The recently completed legislative session resulted in two changes that impact the Nevada System of Higher Education and, particularly all northern campuses.
For the first time in five years, the state budget did not include cuts for higher education. To put this in perspective, the overall operating budgets for all eight colleges, universities, and the DRI were cut a total of 38% from 2008 through 2012.
More importantly the implementation of the new higher education state funding formula is a game changer in Nevada. Until the 2013 legislative session, all tuition and fees collected on each campus were allocated by the Legislature. The result was that over 2/3 of each institution’s budget came directly from the state. The process was neither transparent nor efficient and it gave no incentive to the colleges and universities to be entrepreneurial.
Each institution will now retain all tuition and fees generated on the respective campuses.
Under the new formula, for example, the Nevada taxpayers will contribute $88 million per year to the University of Nevada, Reno; 20% of its total $450 million annual budget. Although this is in line with other states as a percentage of state support, our overall expenditure per student is the lowest in the country as we simply do not have the research and education grants and private philanthropy of our sister states. The taxpayer contribution is now based on course and degree completion.
Today, each president is in control of his or her institution’s destiny. As more and more students, especially out of state students, choose Nevada to study, our universities and colleges’ revenues increase. The change also gives Nevada taxpayers a better idea of actual state support for these job creators.
Our two rural colleges, WNC and GBC, however, do not fare well under this new formula. The reason is that both colleges have far fewer students enrolled than those in the urban centers of Reno and Las Vegas. This results in significant cuts to both colleges over the next two years. This shortfall will be partially covered over the next two years with funds from the other colleges and universities. In the past, the rural colleges were provided what amounted to a “rural subsidy” in their funding. We cannot expect to see this again and must find new ways to reach rural Nevadans.
On a going forward basis, both WNC and GBC must address their high administrator-to-faculty ratios and other operational inefficiencies. The rural campuses must also increase their public and private grants and more closely align with local industry. In addition we must look to sharing services at all of our northern campuses: We as a state and system can no longer afford duplicative services. We as a board are committed to addressing these issues.
The Nevada Board of Regents unanimously elected Rick Trachok as vice chairman of the 13-member higher education governing body. Rick will begin his one-year terms starting July 1, 2013.
Rick was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to serve on the Board of Regents beginning September 3, 2011 and was retained in the 2012 election as the representative for District 10. He currently serves as chair of the Workforce, Research and Economic Development Committee. He is also a member of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee and the Cultural Diversity Committee.
The Nevada System of Higher Education, comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute, serves the educational and job training needs of the nation’s fastest growing state. The NSHE provides educational opportunities to more than 105,000 students and is governed by the Nevada Board of Regents.
Earlier this month Rick had the privilege and opportunity to introduce Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to William S. Boyd School of Law students at the Thomas & Mack Moot Court at UNLV. To learn more about Scalia’s lecture read this article published by The Rebel Yell:
View photos from the event: