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April 18, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: HIGHER EDUCATION:

Budget picture to clear as academic year ends

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LEILA NAVIDI / LAS VEGAS SUN file

UNLV student body president Adam Cronis talks with a volunteer at a March 26 rally against proposed budget cuts in higher education. Cronis said student leaders will “do our darndest” keep students informed about the budget after classes end.

After months of uncertainty, employees and students of Nevada’s public higher education system should soon have answers about the size of budget reductions their campuses will endure in the upcoming biennium.

How much influence they will have on the way administrators make cuts is another question.

Dan Klaich, the higher education system’s executive vice chancellor, said the Legislature is scheduled to finalize the system’s budget by May 8, the week students at Nevada State College and UNLV take final exams. The College of Southern Nevada’s exams are the following week. The system’s Board of Regents is set to discuss the budget May 12.

Many professors leave the area during summer to vacation or do work such as conducting research using resources at other universities.

Sondra Cosgrove, faculty senate chairwoman at CSN, said she is confident faculty would have opportunities to contribute to budget discussions on her campus, even with the school year ending.

“Faculty can call, they can e-mail, they can fax,” she said. “There’s many ways of communicating.”

UNLV faculty senate chairman John Filler seemed more concerned. Asked whether he was worried about the amount of input faculty will be able to have, Filler replied, “Absolutely. No question about it. I have brought that up to the president, and he has assured me that regardless of the time frame, every effort will be made to consult the faculty.”

UNLV student body president Adam Cronis said although it will be more difficult to update students on budget matters once they leave campus, “we’re going to do our darndest to do that.”

After May 12, UNLV administrators will communicate budget information to the campus community using methods that could include

e-mail and a town hall meeting. CSN plans to hold budget town hall meetings May 14 at each of its three major campuses.

Nevada State College does not have similar forums planned, President Fred Maryanski said.

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UNLV President David Ashley will be in the spotlight today and Friday as a committee including Cronis, regents and members of the Las Vegas community discusses Ashley’s performance.

The UNLV presidency is the first top job Ashley has held. He took the helm in 2006 after serving as a high-level administrator at the University of California at Merced.

At UNLV, 744 staff and faculty members completed a faculty senate survey sent to more than 2,000 people to evaluate Ashley. Faculty leaders submitted a report summarizing the results to a consultant heading the evaluation process.

Filler declined to comment on survey outcomes but said this of Ashley: “One of the big issues that I think many people feel is the president needs to improve his communication.”

Some members of the campus community have criticized Ashley for doing a poor job of keeping them up to date on campus news, including how UNLV will handle budget cuts and how the university’s $500 million fundraising campaign is progressing.

The evaluation committee will take public comment today and Friday and give the consultant suggestions on what to include in a report the consultant will draft regarding Ashley’s performance.

At their June meeting, the regents will discuss the consultant’s report and vote on whether to renew Ashley’s contract, Klaich said. According to Klaich, Ashley’s contract ends in 2010 and a renewal would likely extend it to 2013.

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A survey the Chronicle of Higher Education published this month found that faculty salaries at Nevada public universities top national averages.

According to the industry publication, the average full professor at UNLV makes about $122,200, the average associate professor about $89,500, and the average assistant professor about $71,300.

Average pay at other public doctoral universities included in the report was $115,509 for full professors, $79,986 for associate professors and $68,048 for assistant professors.

Salaries at the University of Nevada, Reno for full, associate and assistant professors were also above those nationwide averages. The data was compiled by the American Association of University Professors.

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