November Chronicle

November Chronicle

Greetings! This November Chronicle addresses three specific topics:  compensation, distance education and legislative advocacy.  I would ask you to take time to read this Chronicle carefully. It is critical that you understand what’s happening in these three salient arenas, provide feedback and get involved.

COMPENSATION:

  • The Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor’s four-year study of community college salary schedules:
    • Every four years a committee of faculty and staff from the four community colleges review the salary schedules and offer recommendations.
    • CSN’s Carolyn Collins, John Scarborough, Chuck Milne, Patty Charlton and others have been actively engaged in this process.
    • It has become increasingly clear that past model is not sufficient, and in fact, it has allowed the community college salary median to fall from 83.3% of the university median to 71.5% currently.
    • For the November 9 meeting of the Faculty Senate, I have prepared the statement that follows in support of the committee’s recommendations.
  • Of concern to all faculty and staff, the Governor’s initial direction for preparing 2013-15 budget requests
    • All state agencies, including NSHE, initially received directions to submit a budget request this fall to the Governor’s Office that restored salaries to their base level (i.e. eliminated salary cuts and furloughs)  – an action estimate at about $100 million in additional expense for the state.
  • The Governor’s change of mind:
    • Due to other statewide needs, including health and social services, the governor has recently said he will not include the salary restoration in the executive budget and will let the Legislature act on this issue. 
    • This position diminishes the prospect of restoring salaries to the base.
  • The PEBP benefit study:
    • NSHE Vice Chancellor Renee Yackira and UNLV Senior Vice President of Finance & Business Gerry Bomotti have worked with the PEBP board on improvements to health benefits for system employees. 
    • For the next fiscal year, the PEBP Board approved a mid-tier PPO option that will be available to employees next year.  
    • The Chancellor also established a committee to review benefit options.
    • A consultant’s report, a result of the committee’s work, will be released later this year.

Where I stand:  Regarding the revised salary schedule.  My position from the beginning favored aggressive indexing.  I also favored removing the steps, turning the schedule 90 degrees, if you will, and developing salary ranges.  I realize this changes salary administration and requires CSN to address, quite appropriately, the equity and compression issues that have accumulated in the past five years.  But, in the end, our employees should have more flexibility in the schedule, a benchmark much higher than the current schedule offers, and a compression plan.  I applaud the work of CSN’s representatives on the salary committee and remain hopeful that a four-institution solution can be presented to the Board of Regents.

Regarding the Governor’s decision not to include salary restorations in his executive budget, I see this as a setback.  You may recall my priorities for the 2013 session were two items:  salary restoration and new formula adoption.  These remain my priorities. But CSN and other institutions will need to muster more focused legislative advocacy in order to succeed. This is where you must be involved. I discuss this more below. 

I applaud the recent PEBP changes, which reflect the hard work of many, many folks who continue to strive to improve the employee benefits plan.  Much still needs to be done for a more competitive model, but the mid-tier option PPO will help our people.  A key unknown that remains an issue for many states, including Nevada, is “Obamacare,” including the implementation of an individual mandate, state/federal healthcare exchanges and a potential Medicaid expansion.  Time will tell what this means for our state; we are watching closely. 

Statement to the CSN Faculty Senate

Community College Salary Schedule Methodology Review

November 6, 2012 

At the November 9, 2012 meeting of the CSN Faculty Senate, the update of the salary schedule for Nevada’s community colleges will be on the agenda for discussion and possible action. 

The update is the work of a system-wide committee of faculty and staff appointed by Chancellor Klaich pursuant to policies of the Board of Regents requiring a methodology review every four years.  The committee’s recommendations have been shared with all CSN faculty members.  I have also shared the committee’s work in my periodic communications to all CSN employees since the committee began deliberations last spring.  

I support the committee’s recommendations for indexing, for creating salary ranges, for flexibility by removing steps, for phased implementation, for addressing equity and compression issues, and for laying groundwork for future studies of methodology.  

Implementation of the new methodology is complicated by the lack of employee compensation for the past five years during which new employees were hired.  Clearly, compensation for existing employees has not kept pace during tough economic times in the state.  As a result, I will retain a third-party vendor who specializes in compensation issues to provide recommendations on implementation and on addressing equity and compression.  I have shared this approach with the Chair of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Charles Milne, and with CSN’s faculty representative on the methodology review committee, Professor Carolyn Collins.   Once the new model is adopted by the Board of Regents, CSN will engage the consultant. 

