Posts Tagged ‘Nevada System of Higher Education’

Nevada’s Higher Education System Gets Failing Grade For Student Access, Success In National Report

By Sean Whaley | 3:43 pm June 22nd, 2012

CARSON CITYNevada is one of four states to receive an “F” grade for student access and success in its higher education system from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a report released this week.

The third edition of its Leaders & Laggards series, “A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education,” was released Tuesday. The report examines public colleges and universities in all 50 states, including four-year and two-year institutions, and is designed to provide an in-depth evaluation of data and a careful analysis of postsecondary performance and policy across states.

Courtesy of the Nevada State Treasurer's Office.

“With tuition growing, debt loads increasing, students questioning the marketplace value of their degrees, and large amounts of taxpayer dollars invested, the business community and the public are starting to ask questions of policymakers and higher education leaders,” said Margaret Spellings, president of ICW and a former U.S. Education Secretary. “This report begins to look at how states are doing in preparing students for jobs after college and the value state taxpayers are getting in meeting the demands of local economies and employers.”

The chamber is urging policy makers, the business community, and educators to craft a reform agenda that promotes transparency to the public, demands better data on performance and improved measurement of student outcomes.

For the first time, the report grades postsecondary institutions in the following six areas:

  • Student access and success
  • Efficiency and cost-effectiveness
  • Meeting labor market demand
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Policy environment
  • Innovation

The Nevada System of Higher Education received an F grade for “student access and success” at both its four-year and two-year institutions.

Of the failing grades for student access and success in Nevada, the report said: “The four-year institutions rank in the bottom 10 states in terms of completion rate and the percentage of undergraduates receiving Pell Grants. The two-year institutions, despite having a retention rate in the top 10 states, ranked near the bottom on completion rates, credentials produced per 100 full-time equivalent undergraduates, and the percentage of Pell recipients.”

Nevada higher education officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

Nevada’s three four-year institutions mustered a C grade for efficiency and cost effectiveness, and D grades in the categories of meeting labor market demand and transparency and accountability.

Its four two-year colleges received a C grade for meeting labor market demand, and D grades for efficiency and cost effectiveness and transparency and accountability.

Nevada’s higher education system as a whole received a C grade for its policy environment, a D grade for innovation: openness to providers, and an F grade for innovation: online learning.

“I think the results help illuminate that some state systems are doing a far better job of graduating students with the dollars they’re spending, and that too few states are providing students, families, and taxpayers with the information they need to make good choices or hold higher education institutions accountable,” said Rick Hess, director of Education Policy Studies for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which conducted research for the report. “With tuition rising at three times the rate of inflation, we want to work with the business community to ensure that students who invest in their education learn the knowledge and skills necessary to enter an increasingly competitive global workforce.”


Study Of Nevada Higher Education Funding Formula Gets Under Way

By Sean Whaley | 4:05 pm November 29th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers, educators and state officials charged with analyzing the funding formula used to support Nevada’s higher education system met for the first time today and finalized a request for proposals for a consultant to help in the review.

The 12 voting members of the Committee to Study the Funding of Higher Education have $150,000 to spend on a consultant to assist it in reviewing how the state allocates tax revenue to the eight institutions in the system, including the state’s two universities and four community colleges. The interim study was approved by the 2011 Legislature.

UNLV students. / Courtesy UNLV Photo Services.

Six lawmakers, three appointees by Gov. Brian Sandoval and three appointees by the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education make up the voting members of the study committee. Another four governor appointees are non-voting members.

“I think when you look at the committee sometimes you think that this is a process that is about the system,” said Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “But in truth this is a process that is about providing access and opportunity to the students who want to pursue a higher education in the state of Nevada.”

There are those who believe there are inequities in the higher education funding formula, he said. The panel needs to protect the state’s existing institutions while at the same time, “allowing for the growth, expansion and entrepreneurial nature that we want to see out of our institutions on behalf of our students,” Horsford said.

The funding review also needs to keep in mind the new economic development strategy discussions under way in the state with the recent release of a report from the Brookings Institution and SRI International, he said. Higher education figures prominently in the diversification efforts, Horsford said.

UNLV student government representative Ricardo Cornejo told the panel the need to review higher education funding was the reason he and others from campuses around the state lobbied lawmakers this past session.

“We’re just very excited this process is getting started,” he said. “For us at UNLV, we want to make sure that our students are being adequately supported.”

The higher education funding study was authorized by Senate Bill 374 by Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who during the 2011 legislative session expressed concern about the funding formulas and whether the College of Southern Nevada was being shortchanged.

The bill as originally introduced re-directed some property taxes to the college.

At a hearing on the original bill in March, then student body President John Creedon said the college was being shortchanged by the formula. The universities get more private funding and grants, while CSN has to be low cost and accessible to those who can’t go to another institution, he said.

Lee said at the March hearing that the funding discrepancy was such that a discrimination lawsuit was a possibility.

The measure morphed into the study instead, however. Lee is not serving on the interim study committee but is expected to testify before the panel.

