Academic quality and research commitment guide University's budget plan

1/3/2008 - By: Jane Tors

A special meeting of the Nevada Board of Regents will be convened Monday, Jan. 7 in Las Vegas for review of budget reduction plans mandated for the Nevada System of Higher Education and the eight NSHE institutions including the University of Nevada, Reno. A commitment to "protect the University's core missions; instruction and research" guided development of the University's plan, said President Milt Glick. "Our goal is to maintain and enhance the quality and integrity of our academic and research programs and to provide students with access to the courses they need to make progress toward graduation," said Glick. "It is important to note that class access will be maintained and, in fact, enhanced." The University began the year with a budget deficit of approximately $6 million. This shortfall resulted from a combination of factors and preceded the call from Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons for an additional 4.5 percent reduction. This mandated reduction of approximately $18 million combined with the initial $6 million shortfall results in a total of $24 million over the biennium to be reduced or reallocated. "As we have addressed this issue, I have been enormously impressed by the input and leadership by faculty, staff, students and administration," he said. "The level of commitment demonstrated leaves me even more confident that this University will be a stronger university in two years, prepared to more completely fulfill our teaching and research mission and our responsibility to serve the educational needs of the state." The budget plan submitted to Regents by Glick includes input from deans, vice presidents, faculty representatives and student leaders. It also includes what Glick calls "very difficult decisions," including: * Delay the opening of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center until no later than July 1, 2009. While not optimal, this action helps protect the core mission of the institution and, by saving an estimated $2 million, avoid large-scale employee layoffs and deep cuts in instructional operating budgets. Library operations will remain in their current location and the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center will be opened when the facility can be appropriately staffed and operated. * College of Health and Human Sciences will no longer exist as a separate college as of July 1, 2008; all of the college's programs will be integrated into appropriate divisions of the University. John McDonald, vice president for health sciences, will oversee the Orvis School of Nursing and the School of Public Health, in addition to the School of Medicine and other academic units. The plan notes this reorganization is driven by the recognition that optimal health science and health-related care is provided by multidisciplinary teams - nurses, public health professionals, social workers, pharmacists, therapists, physicians and others - who train and work together, focusing on meeting patients' needs. In addition, the new emphasis on translational research makes this an opportunity for the growth of new research programs. Faculty and staff of the college will be engaged in discussions to determine future reporting relationships of other Health and Human Sciences programs. * Deferral of faculty and administrator merit for six months in fiscal year 2009. The leadership of the Faculty Senate, along with the University's chapter of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, recommended this action which is estimated to save $1 million "for the integrity of the institution and its academic programs." This means that any merit awarded as of July 1, 2008, would be implemented on Jan. 1, 2009. There is no impact to the COLA program. * Base reductions to administrative units. Each of the five administrative vice presidents (Administration and Finance, Information Technology, Student Services, Development and Alumni Relations, and Research) will reduce their base budgets by $375,000 over the biennium. * Implement a $5 per-credit hour tuition surcharge beginning fall 2008. ASUN Senate and GSA leadership have endorsed implementation of a surcharge equivalent to $5 per-credit per semester for three semesters. The students also plan to bring a proposal to the Board by April 2008 for a special fee for ASUN/student activities. The full budget plan is available on the President's web site. Glick will host an informal discussion of the budget plan Friday, Jan. 4, from 10 to 11:15 a.m., in Room 2023 of the William Raggio Building, and an additional Town Hall meeting has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14, 1:30-3 p.m. in the Joe Crowley Student Union theatre. Glick also invites faculty and staff to contact him with concerns, ideas and feedback at glick@unr.edu. "Meeting this mandate is a challenge, particularly mid-year," said Glick in a letter to University colleagues. "I want to thank all of you for joining me in meeting this challenge. We have more work to do to protect - and more important, enhance - the quality of our academic programs."


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