Chancellor Dan Klaich of the Nevada System of Higher Education sent a letter to state budget director Andrew Clinger on Monday in which he announced that the Board of Regents will meet on Feb. 2 to discuss plans submitted by the campuses to assess budget reduction proposals.
Clinger previously asked all state agencies to come up with plans to meet 6 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent cuts, but Klaich has directed the campuses to consider a “middle of the road” 8 percent reduction.
Regent Jason Geddes, who represents Washoe County, said they only asked for proposals for 8 percent so as not to create tedious work for staff members.
“The governor didn’t want to spend a whole bunch of time crunching out variations of scenarios,” Geddes said.
According to an article in the Alliance, the newsletter of higher education faculty union Nevada Faculty Alliance, NSHE campuses will receive $316 million less in the 2009-2011 biennium than they did in 2007-2009, which represents a sum before the system was given federal stimulus dollars.
The typical portion of state general funds devoted to higher education is between 18 and 21 percent, but has been reduced to 15 percent.
That will have a serious impact on students’ options, said University of Nevada, Reno President Milt Glick, who is facilitating conversations with faculty and students as to what programs or services may end up falling victim to the cuts.
“If we have to cut 8 percent, the impact is huge,” he said. “We’ve already cut 15 percent out of the state budget, which was $33 million, and we protected our core functions of teaching and research, but each cut is much more difficult.”
UNR already has cut $33 million in three rounds of cuts. Previously eliminated were the writing, math and career development centers, which Glick said are vital for students. Eventually, he added, those will need to be brought back.
“We put off some necessary improvements that were very critical,” he said. “We are working every day on how to provide alternative solutions.”
Jane Tors, UNR’s director of media relations, said the university’s administration will welcome the involvement of faculty and students.
“We anticipate that it would be very much like what we’ve done in the past where we create some mechanism for the campuses to submit input and ideas and the leadership of the faculty and staff would be involved,” Geddes said.
Glick said Wednesday that specific cuts being considered by staff could not be discussed, but that faculty and staff are being consulted about potential reductions.
Once the Board of Regents meets on Feb. 2, Geddes said the members will examine the data submitted to them to make recommendations to the institutions. If reductions are called for, he said final decisions on cuts will be up to the schools.
“We try not to micromanage,” he said.
Geddes said he hopes the cuts won’t prohibit Nevada students from choosing local universities or colleges.
“(Our tuition) is still low compared to the other western states,” he said. “Anything we do will probably have a fee increase associated with it. It just depends on the timing, when we take action to be implemented.”
Glick said overall he believes enrollment is still increasing year over year because of the quality of education, not because of a sour economy. He added that “it will not be pretty” to make deeper reductions than UNR already has sustained.
“There’s just no way to make additional cuts without really doing any damage,” he said. “We are teaching more student credit hours today after cutting $33 million out of the budget.”
Glick said the university is still committed to helping students get their degrees.
“People need to know it takes a lot of time to make these changes,” he said. “We have contracts, we have students. One of our commitments is that we have students enrolled in a major, we’re going to make sure they graduate. That’s an ethical commitment we believe we have.”