December 5, 2023


Student support secures 11% COLA for faculty in 2024-25

Nearly 140 individuals submitted written statements and dozens more spoke during the Public Comment period in support of a proposal to give NSHE professionals an 11% COLA adjustment in Fiscal Year 2025, but it was the unexpected display of support from student leaders that sealed the deal at the December 1 Board of Regents meeting. In the end Regents voted unanimously for the full adjustment, but with a delayed start of October 1, 2024.

Prior to the statements by students, several Regents appeared hesitant to implement a 5% increase in registration fees and tuition designed to help offset a shortfall caused by a Legislative decision to reduce NSHE's COLA reimbursement rate from 80% to 66%. Despite voting for the measure, many of them voiced concerns and suggested that NSHE institutions share plans for dealing with the increased expense.

NFA officers have advocated for the 11% increase for months. The final outcome is a plan with shared sacrifice across the board. While students will absorb higher fees, faculty will not receive the raise for the first quarter of the fiscal year and forego merit raises next year to reduce costs for the institutions. It will also be necessary for campus administrators to reallocate money from things like vacancy savings, and special projects.

The sustained and coordinated effort by NFA undoubtedly contributed to the unanimous vote by the Board. The campaign not only involved advocacy on behalf of faculty to the Regents and NSHE administrators, but also regular communication to keep faculty members informed and engaged.

Read more: NFA Helps Secure 11% Cost-of-Living Adjustment for FY2025


NFA stands with Faculty Senate leaders on Shared Values statement

Last month, the NSHE Council of Faculty Senate Chairs issued the Statement Affirming Shared Values. Reinforcing the importance of free and open dialog in a higher education environment, the statement advocates for free speech, calls for the respectful exchange of ideas, acknowledges our responsibility to provide a safe environment for all students, and recognizes the critical role faculty play in the nuanced dialogue about complex global issues.

The State Board of the Nevada Faculty Alliance commends the Senate Chairs for issuing the statement and we echo their call for NSHE leadership to protect these long-held fundamental rights. It is everyone's responsibility to safeguard the freedom of all faculty and students to learn and openly engage in meaningful dialogue on our campuses in a secure and respectful environment that is free from intimidation, retaliation, or doxxing. 

NFA urges the Nevada Board of Regents and NSHE leaders to do everything necessary to ensure that members of our campus communities, regardless of background, enjoy equal protections especially during periods of heightened global unrest, conflict, and political uncertainty.


National publication highlights UNR Title IX controversy

The Chronicle of Higher Education, the bellwether for college educators in the United States, has published an article about a long-simmering Title IX dispute at UNR.

Feifei Fan, an NFA member and tenured associate professor, filed a Title IX complaint with the University in 2021, which is just now being heard. She alleges that she was sexually abused as a UNR student by her master's thesis adviser, Yanyao Jiang, who is now her colleague. Jiang filed a counter-complaint. Fan also has lawsuits pending against UNR and Jiang.

The Nevada Faculty Alliance has repeatedly called on UNR and the Nevada System of Higher Education to reform a broken Title IX system that regularly fails to adequately and fairly resolve disputes; first with a letter to UNR President Brian Sandoval in December 2022, followed by a letter to the Nevada Board of Regents and Chancellor in October of this year. The Chronicle article draws national attention to the need for substantial Title IX reforms in Nevada's colleges and universities. 


Presidential vacancies expose erosion of shared governance in NSHE policies

Over the course of the last two years, all four community college presidents in the Nevada System of Higher Education have announced their intentions to leave their positions; three of them in the current year. WNC President Vincent Solis resigned in December 2021, and then last summer GBC President Joyce Helens and CSN President Federico Zaragoza announced their planned departures for the end of June 2024, while TMCC President Karin Hilgersom told Regents she would retire at the end of June 2025. 

GBC President Joyce Helens, CSN President Federico Zaragoza, TMCC President Karin Hilgersom

GBC President Joyce Helens, CSN President Federico Zaragoza, and TMCC President Karin Hilgersom

Despite having more than a year's advance warning, the Board of Regents did not initiate national searches to replace Helens and Zaragoza. They moved instead to appoint interim presidents who may subsequently be appointed to the permanent positions without a search. The GBC appointment occurred at the Board of Regents meeting on November 30th, while the CSN appointment is expected at a special meeting on December 12.

While the two nominees for the appointments were widely praised by their respective colleagues and constituents, the action by the Regents raised red flags for faculty who expect a national search for campus executives. It turns out, however, that a decade's worth of seemingly minor policy changes have enabled a process that allows the Board to sideline shared governance in the selection process and make unilateral appointments. 

Read: Small policy changes over time dramatically erode shared governance 


Members approve changes to NFA Bylaws

Amendments to the NFA Bylaws were approved by overwhelming margins of the voting members last month. The amendments address our new affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers through the American Association of University Professors and clarify other processes. Other changes address the nominating process for state officers, appointing acting officers for inactive chapters, and clarifies procedures for collective bargaining chapters to approve a contract extension through a memorandum of understanding.

The amendments with explanations are available for your review and are effective immediately.


Professional salary schedules adjusted 10% under revised policy

Policy revisions that were adopted by the Board of Regents in September resulted in the Board voting to increase all NSHE salary schedules by 10% during their quarterly meeting on December 1. 

The policy, which requires periodic salary schedule updates to reflect changes in market conditions, was modified to allow cost-of-living adjustments as a contributing factor for these updates. It also clarified procedures for employees who fall below the minimum salary level after a schedule has been adjusted. Although the updated schedules will not affect many existing employees, the increase will help to make starting salaries more competitive.

Long-term disability benefits to be restored starting January 1

More than two years of persistent advocacy by NFA will will pay off next month when Long-Term Disability (LTD) Insurance for NSHE employees is reinstated. The State eliminated coverage in the 2020 wave of pandemic-related budget cuts, but NSHE and campus business officers crafted a replacement plan that was approved by Regents last September.

The plan, for faculty employed with a 50% FTE or higher contract, will pay a portion of their monthly salary in the event of a covered illness or injury that prevents them from working for an extended period. Eligible employees will be automatically enrolled.

2023-25 NFA State Officers

Jim New - President

Shantal Marshall - Vice President

Joey Ray - Secretary

Cheryl Cardoza - Treasurer

Kent Ervin - Past President

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The Nevada Faculty Alliance is the statewide independent association of professional employees of the colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The NFA is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO.  The NFA advocates for higher education as a common good, academic freedom, and empowering our faculty members to be fully engaged in our mission to help students succeed.