April 7, 2011

Messages from NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich & WNC President Carol Lucey

State Budget Cuts Threaten Your College

See below for two messages about the proposed state budget cuts to higher education:

A Message from Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich:

At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Regents on March 11, and at the budget hearing of the Joint Subcommittee on March 22, both the Board and the Subcommittee, among other questions, requested budget reduction plans showing the full extent of cuts recommended by the Governor.

Both the presidents and I have indicated on a consistent basis that the proposed budget reductions will dramatically impact higher education and, in particular, access. We believe that it is important that you understand that budget cuts to the level proposed in the executive budget will result in an entirely new business model for higher education in Nevada. We want to be clear in this transmittal that we do not believe that the recommendations, driven by the magnitude of the cuts, are in the short-term or long-term best interest of the State of Nevada.

In the short term it will lead to greater unemployment and withdraw critical dollars from the State economy. The Presidents and I believe these factors and other intangibles associated with downsizing higher education will worsen and prolong Nevada's economic depression - not assist in its recovery. In the long run, as you will see, the plan will reduce access and opportunity to thousands of Nevadans either by limiting enrollment or pricing higher education out of reach.

Again, both of these results will have negative long-term effects on our economy and the quality of life we all seek to secure.

One of the cornerstones of the NSHE's plan for higher education has been its commitment, along with that of the Governor, to the Complete College America consortium. That group is dedicated to producing a greater number of graduates and certificate completers in Nevada and across the country. While it is difficult to predict the future of this critical effort before our budget is finalized, should the level of cuts recommended in the executive budget come to be, it is clear that our continued participation in the consortium and its laudable and important goals
will have to be re-evaluated. Our consideration for millions of dollars directed at areas of critical reforms will be impacted should we be unable to commit resources to this consortium.

We must be honest that enrollment in the System has been capped for years as classes have filled and fees have increased. It is time to be even more forthright about our ability to serve the Nevadans who want to avail themselves of higher education and the promise of a better life that comes with it.

With budget reductions at the level displayed in these plans NSHE institutions will cap enrollment across the System. Enrollment caps are very difficult to implement
particularly for the first time. I will work with our Presidents, faculty and students to bring recommendations to the Board that are fundamentally fair. We must be particularly mindful of low income and first generation students who are disproportionately students of color.

With this budget, we can no longer pretend that any student who is qualified to be accepted by our institutions will have access to classes, support services, financial aid, or a degree. In order to protect the integrity of our educational enterprise, we will guarantee only the following:

Students who are admitted or enrolled at our institutions who attend full-time, maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, follow a course of study that will lead to a degree or certificate within the prescribed required credits will be guaranteed early registration, priority for need-based financial aid, and the opportunity to complete a degree or certificate within a reasonable time.

We can no longer guarantee admission to our universities or to the state college to any Nevada student who meets the minimum qualifications. In this biennium, with this budget, students will be turned away due to limited resources. We will use the resources given to NSHE by the state to educate the students we can with excellence, but we will no longer pretend that we either can or should try to accommodate every qualified student.

We can no longer guarantee enrollment at our community colleges for all who come to our door. The access mission of our community colleges will no longer be a priority for the state. Degree or certificate seeking students will be given first preference, followed by vocational technical program enrollees in areas critical to the workforce needs of the state. We will develop strategies to deal with this change that will include admissions testing and the requirement of a high school diploma, while still being sensitive to the diverse needs of our student population.

We must seriously evaluate the transfer mission of our community colleges in light of the above two statements. We can no longer guarantee that every student who qualifies to transfer from our community colleges to the universities or to the state college will be able to do so. If we promise our students a reasonably smooth path to degree, we must avoid upper division bottlenecks that could result from unlimited transfers.

This is another significant change in our policy and may have a very negative impact on students, particularly those who cannot afford to begin their studies full time at one of our universities. Again, we are forced to prioritize our limited resources to focus on those full-time, degree seeking students. Implementation of this change will require discussion among faculty and students before making final recommendations to the Board.

We will offer classes at fewer locations. In particular our rural locations will suffer as the NSHE focuses limited resources on serving the greatest number of students. We will do our best with technology to continue to provide some offerings, but "live" classes will diminish significantly.

This business model will require that we fully evaluate policies as they impact the many part-time students in our System who, because of their personal and family circumstances, cannot attend full-time. Naturally, we will do our best to accommodate these worthy students, many working and supporting families as they improve their skills, but they will be impacted as restricted resources require tighter enrollment management and planning.

We anticipate a drop in enrollment in excess 15% over the biennium, based on program elimination, site closures, fewer numbers of classes offered, increased fees, and inadequate tutoring and support services. Until resources improve this drop will be a cap on future enrollment. We anticipate that more than 20,000 qualified students (more than 8300 FTE's) who wish to take advantage of higher education will be turned away, students who will likely leave to attend postsecondary institutions in other states and who will be unlikely to return to Nevada.