Today’s meeting saw a lengthy discussion on what should be included in the request for proposals to hire a consultant to provide the needed technical information to consider how the formulas might be changed. The RFP will now be advertised so the panel can select a consultant at its next meeting in mid-January.

Consultant proposals are due to the Legislature by Dec. 30.

The panel is required to forward its recommendations to the Legislative Commission prior to the start of the 2013 legislative session.


Audio clips:

Sen. Steven Horsford says the review is about student access:

112911Horsford :17 state of Nevada.”

UNLV student government representative Ricardo Cornejo says he wants to be sure the college campuses are properly funded:

112911Cornejo :22 here in Nevada.”



Partisan Politics Enter Fray As Regents Consider Closing Colleges

By Andrew Doughman | 3:59 pm April 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Campus closures, consolidations and mergers are back on the table after the Board of Regents today undid a vote from last month to not consider campus closures, which itself followed a February vote to consider campus closures.

Many of the smaller colleges are in districts represented by Republicans.

Some Republicans consider the Regents’ move a political one. The threat of campus closures could be a bargaining chip Democrats can use later to convince Republicans to vote for tax increases.

“I’ve never seen political hayday as bad as this,” said Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, whose district includes Great Basin College. “I’m not a supporter of blackmail.”

Democrats refuted the claims.

“It’s more of a reality check that they’re going to have to take some pretty drastic measures,” said Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, the chairwoman of the Assembly Ways and Means committee.

But, she said, the Legislature is a political environment. Last month, Assembly Republicans released their own list of bargaining chips that they would trade for taxes.

“We’re fooling ourselves if we think that these decisions won’t be somewhat political,” Smith said.

The Board voted 10 – 3 to again consider closing campuses. They did not, however, vote on any actual campus closures.

Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, spoke at the meeting in Las Vegas in support of considering campus closures.

Horsford has been a driving force in putting the possibility of closures back on the table. He earlier asked Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich to develop full plans for how the universities and colleges of Nevada will absorb Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed $162.4 million higher-education budget reduction.

“I would urge you to reconsider your earlier action that took campus closures off the table as one of the implications of reduced funding for higher education,” Horsford said. “One of the realities we must face – in light of the new information on the full extent of the governor’s proposed cuts – is that if those cuts are accepted, campuses would have to close.”

The debate in the Legislature mirrored the Regents’ debate about campus closures.

“It’s hogwash, it’s politics, and I’m not in favor of it,” said Jack Schofield, a regent representing Clark County. “I’m not in favor of getting this thing back in where we can emasculate anything that we’ve worked for.”

Regent Michael Wixom, who represents Clark County, said that all they are doing is gathering information about campus closures.

“If I’m going to make an informed decision, I have to follow that process,” he said.

Regent Ron Knecht, a former Republican Assemblyman from Carson City, was the primary supporter of keeping campus closures off the table. He said it would cause undue stress and demoralize students, staff and faculty at institutions considered for closure.

“Apparently some politicians have some political battle to fight with the governor and minority party legislators and that fight is more important that those considerations,” he said.

Assemblyman Pete Livermore, R-Carson City, represents a district that includes Western Nevada College.

“I believe it’s an issue of targeted political pressure,” he said.

The Regents met in March at Western Nevada College and heard a preliminary report from Klaich that closures could save $7 to $15 million.

The Regents voted to not further consider closures at that meeting after hearing hours of public testimony during which students and faculty described how detrimental those considerations could be to morale.

Following today’s vote, the Regents will again consider all options to mitigate cuts. To that end, they also voted unanimously to support raising revenue for higher education.

The campus closures, however, appear to be more politically contentious than the unanimous vote.

“I’m a little concerned that you keep asking a question until you get the answer you want,” said Livermore.

Lieutenant Governor Criticized At Board of Regents Meeting

By Andrew Doughman | 5:26 pm March 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – It was not a friendly crowd for Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki as he spoke of economic development at Western Nevada College.

The bleachers in Sarah Winnemucca Hall were packed with students and staff concerned about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed $162 million reduction in state support for Nevada’s colleges and universities.

James Dean Leavitt, chairman of the Board of Regents, criticized the governor’s proposal. He said that Nevada’s higher education system has never been properly funded and that economic diversification should be coupled with diversifying revenue.

Leavitt had earlier called for tax increases to mitigate cuts to higher education.

“I’m not preaching to my audience right now, but the Legislature and the governor are making an unbelievably difficult decision,” Krolicki said in response to Leavitt. “…The best way to get out of these budget woes is to crank this economy and let it go. That’s what we need to do.”

Leavitt and the other dozen regents were gathered at Western Nevada College for a board meeting. The board is responsible for approving cuts like those drafted by UNLV and UNR earlier this week, as well as tuition increases.

Krolicki addressed ways universities can help create jobs during his speech to the board.

Apart from his job as lieutenant governor, Krolicki is the chairman of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development. That means he works with higher education institutions to do things like commercialize research.

Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, played the conciliator after Leavitt and Krolicki had their back-and-forth.

