SAM MORRIS / LAS VEGAS SUN FILE
Published Monday, March 16, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Updated Monday, March 16, 2009 | 11:25 a.m.
The war of words Higher Education System Chancellor Jim Rogers has waged with Gov. Jim Gibbons over budget cuts is making headlines outside Nevada.
The feisty chancellor, who called Gibbons a “greedy, uninterested, unengaged human being” in a February Nevada Appeal opinion article, landed in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of “ 13 Reasons Colleges Are in This Mess.”
Item no. 7 on the list that the industry newspaper published this month was titled, “Stumbled at the Statehouse.”
“More colleges are finally waking up to a well-known reality: Politics is the art of compromise,” the Chronicle the wrote.
“Mr. Rogers’s fiery rhetoric may leave hard feelings after he steps down this year,” the article stated. Rogers’ term as chancellor is scheduled to end this summer.
But how accurate is the Chronicle’s assessment?
Although the chairman and vice chairman of the higher education system’s Board of Regents reprimanded Rogers for his Nevada Appeal missive, plenty of state lawmakers have lauded Rogers for speaking up.
Back in December, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said of Rogers, “His style is part of who he is. And you know, I would rather see more dialogue than less, so his style doesn’t offend me at all. To the contrary, I find it refreshing.”
Rogers says he called the Chronicle this morning with the following message: "Academic politics is the art of surrender, not compromise."
The chancellor, who has insulted the governor repeatedly for his proposal to cut state funding for higher education by more than a third, says colleges have compromised too much in the past. The institutions are now are now so underfunded, Rogers says, that "there's nothing left to compromise."
Nursing and medical students will have something to look forward to in fall: A new training center in Las Vegas where they will be able to practice surgical techniques, care for mock patients and work with hi-tech dummies that exhibit “symptoms” of illnesses.
But the upgrade to their educational experience will not be free.
Nursing students at Nevada State College and UNLV will pay a $300 fee for each skills course in which they use the specialized labs at the Shadow Lane Clinical Skills and Simulation Center off West Charleston Boulevard, says Marcia Turner, vice chancellor of operations for the higher education system’s health sciences system. University of Nevada School of Medicine students will pay a $577 annual fee.
The student contributions are expected to total $366,000 annually, which will pay for four full-time employees at the facility including highly skilled technicians who will operate the mannequins, Turner says.
The money will also go toward supplies such as syringes and gauze that the students will use in their training.
Somewhere between Nevada’s no-new-taxes governor and no-budget-cuts higher education chancellor, the UNLV College Republicans are finding middle ground.
The GOP group — like many other Nevada Republicans — split with Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons over his proposal to cut higher education’s state funding by more than a third.
“At a time when many Nevadans are returning to school to train for better careers or staying in school to earn advanced degrees, in the face of a recession, is not a good time to reduce our investments in education at all and certainly it isn’t the time to severely damage our tertiary institutions of learning,” the College Republicans wrote in a recent news release.
But the organization doesn’t fall squarely into Chancellor Jim Rogers’ camp, either.
The same news release called for UNLV to “perform triage” by creating a task force to determine which programs have potential and which are foundering, “so that money isn’t wasted on those that have no hope of achieving excellence.”
UNLV’s leadership had, in fact, asked deans late last year to begin evaluating academic programs to determine which were most productive, using measures such as graduation rates and placement in national rankings. Rogers put a stop to that review, saying, “It would have done nothing other than upset everyone.”
Matthew Jarzen, College Republicans president, takes issue with that dismissive attitude. While a January town hall meeting at UNLV was billed as a forum where administrators would seek input on how to deal with the budget crisis, Jarzen says officials gave a tepid reception to comments about wasteful spending while enthusiastically supporting increased taxes.
“If you want a discussion, let’s have a discussion instead of just a one-note type of thing,” he said.