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Survey task force leader: NSHE compensation likely far below peers 

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After hiatus from study, system to compare pay, benefits to other states

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Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich has asked a task force to compare NSHE employees’ compensation with compensation at comparable institutions.

The head of the task force said that he suspects that NSHE compensation rates are well below those of comparable institutions nationally.

The board of regents requires a compensation comparison every four years, but the last review cycle passed without a study because cuts to state spending on NSHE prevented the possibility of salary increases.

The study could result in the task force suggesting salary levels for NSHE employees at the 2013 Nevada Legislature.

Former vice chancellor of Administrative and Legal Affairs Bart Patterson, who is also interim president at Nevada State College, is responsible for moving the task force forward.

Patterson said that the task force will use Oklahoma State University’s faculty salary survey and a survey published by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) as well as other sources to conduct its comparative study.

He added that the task force will also conduct its own research by looking at the compensation rates of universities and colleges that are similar in size and stature to NSHE institutions.

Patterson said that, based on studies he has read and on recent reductions in state employees’ health benefits, he believes the task force will find that compensation rates fall below the levels of comparable institutions.

UNLV’s average compensation rating ranks in the third quintile for both professors and associate professors, according to the American Association of University Professors’ 2010-2011 Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession.

This means that the compensation rates for these faculty members are about average when compared to other institutions in the U.S.

By comparison, the compensation rates for UNLV’s assistant professors are ranked in the fourth-quintile, meaning they fall below average as compared to other institutions in the U.S.

Members of the task force have not been selected, but UNLV has nominated economics professor Alan Schlotmann to serve on the committee.

Patterson said that he hopes the task force’s study will be completed in time for the September board of regents meeting, but that it would not result in any immediate changes in compensation for NSHE employees.

He said that the study is intended to inform salary levels for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2013.

UNLV Faculty Senate chair Gregory Brown said that by conducting the study, the task force will be prepared to present Gov. Brian Sandoval and the 2013 state Legislature with facts about how to hire and retain faculty at NSHE institutions.

“We think the budget request should prioritize the restoration of compensation and benefits,” Brown said.

In the past five years, NSHE employees have seen pay cuts and mandated furloughs as well as the suspension of merit pay and cost of living increases.

Additionally, cuts to the state’s health care plans have resulted in increases in premiums and deductibles across the board.

Brown has charged UNLV’s fiscal affairs committee with the responsibility of assisting the task force in understanding the compensation at the university. The committee will conduct a survey intended to gauge the priorities of UNLV’s faculty in relation to restoring competitive compensation.

The first meeting of the task force is scheduled for February.

Klaich was contacted for this story. He referred Patterson to The Rebel Yell.

Julie Ann Formoso reports on faculty and staff issues for The Rebel Yell. Contact her at [email protected]

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