We cannot guarantee adequate financial aid for students based on need, but will work hard to provide such aid for as many students as possible. Again, priority will be given to full-time, degree-seeking and certificate-seeking students.

Research and workforce grants in the state will in all likelihood decline as resources for matching funds dry up and as our best and most entrepreneurial faculty are "cherry picked" by other institutions across the nation. As we have consistently advised policymakers, this selective destruction of our best faculty - being picked off by institutions and states where the future seems more stable and supportive - has already begun and should be expected to accelerate.

The impact will not only limit the expansion that innovative research can foster, but will negatively impact our leveraging capability by reducing the revenues that our research institutions can generate to help themselves produce budget support.
The loss of tenured faculty from UNLV and UNR will also decrease access to upper division course work and graduate programs.

We pledge our best efforts to work with private businesses and the State economic development infrastructure, but we want to be clear that supporting new business initiatives while retrenching across the board is an oxymoron. We will work closely with all interested parties to align our programs wherever possible to provide such support.

We know that many of the difficult decisions we are forced to make will bring out constituent voices who object to center, program and institutional closures and consolidations. Every such action is taken with a strong awareness that we are losing a program valuable to Nevada that may never return. There are no good choices here. While we will continue to do our best to protect our core missions, let me be clear that our institutions are at risk and now under siege, slowly being dismantled.

Throughout this process, I have promised to be honest with you. I have told you that we will not say something or put something before you that we are not prepared to do. This memorandum tells you clearly what we are required to do given the funding levels being discussed. The Presidents and I know that the picture and plan for higher education laid out in this memorandum is bad for Nevada and hope that we can work together to avoid or at a minimum mitigate these impacts. However, with the funds that appear to be available, we believe that these steps are essential if we are to maintain quality in the education we offer Nevadans.

A Message from WNC President Carol Lucey:

Western Nevada College needs your help! In these tough economic times, we know that all Nevadans have been struggling, and cutting back. At Western Nevada College, we have been reducing costs in all areas of the college for three years to meet the various budget reductions imposed by the state.

The current budget proposal for state funding to Western Nevada College cuts General Fund support over the next two years by 31.7%, on top of cuts already made in each of the last three years. These new proposed cuts would directly threaten WNC's mission to serve students and employers across our 18,000-square-mile service area, and may make it impossible for many residents to earn a college degree and enhance or obtain workforce skills.

The college community has united to find ways to continue serving our students in the face of the past cuts. Our professors are admitting more students into their classes than ever before, and they are teaching more class sections each term. Members of our support staff are each doing the work of several positions and all have taken pay cuts. Still, we have been forced to eliminate some academic programs, student fees have increased, and many students have been unable to get into classes.

Now Nevada colleges and universities have been asked to make up the lost funding by targeting students for tuition increases that would be so large that many may have to leave college and many more may be prevented from even starting college. At a time when Nevada has sky-high unemployment and a dire need to educate and graduate its citizens, education is a major driver for economic expansion. This is not the time to cripple higher education's ability to meet state needs. Our state must prepare for the future, not slip back into the past.

See below for a list of the state legislators who serve western Nevada. They are in session at the state legislature in Carson City right now, trying to solve the state's budget crisis. I ask that you find the name of your state senator and assemblyperson on this list and contact them to ask that they protect higher education in Nevada from further economy-destroying cuts. The contact information for the governor's office is also on the list for your use.

We are proud of the thousands of WNC students and graduates. They represent the ultimate reason for our college's existence and are making a difference in our communities. Western Nevada College needs you now. Nevada needs you. Please do what you can to help. Thank you.

Contact legislators in writing at:
Legislative Building
401 S. Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701-4747

Contact legislators by phone or e-mail at:

Nevada Legislators Who Represent the
Western Nevada College Service Area

Senator Don Gustavson - parts of Lyon (includes a portion of Fernley) and Storey
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-1480

Senator Ben Kieckhefer - part of Carson City
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-1450

Senator Mike McGinness - Churchill, Mineral, Douglas, and Lyon
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-1442

Senator Dean Rhoads - Pershing
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-1447

Senator James Settelmeyer - parts of Carson City, Douglas, Lyon (includes a portion of Fernley), and Storey
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-1470

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart - Mineral, part of Churchill
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-8805

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea - Pershing, part of Churchill
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-8573

Assemblyman Tom Grady - Lyon (includes Fernley) and Storey, parts of Carson City and Churchill
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-8507

Assemblyman Pete Livermore - part of Carson City
(Leg. Bldg.) 775-684-8825

For additional information

Governor Brian Sandoval
Phone: 775-684-5670
Fax: 775-684-5683

For additional information, please contact:
WNC Information and Marketing Services
2201 W. College Parkway
Carson City, NV 89703
Phone: 775-445-3234
Fax: 775-445-3198
E-mail: info_desk@wnc.edu

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