October Chronicle

The CSN Chronicle

Greetings to all!  I hope your semester is going well. There are a number of activities I’d like you to know about.     

CSN Cheyenne Campus

Accreditation Visit
You may recall that the regional accreditation process now includes annual reports and a series of visits.  CSN is in the Year Three cycle, so this year we filed and extensive report on specific accreditation standards, and this past week we hosted a team visit.  Dr. Hyla Winters led a committee effort to prepare the report and host the visitors.  Although we will see more specifics on the three recommendations when the written report is submitted, I’d like to dwell on the four commendations.   As stated in the e-mail I sent out last Wednesday, the commendations were: shared governance, community partnerships, HR access and website, and library resources and website.  These four commendations illustrate years of work by many, many people.  The CSN shared governance model works well for such a large institutions with so many stakeholders.  This is a credit to our faculty and staff leaders year in and year out.  DWED’s tireless work with community partners and the work in academics on our relationships with CCSD were recognized.  The improvements made in Human Resources with service, information and a new website are a tribute to the dedicated staff in this key office.  And for students, faculty, and staff, our library resources, services, and web-based features are, indeed, exemplary.  It gives me great pleasure to call everyone’s attention to the excellence occurring around us.  To the capable and talented faculty and staff who make CSN such an outstanding institution.  Thank you all!

Accreditation Recommendations
As expected, the NWCCU team also pointed out areas that need improvement before the next accreditation review. The team will have recommendations regarding our need to further develop program outcomes and assessment. They will also have recommendations on how to address audit findings and other challenges within our financial aid area and regarding our lack of private space and limited staff in student support services. I feel comfortable with these recommendations since we’re already working on several of them.  This won’t be the last time you hear about them.  

The commission is expected to vote in January on CSN’s accreditation status, following a thorough report from the NWCCU team.  Our Year Seven visit, a more extensive review of compliance, will also include an examination of the recommendations. 

Salary Recommendations
Every four years the Chancellor appoints a group of faculty and staff to review the community college salary schedule and offer recommendations.  The report from this year’s review is available here.  I want to thank Carolyn Collins and John Scarborough for representing CSN in this important process.  In my mind it is critical that salaries be indexed properly — 83.3% is much more appropriate than the current 71% — and that greater flexibility be gained by removal of the steps.  I strongly supported the indexing (although wanted a higher percentage) and the removal of the steps.  The recommendations of the salary committee position the College for future funding and for equity/compression solutions.  Now we just need healthy appropriations for compensation.

Salary Prospects for the Next Biennium

This summer, Gov. Sandoval directed that budget requests from state agencies, including NSHE, for the 2013-15 biennium include salaries funded at the base and omit furloughs.  This action would have restored the nearly 5% pay cut to all state workers.  Now, however, he has decided to not include this in his budget recommendations.  Rather, salary issues will be a matter for the Legislature.  There is no real good news in this.  It means our legislative advocacy for the funding formula must also include an advocacy plan for base salaries and the elimination of the furloughs.    

Texas Station will be the site for our annual Holiday Party on Thursday, Dec. 6.  Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for this wonderful celebration.

Distance Education 
In the next few weeks, we should see a draft of Dr. Katz’s recommendation regarding distance education in Nevada.  As I talk to our faculty, I know there are many concerns about where the Katz report might lead us institutionally and as a system.  The leadership of the Faculty Senate and I discuss this matter often.  So much of what we do at CSN is linked to distance education that the report is likely to impact us. I will share it with you when I receive it. 

The Hungry Games Softball Tournament and BBQ is a CSN family event at the Henderson campus.  It’s a time for good food, games for children of all ages, and for socializing.  So that we know how much food to prepare, please RSVP and plan to join us on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 Questions from Faculty and Staff Members: 

“How many students are enrolled this semester?”

Our official census date was Oct. 15. CSN has a 37,516 student headcount this semester, a 2.5% decrease from last fall. As for FTE, CSN has 19,536.6, a 3.4% drop from last fall. The decline in enrollment is not unexpected. We suspected the new payment due date on June 1 and the slow stabilization of the economy nationwide (although it’s hard to see evidence of that here) would diminish the robust enrollment growth that CSN experienced in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Great Recession likely gave CSN an artificial bump in enrollment as people lost their jobs and came back to school for new skills. 

“What are the ‘President’s Forums’?”

As you know, we have multiple heritage months throughout the academic year.  We start with Hispanic Heritage month in October, followed by Native American Heritage Month and International Education Week in November, Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March and Asian/Pacific Islander Month in April.  In the past, the heritage months have included some terrific cultural awareness events. This year, I would like to add to this with some events that are designed specifically for faculty and staff to generate meaningful discussions on how to better serve these and other underrepresented student groups. So this year, I added a President’s Forum on Student Success, a two-hour discussion of how we can help students succeed.  I plan to do one for each major heritage month and for Women’s History Month.  The first one will take place Nov. 8 at the Cheyenne campus in the Telecommunications Auditorium at 2 p.m. 

The following is an example of the questions we should begin to ask ourselves: 

  • Nationally, we are losing many Hispanic and African-American males.  They are dropping out of education.  What are they doing?  How can we help them stay engaged?
  • In Nevada, Asian students are generally well prepared for higher education, but, although we offer scholarships and match financial aid, these students are leaving the state in large numbers.  How can we help them stay, get their education here and contribute to Nevada?
  • Urban and rural Native Americans have unique learning challenges.  How can we help them more effectively?
  • Women, particularly single mothers,  also have unique needs.  Can we package our financial aid to better help them attend full-time or create more flexible course schedules that meet their needs? 

Anyway, the idea is to discuss internally, among our faculty and staff, ways we can help students be more successful.  The format is straight forward:  a review of our data by the IR staff, a guest speaker, and a discussion leading to action steps. I hope you will participate in each of these. 

“What is the performance pool for community colleges?”

Since early in 2010, national and state attention to certificate and degree completion has eclipsed other metrics for understanding the success of community colleges.  Many states are adding a performance dimension to higher education funding.  Nevada wants to adopt a similar model beginning in FY 2015 and have 5% of the general fund appropriation linked to performance metrics.  The 5% would increase each fiscal year until a 20% cap is reached.  Regent Jason Geddes, chair of the Board of Regents, has appointed a committee to complete work on performance metrics, segmented by institution type.  The recommendations of this committee will be submitted to the Legislature for action early next year. I will report on this as more information becomes available. 

Best regards to all.

–Mike Richards

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