Funding formula proposal includes successful ideas from other states
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Senate chair briefs regents on compensation resolution, student-faculty advocacy plan
Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents chancellor Dan Klaich presented a report on the progress of the Legislature’s interim Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education at a special meeting of the Board of Regents on Friday.
SRI International, an independent nonprofit research institute, has been consulting with the committee and will present a report detailing various funding practices that have been implemented successfully in other states for consideration for an alternate NSHE funding formula on May 7.
On June 8, SRI will give feedback on the alternate proposal that will be presented at the upcoming Board of Regents meeting on May 31 and June 1 in Reno.
Klaich said that SRI has been instrumental in the process of drafting the new proposal.
“[The] conversations have been extremely candid,” Klaich said. “We’re all working for the taxpayers of the state of Nevada to get the best possible solution for allocation of resources within the Nevada System of Higher Education.”
But regent Mark Alden said he doesn’t believe the funding formula will correct the higher education system, though “Klaich and the committee have made remarkable steps.”
“The formula will not solve our problems,” Alden said. “The problem is much bigger. The problem is we do not fund higher education in this state [adequately].”
Alden cited the unusual model for funding higher education in Nevada compared to other systems across the country.
“[Nevada] is the only state that doesn’t have local government funding for community colleges,” Alden said. “Community colleges are different because they have a multifaceted mission which affects their local community … there needs to be funding in those communities for those community colleges.”
Alden believes the Board of Regents is not suited for such a complex system of higher education.
“The Nevada System of Higher Education needs to be UNLV, UNR, Nevada State [College], and [the Desert Research Institute],” Alden said. “Community colleges need to have their own system but with an absolute relationship with [NSHE] as far as [transfer agreements go].”
“Community colleges need more than a 13-member board,” Alden said. “It’s just not going to work [otherwise]. These community colleges are the economic engine to recovery for this state and they need a lot of help, especially in the rural areas.”
Klaich acknowledged the problems associated with attempting to implement a new funding model in higher education.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Klaich said.
Alden said when states fund higher education, research, and free enterprise, they are successful.
“I think Governor Sandoval gets it,” Alden said, “but the Legislature needs to get it.”
UNLV Faculty Senate chair Gregory Brown briefed the board on a Faculty Senate resolution that calls for restoration of faculty and staff compensation to pre-cut levels.
He explained that the resolution asks that pay and benefits be given back to employees through the same source from which they were cut, by adding state money directly to campus base budgets — not by using funds that deal with student dollars.
“This would not only be consistent with the practice of other states that have implemented funding formulas based on student outcomes,” Brown said, “but would send an important message to students, assuring them that any restoration of competitive compensation would be based upon additional state allocation, not based — as the Board made clear at its December and January meetings — on student fee increments.”
Brown also said that he and his Faculty Senate chair-elect Susan Sumpter plan to charge the chairs of the senate’s Admissions and Academic Standards committees to work with a group of undergraduate and graduate students to advocate for access and affordability in the coming academic year.
“Assuring quality education through recruitment and retention of the best faculty must be paired with a commitment to access and affordability for students,” he said. “… Affordability is a complex issue involving a range of public policy questions and we hope this group will help provide an informed, credible and effective voice for UNLV’s and NSHE’s continuing efforts on this point.”
Fantasi Pridgon reports on health care issues for The Rebel Yell. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.