“Brian [Krolick] has included NSHE in every conversation that has been had,” he said “…I think that the board has said exactly what it needs to say, but I would like to recognize a true partner who has been with us through every step of the way.”

Officially, Krolicki was supposed to talk only about economic development, but his ties to the governor and the proposed state budget could not be ignored.

The state budget weaved its way through everything the Regents talked about. Students exclusively addressed it during public comment. The hallways were alive with chatter about the proposed cuts; one young woman cried watching the testimony of Western Nevada College students whose program for the deaf could disappear with its funding.

The Board of Regents reconvenes at Western Nevada College tomorrow, when they plan to officially address the governor’s proposed budget.


Board of Regents Chairman Calls For Tax Increases

By Andrew Doughman | 2:41 pm January 28th, 2011

A prominent education official has called for tax increases to offset the proposed higher education budget cuts in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

James Dean Leavitt, chair of the board that governs Nevada’s higher education system, said today that he would like the Legislature to use a “revenue enhancement” to offset every dollar the governor proposes to cut from the system.

He said that the Legislature should maintain the level of funds that it appropriated to Nevada’s higher education system during the 2010 special session.

Sandoval’s budget recommends a $162 million reduction in state spending for the next biennium. Chancellor Dan Klaich, who oversees the Nevada System of Higher Education, said yesterday at a legislative budget subcommittee hearing that a 73 percent tuition increase would be necessary to offset that decrease.

Leavitt said the universities and colleges of this state have already taken three successive years of cuts and any further cuts would have a “cataclysmic impact” for the state. While acknowledging the need for spending accountability, he said the system should be properly funded.

“That means coming up with new revenue from any and all sources,” he said. “What’s unfortunate is that we look at any revenue enhancement as a burden and … not a public good.”

Leavitt is the chair of the Board of Regents, the governing body that determines how to spend the money the Legislature appropriates to it. The Board of Regents oversees all of the state’s universities and community colleges.

He condemned the proposed budget cuts at a town hall meeting at UNLV earlier today.

Sandoval, however, has said repeatedly that he would not support a tax increase and would veto any bill containing one.

The governor has also repeated a mantra that government agencies should make each dollar go further.

“You have to have money in order to invest money,” said Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s senior adviser, at a press conference yesterday. “All investors know, when you only have a finite amount of money, you have to make your money work harder, and we believe the budget does that.”

The governor responded to criticisms of his proposed budget in a statement released this afternoon. “It is important for Nevadans to know that we are not the only state facing challenges in funding higher education,” he said. “The economic situation across the nation is forcing governors and Legislatures to make reductions in higher education spending. Some are facing even deeper cuts than Nevada.”

Leavitt, however, said that there’s “tremendous support” for properly funding higher education, partially because there’s a direct public benefit from the system.

Yesterday, Klaich came close to voicing support for a tax increase.

“I’m not sure that the people of Nevada don’t want taxes to support education,” he said. “I don’t just accept the fact that our friends and neighbors don’t want to support education by means of enhanced revenues.”

Other higher education officials have been less supportive of any spending increases. Mark Alden, a member of the Board of Regents, said that new taxes should be the last resort.

He said he needs more time to study the budget and look at every way to cut expenses first. If further evaluation proves the higher education system needs more funding, he said he would support a “modest business tax.”

Today, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, responded to the proposed higher-education budget cuts with a letter slamming the governor’s plan.

Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, has also criticized the governor’s proposed cuts to both the K-12 and higher education budgets.

“We all understand that we will not be able to turn around this economy without a well-educated workforce to attract new businesses, yet the governor is proposing draconian cuts to education funding,” he said in a statement released earlier today.

Democrats in the Senate and Assembly have, however, thus far proposed no plan of their own to counter the governor’s.

Erquiaga yesterday challenged Democrats to present their own plan.

“The governor has put his cards on the table,” Erquiaga said. “The other side is talking about the hand they hold.”

The people of Nevada will get to weigh in with their thoughts regarding revenue and budget cuts at tomorrow’s budget, town hall meetings in Reno and Las Vegas.

Governor’s Salary Cuts To Include Teachers, Higher-Ed Employees

By Andrew Doughman | 2:59 pm January 13th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval’s staff today clarified that the proposed five percent salary reductions announced yesterday includes teachers and higher-education employees.

Slashing salaries saves the state $592 million over two years when taking into account continued longevity and merit pay suspensions.

Like the governor’s proposed higher-education cuts, the governor’s staff has said it will hand over a budget reflecting the salary decreases and let school districts and Board of Regents decide what to do.

It’s going to be up to, of course, the school districts whether they want to cut the pay for all school district employees,” said Heidi Gansert, the governor’s chief of staff, during an afternoon press briefing. “We pass a law that reflects a five percent cut, but it’s up to the school districts to bargain.”

Although school districts have contractual obligations regarding pay, Gansert also said that contract negotiations are starting at both the K-12 and higher-education levels.

The governor’s staff also clarified that while contribution rates to the Public Employee Retirement system are set to increase,the rates will be applied against the lower salary.

Audio Clip: 011311Gansert :13 of staff too.”