Today, the University notified faculty and staff in programs and departments that are being proposed for closure, reorganization or reduction. The proposals announced represent an annual budget reduction of $26 million and the elimination of 225 positions. Of these positions, 150 are currently filled and the remaining have been held open in anticipation of possible budget cuts.
I am deeply saddened about the ramifications of this news, and what it means to the lives of the people who were notified today. Our University is first and foremost a people enterprise. Whenever we eliminate positions, we diminish what we are and what we represent to our state. My sincere wish is that the notifications made today will somehow be alleviated in the future. The reality remains, however, that the proposed reductions announced today are a first step in anticipation of a budget reduction that could reach as high as $59 million by July 2012. The final budget reduction will be determined through the budget process now underway within the Nevada State Legislature. The round of proposed reductions announced today follows significant reductions already made by the University. Since 2009, the University’s annual general fund appropriation has been cut $44 million, or 20 percent. More than 400 budgeted positions have already been eliminated and more than 100 faculty and staff have lost jobs. Twenty-three programs have previously been closed and 29 services and programs sharply reduced. Coinciding with these cuts, undergraduate tuition and fees have increased 28 percent over the past two years.
The decision to propose elimination, reorganization or reduction of the programs notified today was not easy, as the budget picture in Carson City is far from clear. The final budget reduction may include additional factors such as across-the-board salary reductions proposed in the state executive budget and possible further increases in tuition and fees as determined by the Board of Regents. Even with several unknowns, we nonetheless are facing a tight budget timeline. The Board of Regents and members of the Nevada State Legislature have already made requests of us to detail how we could accomplish such a budget reduction. The projected reductions are of such magnitude that today’s announcement was made with a desire to provide faculty and staff directly impacted with as much notice as possible if such a large budget reduction indeed comes to pass. I believe it is imperative that we look ahead and begin this process, however painful it could be, now.
As with all of our previous budget cuts, we have attempted to maintain the University’s core strengths, which include a strong research program and quality degree programs. We have attempted to preserve access for our future students and to ensure their success on our campus. However, there is no denying that these proposals will have a dramatic impact on our campus. Cuts implemented previously, cuts announced today and cuts still to come represent the greatest challenge the University of Nevada, Reno has ever faced in its more than 130-year history. I’ve mentioned in numerous Town Hall meetings that sustained budget cuts would change the very nature of our University. The news announced today, sadly, affirms this new path.
Today’s plans include reductions in administrative, support and academic areas. Reductions will be made within the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Student Services, Office of the Vice President for Research, Finance and Administration, Development and Alumni Relations, Information Technologies, Libraries, and Athletics.
Services and programs proposed by the Provost after consultation with Deans and Vice Presidents for reduction include the following among others:
- Significant reduction in University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: Following a projected $5.5 million cut, some presence along with educational services would continue in all Nevada counties through federal, county and limited state funding. The statewide 4-H program would continue.
- Significant reduction in the Bureau of Mining and Geology: Following a projected $1.1 million cut, the role of the Nevada State Geologist and related services, which are defined by Nevada Revised Statutes, would continue;
- Additional and significant reduction in Student Services including reductions in Disability Resource Center, Center for Cultural Diversity, Student Success Services, Student Conduct, Recruitment and Admissions and Records. Also, additional student services will move to fee-based support;
- Closure of the School of Social Work and related degrees;
- Closure of academic programs and degrees in theater and dance;
- Closure of the degree major in French;
- Reductions to the University of Nevada School of Medicine;
- Closure of the Special Collections Department within the University Libraries: Current collections would remain archived;
- Closure of the Assessment Office;
- Additional and significant reduction in University-wide information technology services and the libraries’ materials budget;
- Additional and significant reduction in the Facilities Department which will further impact custodial and maintenance services at all University campuses and facilities.
In addition to these proposed reductions, it was also announced that an assessment of college mergers will be initiated. Specific proposals have not yet been determined.
The Provost’s proposals for closing or reducing academic programs and restructuring colleges and departments will be reviewed through a formal Academic Planning Process, which will be initiated March 7 and will provide for a period of further review and input. During this time, units will respond to proposed closures; Faculty Senate will review and make recommendations for or against plans to the Office of the President; the President will make final recommendations to the Board of Regents; Board of Regents will make final decisions on program closures in early June. Academic program closures will be effective June 30, 2012. Closures and reductions in administration and support services will be effective sooner.
To find out more about how this process will work, please visit: www.unr.edu/curricular-review-2011.
I wish to make clear to the campus community that we will continue to make a strong case to the Governor, the Legislature and the citizens of our state about our vital importance to the people and economy of the state of Nevada. We appreciate all that you, as individuals and citizens of our state, can do in this regard. A strong higher education system is the cornerstone by which Nevada can chart a wise and clear future, one that diversifies and improves the state’s economy.
As we have faced previous budget cuts, you have all shown great support for one another. Please continue to do so. The character, collegiality and hard work of our faculty, staff and students during these difficult times have all been clear affirmation of the values that make our University so special – and so central to realizing the promise of Nevada.