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October 25, 2014

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CSN budget cuts to limit expansion at time of higher enrollment

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Steve Marcus

A sign posted by students is displayed outside a regents meeting at the College of Southern Nevada, Charleston campus Thursday, March 3, 2010.

Cutting 6.9 percent from the College of Southern Nevada’s operating budget will force a de facto enrollment cap and jeopardize the institution’s “open access” mission.

CSN President Michael Richards delivered that grim message to the Board of Regents at today's meeting to review budget reduction plans by the state’s eight higher education campuses.

CSN intends to implement across-the-board cuts of nearly $2 million from this year’s operating budget and $5.7 million for the 2011 fiscal year.

Richards told the regents he’s put a “measured growth” policy into place, limiting expansion of high-demand academic programs and turning away qualified students. That’s contrary to what community colleges are supposed to be about, Richards said. And it’s a particularly bitter pill to swallow given that CSN’s enrollment is up 6.7 percent over last year.

Nathaniel Waugh, CSN’s student body president, praised Richards for fully involving the entire campus community in the budget reduction process. There were numerous opportunities for public input, as well as frequent town hall meetings to keep people up to date on developments, Waugh said.

“We’ve been able to find a way to make the necessary cuts without drastically affecting students’ access to education,” Waugh said. “The services they need, like counseling and tutoring, are still there.”

Mark Rauls, CSN’s Faculty Senate chair, told the regents that his colleagues “played a central role” in developing the criteria for the cuts, and thanked Richards for “letting the faculty know they had a voice.”

CSN will offer buyouts to some faculty as a cost-savings measure, although the cost savings won’t be realized immediately. That will require greater reliance on part-time and adjunct faculty.

The regents are holding a special meeting today at the Desert Research Institute to hear and approve budget reduction plans for CSN, Nevada State College, Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College and Western Nevada College.

While the presidents of UNLV and UNR are also providing updates today on their proposed budget cuts, approval of those plans won’t happen until the regents meet in June.

Given the greater complexity of the budget cuts at the state’s universities, which will likely include the elimination of entire programs and departments, more time is needed to complete the process, said system Chancellor Dan Klaich.

UNLV has already cut $44 million from its budget since 2007. President Neal Smatresk said he plans to use $3 million in reserves to cover the remainder of this year’s required cut, and trim another $10.6 million through June 2011. Of those reductions, $5.6 million will be in administration and $4 million from academic programs. A faculty committee is reviewing programs already identified as being at risk of elimination – including gerontology, women’s studies and landscape architecture – and will make its recommendations to Smatresk for consideration.

There are tough choices ahead, Smatresk told the Sun this morning, adding: “I’m just about determined that the St. Bernard is not coming … I don’t see a rescue on the horizon.”

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