Salary obligations, however, are not exclusive to teaching faculty.  Salaries for CSN’s administrative faculty and staff have been retarded by recessionary times.   I will also task the compensation consultant to include all non-classified employees/salaries in the analysis and recommendations, for there are equity and compression issues among non-teaching faculty and staff as well. 

Now, I’m hopeful that the committee’s methodology review and recommendations are received by the Faculty Senate as an essential first-step in positioning CSN for better compensation and fairer salary administration.  I applaud the work of the committee and the leadership that came from CSN in this important NSHE process.  I urge the Senate to debate the proposal for clear understanding of its provisions, and then adopt it as a pathway for the future. 

Thank you for your thoughtful work as members of the Senate and as part of the governing team of CSN. 

Sincerely, 

Michael D. Richards, President

College of Southern Nevada 

 DISTANCE EDUCATION

  • NSHE has contracted with Richard Katz & Associates to look at the state’s eLearning programs, to reconcile what they’ve learned with best practices and to recommend investments and approaches to the Chancellor and Board of Regents.
  • The Chancellor has sent an email to all NSHE staff asking for your input on the future of online or distance education in Nevada.  A few of our faculty have provided input both to the Chancellor and to Dr. Katz.  Thank you.
  • In that same email, the Chancellor outlined the need for a review of eLearning for the following reasons: the proposed funding formula will reduce the premium funding for DE classes; there is a need to address the emergence of massive open online courses or MOOCs; the maturation of online education and development of new and standard practices; and the changing cost structure in higher education.
  • The Chancellor has expressed his hope that the Katz review will help Nevada institutions work more collaboratively, enhance statewide access and build on the hard work and dedication of our faculty.
  • He has asked that you send your questions, concerns and advice to (jane_nichols@nshe.nevada.edu) or Richard (richard.n.katz@gmail.com)

Where I stand: Myriad issues surrounding distance education will be salient for higher education and CSN in the next decade.  Concern about the Katz report is the most immediate of issues for CSN and NSHE, but other aspects are on the horizon.  I continue to advocate that CSN’s Online Campus, with more than 900 online class sections offered, more than 13,000 students enrolled and 28 online degree and certificate programs, is Nevada’s virtual college.

Nevada heavily uses CSN’s online campus to obtain education and training.  The college, and in particular, our faculty, have invested immense resources in the success and quality of these programs.  As Dr. Katz and his team initiate recommendations to shape or re-shape DE, CSN faculty input becomes essential.  Please share your perspective.

A senior faculty member shared with Dr. Katz and others a Wall Street Journal article well worth reading.  The effectiveness and variety of online course delivery described in the article and the complexity of DE issues prompts a suggestion that some format be developed internally at CSN to debate Dr. Katz report and recommendations.  The Faculty Senate is always a good place to start. 

LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

  • I note that some employees have concluded that the Great Recession is over, salaries will be restored, a new salary schedule will be adopted, along with a new funding formula that benefits CSN and that the Legislature will be generous.
  • Please keep your expectations realistic.  Be cautious. 

 

Where I stand:  CSN and the system have considerable ground to cover before June when legislative decisions will be made for the next two fiscal years.  There is very limited new money, and there are many, many unknowns.  My own expectations are modest:  salaries to the base and adopt the new formula.  Anything else would surprise me.  Nevada has not completely emerged from this terrible recession. 

Although recent legislative sessions have had a CSN liaison or representative, our most effective advocacy has always come from faculty and staff communications, and student initiatives that include treks to Carson City.  With the election over, CSN can begin formulating strategies for the 2013 legislature session. 

We owe gratitude for advocacy planning in past years, led by faculty and staff leaders, student government and CSN General Counsel Richard Hinckley, that helped communicate NSHE and CSN messages.  For the 2013 session, Constance Brooks will be in Carson City on behalf of both NSHE and CSN since the system’s priorities and CSN’s are tightly aligned with the same top priorities to restore salaries to the base and urge the adoption of the proposed funding formula.

I’m working with Constance, Patty Charlton, KC Brekken and others on a plan that will roll out in January. More information will be forthcoming on how you can get involved.   

Please do not hesitate to contact me or some of the faculty and staff leaders mentioned here if you have further questions or concerns. Again, I urge you to learn all you can about these three issues which will greatly impact the CSN community in the near future.  Please be as involved as you can.  I extend a special invitation to those who have not always agreed with me, or NSHE leadership.  On these pressing issues, your input and ideas matter to me and to the future of this college.

Lastly, may I remind you that on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 6 p.m. at Texas Station we have our “out-of-this-world” holiday party.  Announcements about the party are already being circulated.  I hope you can join us!

Sincerely,

Mike

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