly approved during the AAUP's annual conference on the state of higher education, held in Washington, D.C.

    This meeting also marked the last annual meeting for Candance Kant, Emeritus CSN faculty member and a former NFA president, who reached her term limit as member of the assembly. The NFA commends Kant for her service to the national organization and her leadership in representing the Nevada proposal to the Assembly.
    Members may recall that the NFA State Board voted in January 2011 to withhold members' dues in order to ensure that more member contributions would be devoted to services in Nevada. The board crafted the proposal in response to the AAUP's imposing a new dues policy that would have raised NFA dues considerably.

    The proposal that the state board initially approved would have allowed the NFA to reinvest dollars previously sent to the national office at the campus and state level instead. Over the past 18 months, during the negotiations with the AAUP, the NFA sequestered the portion of members' dues that would ordinarily be due to the AAUP, to be paid upon agreement of an accord. Part of the agreement is that these sequestered dues will be repaid over a 5-year period, so there has been and will be no lapse in AAUP membership for our members.

    During the negotiation period, the NFA State Board also redirected funds in its operating budget to cut unnecessary travel and staff expenses, and revitalized the membership website, establishing an integrated communications system that links the website, The Alliance newspaper and social networking through a single content management system.
    In the Spring 2012 issue of The Alliance, NFA Past President Scott Huber informed members that the new dues structure would allow the NFA to continue to professionalize its work as many other advocacy groups have done, both in this state and nationally. Current President Greg Brown set forth an NFA Action Plan, published in the February 2011 issue of The Alliance.
    AAUP's national leadership met in March of 2012 with Huber and Kant, and agreed to the NFA proposal that was approved by the NFA state board and signed by Brown in May.

  • 19 Jun 2012 9:40 AM | Deleted user
    The Las Vegas Sun writes up some of the funny math in a so-called "study" of state retirement costs, but fails to mention the most embarrassing howler in this out-of-state group's under-researched blog post: that since 1970, higher education faculty do not participate in the Public Employees' Retirement System of Nevada, or PERS (except those who were enrolled in it prior to their employment in the Nevada System of Higher Education).

    The "report" lists 200 faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who will supposedly be paid a total of several hundred million dollars over the next 30 years. In fact, more than 93 percent of faculty (including non-instructional academic faculty) at the two universities (and nearly 90 percent of faculty across NSHE) are in precisely the sort of 401-K style, defined-contribution plan that the sponsors of the "study" recommend because it carries zero liability for the state after retirement.

    This is why the Nevada News Bureau covered the NSHE retirement plan as a "model pension" program more than a year ago.

    Those interested in some actual, empirically sound comparisons can turn to data from the 2011-2012 American Association of University Professors report on faculty compensation and benefits.

    It states that, on average nationally, retirement benefits cost public 4-year universities $10,252 per faculty member. This amounts to 10.8 percent of total compensation. And most universities also pay into social security, which on average costs the institution another $5,383 per faculty member and another 6.2 percent of total compensation. Nevada state employees, including NSHE faculty, are not enrolled in social security, so the state does not bear this cost at all, nor are these benefits available to most NSHE faculty -- even though the authors of this "libertarian" study actually recommend social security enrollment as a way to cut costs for states and local governments!

    (See Tables 10A and 10B for national averages of higher ed retirement programs.)
  • 18 Jun 2012 9:45 AM | Deleted user
    Collective bargaining has passed a faculty vote at Western Nevada College. The 51 eligible WNC faculty voted 28-15 in favor of joining the NSHE Collective Bargaining unit, with eight ballots not returned. These results were certified by the American Arbitration Association on May 23.The voting was conducted via mail from May 7 to May 20, with two on-campus voting days on May 9 and 10.

    The percentages of yes votes were 54.9 percent of eligible voters, 65.1 percent of those who voted. A simple majority of eligible voters (26) was required to vote yes in order to join the CB Unit.

    The key to victory was educating the faculty without being emotional and without slinging mud at the administration. The intent was to show that CB would allow us to establish true shared governance at WNC via a cooperative relationship with the administration. The goal was to engage as many faculty as possible in the discussion about how faculty could best effect positive change. I would like to thank all my colleagues – both those pro and those con – for engaging in the process in a most professional and dignified manner.

    That relations between the faculty and WNC President Carol Lucey's administration need to more deeply embrace the tenets of shared governance is a widespread sentiment among WNC faculty. The question was whether collective bargaining would facilitate the change.

    "There were concerns about whether collective bargaining would be viewed as overly antagonistic by the administration or viewed negatively by the community," according to past Faculty Senate chair Jeff Downs. "Also there were concerns about WNC autonomy within the bargaining unit, since Truckee Meadows Community College has long been the sole member."

    In addition to a months-long email education campaign, the WNC chapter held two collective bargaining forums at the Carson City campus. NFA state board members Scott Huber and Robert Correales attended the forums, answering questions and clarifying the process. In this sense, it was a statewide effort. The support of the State Board was invaluable.

    Two weeks prior to the vote, a group of five faculty members – acting independently of the Faculty Senate and the NFA chapter – met with President Lucey to explore the possibility of developing a workable and less formal alternative to collective bargaining. The result was an offer by President Lucey to create a faculty advisory board to provide non-binding advice on faculty welfare issues directly to the president. The group of five presented this alternative to the faculty at the second forum prior to the vote. While it is something of a step in the right direction, the chapter pointed out that the Faculty Senate has been operating on an advisory basis for the entirety of the Lucey administration.

    The WNC community is now in a federally mandated 60-day cool off period. The real work has yet to begin. We will be preparing to engage the administration by consulting with the NFA state board and the AAUP national office. It is our hope that the negotiations will be cooperative so we can focus on improving WNC. Our students and constituents deserve this.

    NSHE has had collective bargaining since the early 1990s, with TMCC having been the only member of the collective bargaining unit until the recent vote by WNC faculty. The community college bargaining unit does not bargain for wages or benefits, but adheres to overall NSHE policies in those areas. Rather, it bargains for institutional working conditions such as workload, evaluation, hiring, retrenchment policies, placement on salary schedules and policies concerning stipends for additional responsibilities. Under collective bargaining, both administration and faculty are contractually obligated to the terms of the included policies.
  • 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.
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