The Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly talked with faculty, staff and students on Wednesday, Oct. 31, about what NSHE will be asking the newly elected governor to include in 2019 Nevada Legislature. Reilly was invited by the University of Nevada, Reno Chapter of the Nevada Faculty Alliance and the UNR Faculty Senate.
The legislature is presented biannually and works with NSHE and all institutions within NSHE. The legislature is written by the newly elected governor who is expected to give his proposal on Jan. 21, 2019.
Reilly said NSHE will be asking for summer school funding, compensation for teachers and performance-based funds. He added that NSHE will be hosting a student success summit in January 2019. The summit will address support for students to graduate, retention rates and the budget set by the Nevada Legislature.
The operating budget request is currently set for $1.5 billion, according to NSHE’s website. The request for funds is in the interest of student graduation.
“We are looking at what we can do to support our students to graduate,” Reilly said.
The proposed budget reflects the increase in diverse summer school courses in science, technology engineering and mathematics, per request of NSHE institution presidents. Currently, the budget only funds programs that are for nursing programs, according to Reilly.
Reilly said the legislature currently funds nursing programs because of a shortage of nurses statewide.
Reilly added NSHE students are becoming year-round students — meaning students are taking additional classes during winter and summer instead of just in the fall and spring — and need opportunities that reflect majors and programs that are vital in today’s economy.
“The reality is students just don’t go to school full time,” Reilly said. “Many students have to go year round. Many of our facilities are not used to this capacity. We are asking for funding on a year-round model.”
Reilly addressed the lack of faculty compensation. NSHE will be asking to fill a $90 million deficit to show the Legislature salary compression and compensation of professors and faculty is an issue.
Salary compression is the practice of paying assistant professors close to or exactly what associate and full-time professors make based on the time they were hired.
“We [NSHE Board of Regents] were able to agree compression has been a significant issue,” Reilly said. “When compression continues to happen you only increase the rate [at which it happens]. $90 million gave us evidence to bring back to the legislature.”
Reilly said NSHE will be asking for performance-based funding instead of merit-based funding. Performance-based funding would be inclusive of minority students and first-generation students and how well these students perform in academia.
NSHE made a commitment for the 2019 Legislature to invest 14 million dollars to ramp up the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ medical school. Funding would go towards faculty, staff and equipment need to have two accredited medical schools in Nevada.
Currently, professors at UNR can receive additional compensation or supplemental pay by appealing to human resources and meeting guidelines set by UNR.
Reilly added NSHE will be looking into funding supplemental programs at each institution and scholarships for students who graduate instate from high school.
Andrew Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.