For more than 130 years, our institution has been on a clear trajectory. With each passing year, we’ve become a stronger institution, serving the state of Nevada in ways far too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say, particularly recently as we have reached key historic institutional milestones, we have made significant strides in providing the citizens of our state with meaningful results that have made a profound difference in their lives.
The compact between our campus and the citizens of our state has been a simple one: We aspire to be a quality institution in order to improve the quality of life in our state. We have kept this compact by graduating quality students, providing K-12 teacher preparation, offering important educational outreach initiatives to Nevada’s communities, supplying applied research focused on solving practical problems, and, through good economic times and bad, serving as a major and reliable economic engine.
Today, however, is a day where I can no longer say with certainty that any of this will continue at the level that our state needs if Nevada is to fully recover from its deep recession. Throughout these many months of budget reductions, the University has attempted to protect student success and the research capabilities of our campus. We continue to place a premium on both of these areas. However, the proposed budget reductions announced today dramatically reduce the quality of the University’s core instructional and research capabilities. The proposed budget reductions that I announce today, in fact, touch every corner of our University. They eliminate or severely curtail key service functions in ways that will impact our student body for years to come. Should the cuts announced today come to fruition, the institution will no longer be able to support our students with a broad range of quality degree programs. Sadly, faculty and staff positions will be lost and the lives of hundreds of individuals on our campus will be painfully impacted.
There is an important distinction between the budget reductions announced today and those announced in March: those announced today will be subject to future curricular review ONLY IF reductions of this magnitude are necessary following the determination of the state budget and related budgetary decisions by the Nevada Board of Regents. I wish to remain clear that we will continue to press our case to the legislature and to the governor that they must work to alleviate or moderate the reductions we are facing. Failure to do so will not simply defer the promise of tomorrow; it will ensure that the state’s dreams of tomorrow may take decades – if ever – to be fully realized.
Let us all hope we will be given the opportunity to right our trajectory, recapture our quality and regain our momentum as quickly as possible.
Here are pertinent details of what we are announcing to the campus today.
On March 22, 2011, the Joint Subcommittee on Education of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means directed the Nevada System of Higher Education to provide specific budget reductions identified in the governor’s budget recommendation totaling $162 million, of which the University of Nevada, Reno would provide specific budget reductions of $58.8 million. To reach the $58.8 million reduction, the University is assuming plans will be implemented for a 5 percent salary reduction as called for in the governor’s budget, which saves $6 million annually, and $14 million in new revenue from increased tuition and fees, as determined by the Board of Regents.
This leaves $38 million in additional reductions to be identified. On March 7, the University announced $25 million in proposed budget reductions, many in support units where affected individuals have been or will soon be given notice. The remaining reductions are in academic units and these proposals are currently moving through a formal curricular review process. Even with these $25 million in proposed reductions, $13.8 million more remained to be identified and reported to the Joint Subcommittee by April 5, 2011.
Earlier budget reductions from last year were enacted with great pain and consequence, and the additional proposed reductions announced today mean that the University of Nevada, Reno is an institution much further at risk. This latest $13.8 million proposed reduction greatly alters the University’s trajectory in all aspects of its mission. More of the University’s core instructional, research and service functions will be eliminated, curtailing overall quality. The institution will no longer be able to support its students with a broad range of quality degree programs in key areas to the state, and the reduction in course offerings will impede the ability of students to graduate in a timely fashion. For example, 1,600 students are directly affected by these proposed reductions. And, many more will be indirectly affected.
Further impacting student success, important support services will be further curtailed. At this critical juncture in our state’s history, where families are at risk and improved graduation and retention rates remain a top priority, it is of utmost importance that we provide academic and financial support for our students, many of whom are first-generation college students. The proposed cuts announced today jeopardize the promise to all students that the University has the necessary resources committed for their ultimate success and graduation.
As Nevada’s oldest institution of higher learning, this proposed round of budget reductions will ensure long-term harm to the University’s aging infrastructure as much-needed maintenance and repair work will go unmet. The cuts mean that the campus’ deferred maintenance will soar well beyond the $300 million already identified.
The reduction proposals announced today were identified after consultation with a faculty committee, the membership of which was determined with Faculty Senate input. The faculty committee developed a set of principles by which this latest round of proposed reductions was determined, and those principles are attached along with the specific budget reduction proposals. There is an important distinction between the budget reductions announced today and those announced in March: those announced today will be subject to future curricular review only if reductions of this magnitude are necessary following the determination of the state budget and related budgetary decisions by the Nevada Board of Regents.
The specific plan for the fiscal year’s $58.8 million in reductions includes:
- Permanent elimination of 318 positions
- 1,600 students directly affected by proposed reductions in program and degree areas listed below
Consolidation of four colleges into two:
- College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources into College of Science
- College of Education into College of Liberal Arts
Elimination of majors/minors:
- Educational Leadership
- Educational Psychology, Counseling and Human Development
- Educational Specialties
Elimination or significantly downsize (note: * signifies elimination):
- Cooperative Extension
- Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
- Center for Research Design and Analysis *
- Nevada Small Business Development Center
- Business Center North
- Intercollegiate Athletics
- Hydrology Graduate Program
- Atmospheric Science Graduate Program
- Student Services including reductions in Disability Resource Center, Center for Student Cultural Diversity, Student Success Services, Student Conduct, Recruitment, and Admissions and Records. Also, additional student services will move to fee-based support.
- University of Nevada School of Medicine
- University Assessment Office *
- Faculty Senate
- Temporary Instructor Funding
- Office of the Provost/Core Curriculum staffing
- Office of the President
- Special Collections Library staffing*
- Institutional Analysis
- Library Materials Budget
- Custodial Services
Elimination of all state funding:
- Basque Studies
- International Students and Scholars
- Center for Justice Studies
- Child and Family Research Center
- Lombardi Wellness Center
- Center for Substance Abuse Technology
- New Student Initiatives Program
- Latino Research Center
- Black Rock Press
If these proposed budget reductions are fully implemented, the University’s budget will have been reduced by more than $100 million over two bienniums or four years. Our campus will have eliminated more than 700 budgeted positions and more than 30 degree programs, and more than 50 services and programs will have been eliminated or sharply reduced.
It has taken more than a century to build the University of Nevada, Reno into an institution of service to the state. The University has always explored new ways to become more efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of its citizenry. Unfortunately, should the current level of proposed budget reductions stand, it will take years, if not decades, to recapture the University’s quality and momentum during a time of increased economic and intellectual competition within the country and the world.