The Nevada System of Higher Education has three types of institutions: Universities, a State College, and Community Colleges.
The Universities engage in research and teaching in the areas of B.A. and graduate degrees. The State College focuses on a few high demand B.A. degrees, while the Community Colleges provide basic higher education access to all Nevadans. This includes access to job training, associates degrees, and course work for students transferring to universities. Part and parcel of the access mission is keeping tuition and fees lower in comparison with other institutions; but at CSN, over the past four years, fees and tuition have repeatedly gone up while class sections and student services haven’t sufficiently met demand.
It is paramount then that any new funding formula address the community college access mission to keep current conditions from becoming the new status quo.
Unfortunately, the Nevada System of Higher Education funding proposal says nothing about access; instead it relegates most community college classes into the lowest funding category. As the largest NSHE institution, CSN shouldn’t be relegated to a ‘self-sustaining’ category when other institutions are slated to receive state subsidies for buildings, research, and upper division classes.
Every Nevada citizen should receive equal help in becoming productive citizens and self-sufficient workers.
CSN faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to help students successfully achieve their educational goals. And they have done so under unreasonable funding conditions. This is not just a perception; the Nevada legislature has repeatedly recognized this as a fact. In June of 2008 then Vice Chancellor Daniel Klaich and CSN President Mike Richards co-wrote a memo formally recognizing CSN’s historic underfunding and vowed to pursue equity payments from the legislature. Both men followed up with their promise during the 2009 legislative session and more than a few legislators responded by finding extra money for CSN despite bad economic conditions. Many of the same legislators again came to CSN’s aid in the 2011 legislative session and provided another infusion of equity funding.
But until now nothing of substance has been done to correct the underlying problems that lead to the underfunding.
Currently an interim legislative committee is studying Nevada’s higher education funding formula and will either recommend that the formula be revised or replaced. NSHE officials have proposed a new funding plan, but this proposal does not include any language on CSN’s underfunding nor does it specially ask that the legislature rectify its neglect of CSN’s students, faculty, and staff. Hopefully, as committee members review options for funding higher education, they will see fit to put CSN on a new course in which students, faculty, and staff receive the resources needed to be successful.
-James E. Rogers served as interim chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education for five years at no pay. An active supporter of education, he and his wife, Beverly, have made substantial financial contributions to various colleges and universities. Their gift of $1.5 million to the University of Arizona College of Law is the largest gift to the University of Arizona and the largest gift to any American law school. In November 1998, the Arizona Board of Regents renamed the University of Arizona college of Law James E. Rogers College of Law. Most recently, Rogers was listed as one of the top twelve philanthropists in the Nation by Time Magazine Active in all the communities in which Sunbelt has television stations, Rogers serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the University of Nevada, Engineering College in Reno, Nevada (to which he has given or pledged $750,000); is a member of the Dean’s Council of the UNLV College of Law in Las Vegas (to which he has given or pledged $28,500,000); and is a member and President-Elect of the Idaho State University Foundation in Pocatello, Idaho (to which he has given or pledged $20 million. Sunbelt has constructed a building on the campus of Great Basin Community College in Elko, Nevada at a cost to Sunbelt of approximately $1.25 million. This building houses an NBC station and a classroom for teaching communications.