The New NSHE Funding Formula, the Good, the Bad and the Worse

August 30, 2012

This statement was delivered at the Board Of Regents’ Special meeting at DRI South on August 24, 2012

The Good

  •  The plan to retain student fees and tuition on the respective college campuses should promote an entrepreneurial approach to higher education that has worked very successfully in many other states such as Arizona and Oregon.
  • Establishing a base formula in which the funding is tied to local student demand and the cost of content delivery is fair and transparent.
  • The emphasis on number of graduates rather than on enrollment should make institutions more accountable.

The Bad

  • The performance pool is disproportionately weighted in favor of the number of graduates, and is therefore only weakly tied to performance as recognized by students, faculty and organizations involved in ranking colleges and universities. There is much too great an emphasis on numbers and not on quality and efficiency.

The Worse

  • The absence in the performance pool of national benchmarks provides little incentive, particularly for the universities, to become centers of excellence

As you may know, student loan debt has replaced auto loan debt and credit card debt as the top source of debt in the nation. The total outstanding student loan debt now stands at a staggering $870 billion. For all borrowers across the nation, the average student debt is $23,000. In this regard, it is important to point out that the longer a student pursues a degree, the greater the debt accrued. That is, there’s a strong relationship between the years to completion and the accumulated debt. Moreover, students who fail to graduate accrue large amounts of debt without any of the considerable economic benefits of obtaining a BS or BA degree.

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Funding of Higher Education’s Performance Pool, Economic and Workforce Development, and Research Subcommittee

June 26, 2012

David Zeh provided testimony at a meeting of the Nevada Legislature’s Economic, Workforce Development and Research Committee regarding the Funding of Higher Education’s Performance Pool.   The full testimony can be found below:

Assemblyman Paul Aizley

Funding of Higher Education’s Performance Pool, Economic and Workforce Development, and Research Subcommittee

Thank you Chairman Aizley for this opportunity for public comment. My name is David Zeh, and I am Chair of the University of Nevada Reno, Faculty Senate. I would like to comment on latest version of NSHE’s Performance Pool Model (version16), specifically with regard to the Nevada universities, that is, UNR and UNLV. First, I suggest that the new model, which now includes a 20% weight for research expenditures, is a step in the right direction. Rewarding research productivity is essential to ensuring that our universities remain centers of learning excellence. Nonetheless, I am disappointed that this new model does not include direct incentives for institutions to become more efficient at graduating their students. Without such
incentives, we will be doing a disservice to our students and also to our institutions of higher learning.

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Greetings from David Zeh, 2012-13 Faculty Senate Chair

June 14, 2012

Dear Faculty,
The Faculty Senate held their scheduled executive board elections at their May 9, 2012 Faculty Senate meeting and we are proud to present the new Faculty Senate Executive Board Members to you:
Chair:                         David Zeh (Biology)
Chair-elect:                Swatee Naik (Mathematics and Statistics)
Parliamentarian:        Chuck Price (Joe Crowley Student Union)
At Large:                    Trish Ellison (CABNR)
                                   Glenn Miller (CABNR)
Ex Officio:                    David Ryfe (Journalism)
Contact information for the new executive board can be found at the link below:

I encourage all faculty to communicate regularly with their Senators to help identify issues of importance that we may consider in the coming year.

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Letter to Assembly Republicans

February 25, 2010

Dear Members of the Assembly Minority:

Pardon me for sending this e-mail to you all simultaneously, but I just wanted to ask for your support in limiting the budget cuts for higher education to 5%.

I know this is a difficult time, and your choices are not easy ones. In this economy, we are no longer collecting as much in taxes as we had planned for. Nevada already has a very slim state government, and it is important that we continue to provide essential public services. Education is key to helping Nevada become part of the 21st Century economy, and continue to become a better place to live.

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Letter to Assembly Democrats

February 25, 2010

Dear Members of the Assembly Majority:

Pardon me for sending this e-mail to you all simultaneously, but I just wanted to send you a quick “thank you” for your vote today on limiting the budget cuts for higher education to 5%. I know this vote is not binding, but nonetheless it is a bright light in a very dark tunnel.

We know this is a difficult time for you all, as you try to cope with the need to provide an essential level of public services to the state in spite of the fact that we are no longer collecting as many taxes as we had planned for, and in spite of the Governor’s unwillingness to recognize the problem for what it actually is. Nevada has a very small state government, a very undiversified tax base that has declined much more than our overall economy, and a small number of very vocal people that oppose anything government does even though they rely on those services.

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Budget Reduction Principles

February 5, 2010

Principles for Budget Discussions
Bill Follette, Chair of the Faculty Senate 2008-9

Endorsed by the Faculty Senate of the University of Nevada, Reno
June 5, 2008

Earlier this year Governor Gibbons required a 4.5% budget reduction for UNR. Following consultation with the Faculty Senate leadership, President Glick introduced strategic cuts that were governed by a set of principles that were largely in agreement with the following paragraph distributed to the senate in a memo from Steve Rock, then Chair of the Faculty Senate:

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Sense of the Senate, September 24, 2009

September 25, 2009

The Faculty Senate of the University of Nevada, Reno supports the following recommendations for the Board of Regents:

1) We ask that the Board of Regents modify the current policy on furloughs, and extend exemption from mandatory furloughs to those professional employees paid with grants, contracts, fees or other non-state sources if the revenues lost are greater than the salary savings, as long as these revenues cannot be captured in other ways.

2) We ask that the Board of Regents delegate the implementation of this policy to the presidents. The presidents should then be required to report back to the Board of Regents on all such exemptions, detailing why their decisions to exempt certain faculty meet the above conditions.

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Faculty Senate Chair Remarks, UNR Town Hall, July 16, 2009

July 23, 2009

[Note: The town hall was actually on July 23. I looked at the wrong week on my calendar. Summer is passing so quickly!]

When the Governor proposed cutting the university’s budget by more than a third, he also proposed a 6% pay cut for all state employees. The budget reductions the Legislature actually adopted are still painful, and have cost us good people, but they leave the university standing. The pay cuts are supposed to be in the form of 4% furloughs, though to leave our benefits intact these cuts actually work out to 4.6%, one day a month.

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Furlough and Student Surcharge Outcomes from NSHE Board of Regents June 19, 2009

June 22, 2009

Las Vegas, Nevada – June 19, 2009

The Board of Regents took action today to implement legislatively required budget reductions through the use of an employee furlough program and temporary increases to student fees.

Based on recommendations from Board Chair Michael Wixom and Vice Chair Jason Geddes, the Nevada System of Higher Education will implement general professional personnel cost reduction measures in FY 2010, followed by a mandatory furlough program in FY 2011 to reduce professional staff and faculty salaries with an option for an increased workload for tenured faculty. The aim of the program is to meet the intent of Senate Bill 433 which calls for a four percent reduction each year of the biennium. This program will not affect part-time teaching faculty.

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Statement of the UNR Faculty Senate Chair (Presented to the NSHE Board of Regents Friday, June 19, 2009)

June 22, 2009

The faculty of UNR are grateful to the Legislature, the Board of Regents, and the citizens of this state for their efforts to defend higher education from a devastating budget reduction that would have effectively dismantled the NSHE system into the indefinite future. We also want to express our admiration for our students for recognizing that the education they receive is valuable, and appreciate that they are willing to pay more to help us keep providing it.

We recognize that this proposal represents serious work by many people, in an effort to balance what the Legislature wanted us to do with what we can legally do and what is wise to do. We know that the Regents are doing their best to balance these demands.

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