Chancellor predicts hard work ahead in formula talks
Klaich: Authors of funding revision proposal still want lawmakers to hear student voices
Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich told students on Friday that it is up to system leaders to work out a plan for reforming the way the state funds its colleges and universities.
At a meeting of the Nevada Student Alliance, Klaich said that he expects debate over the right funding formula design to reach all the way to the the 2013 legislative session, but that the result will be a better model for schools.
The board of regents is backing a proposal that Klaich presented to the funding committee in January and that has been amended since with input from NSHE stakeholders, including students, faculty and administration.
“Until I see something better, I’m going forward with [my plan], which I think is fair,” Klaich said.
The NSHE proposal suggests that colleges and universities be allowed to retain the student tuition and fees they generate and that additional dollars be awarded to supplement the costs associated with schools’ instruction and services.
The model is based on a “weighted credit hour,” a measure of the estimated cost of offering a given course, and includes special funding provisions based on institutions’ success at matriculating students to higher-level courses and awarding degrees and certificates. It would also allot more money to UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno to support research.
Students involved in the conversation about funding formula reform have backed the principle that schools should keep the money they generate in student fees, especially at UNLV, where they have called for increased focus on research and financial accessibility.
Groups including the UNLV Faculty Senate have expressed concern about the potential for linking some funding to student performance to incentivize artificial grade inflation.
At the NSA meeting, UNLV Graduate and Professional Student Association president Michael Gordon asked Klaich whether he welcomes student criticism.
“If we react to the formula, will it hurt your proposal?” Gordon asked Klaich.
Klaich responded, “No,” and urged NSA members to continue voicing their ideas.
“It’s the same beating that I’ve been taking from the presidents for three weeks,” he said. “I get it.”
Klaich said that he has been meeting weekly with the presidents of the seven schools that are affected by the formula. He said that he will maintain those efforts even though the funding committee has hired a consultant, SRI International, to investigate and make recommendations on the extant formula and the NSHE plan.
“I don’t think my job, the [NSHE] staff’s job or the presidents’ job changed one bit [since the committee hired SRI],” Klaich said.
Board of regents chair Jason Geddes said that he does not expect SRI to recommend a third option besides reforming the existing formula and switching to a plan like Klaich’s.
“There won’t be a new [proposal],” Geddes said. “It’ll be either the old one or validating [the NSHE] one.”
Klaich predicted that the NSHE stakeholders will back the eventual conclusions of the funding committee and that business leaders will “stand beside students” when the model is presented to the Legislature next year.
“We have the opportunity in what could be a really contentious session to be a really galvanizing force,” he said.
Klaich predicted that whatever proposal the committee brings to Carson City in 2013 will be criticized and refined by the 57 legislators who do not serve on the funding committee, but he expressed confidence that what will result will be a step up for NSHE.
“We’ll put a model on the table that the committee will beat up and change and make better,” he said, “and it will go to the Legislature and we’ll spend a boatload of time and get this thing out.”
Part of negotiations, Klaich forecasted, will include talks with county and local governments to determine how they may help fund community colleges.
Klaich said that whatever the funding formula discussions show is the best way to change state funding for colleges and universities. He hopes students will lend their voices to the effort of getting a new plan through the Legislature.
“I expect all of you to sell it passionately,” he said.
Haley Etchison reports on the Nevada System of Higher Education and the Nevada Legislature for The Rebel Yell. Contact her at