December 2013 Chronicle


Holiday greetings to all!  This is the last Chronicle for 2013 and I’ve dedicated most of it to money issues. 

Please Note:  During January, I will again hold roundtable meetings on each campus.  You will be e-mailed an invitation shortly.  We can discuss any of the following topics as well as other issues you may wish to raise. 

Salary Equity and Compression

As you may know, a study of CSN’s salary equity and compression challenge has been underway during fall semester.  The final report is expected in January.  A large group of faculty and staff have participated in the process, coordinated by John Scarborough in Human Resources.  I have been kept informed of the study’s progress, and I remain committed to resolving equity and compression issues. Although a phased approach may be needed, we won’t know that until the final report is submitted and analyzed. 

Anticipating a solution, funding to address faculty and staff equity and compression issues was earmarked at the beginning of this fiscal year.  We will use it, disbursing it in revised contracts as expeditiously as possible. You will receive advance notice before this occurs. 

It is important to know that this project does not mean that everyone will have an adjusted contract.  The study’s singular focus and my intent is to address fairly and squarely equity and compression problems that emerged during years of salary freezes and rollback during the recession.  Should you have questions about the study or its objectives, please ask – Faculty Senate Chair Darin Dockstader. Employee involvement and transparency are critical to success.

Financial Aid

This week past week we updated the Board of Regents on financial aid issues with the following information.

CSN is moving forward on overhauling the CSN Financial Aid Department, following the problems with verification discovered this past academic year.  We are currently awaiting the final report from Evans Consulting.  Following its assessment, Evans’ staff will make recommendations in the areas of organizational structure, process and policies and technology.

Once we receive the final report, we will create an implementation plan. As part of that, we expect to be able to effectively evaluate additional staff positions and operations. We know we will need to develop our services in terms of financial aid literacy and financial aid counseling. We will also begin a search for a new director of financial aid.

We know we will need to develop a comprehensive and ongoing professional development and financial aid training program to ensure CSN staff have the latest information about complex financial regulations.

On that note, I would like to highlight the very large contingent of CSN employees who attended the U.S. Department of Education 2013 FSA Training Conference this week, which was conveniently held in Las Vegas and free. The conference, which featured a keynote by Secretary Arne Duncan, provided four days of valuable information on every aspect of financial aid services for higher education institutions. 

Lastly, we will continue to outsource the verification process for the files that the federal government asks us to double check. This is not uncommon for a college of our size. Through outsourcing this process, we can immediately secure quality assurance while we work to overhaul the department. 

Tech Connection is Jan. 15 at the Cheyenne campus. Registration is limited. Please sign up at:

I encourage everyone to come out and see the many vendors showing off what’s new in classroom technology, attend informative breakout sessions and hear about important technology topics from Senior Vice President of Cisco Patrick Finn and Executive Vice President of Switch, Missy Young.  I hope to see everyone there! 

Official invitation: 

 Budget Request for 2015-17

Later this month, CSN will present to the Chancellor its budget request for the 2015-17 Legislature. That request will include the following priorities:

  • Fund the face value of contracts such that furloughs are eliminated.  This is CSN’s top priority.
  • Increase the dollars per Weighted Student Credit Hour that we receive for each student who completes a course in the funding formula to begin to replace funding cuts that occurred during the recession.
  • Increase funding for PEBP to improve employee benefits and health options.
  • Allow institutions to truly keep tuition revenues without having to ask the state for them. 

There is likely to be few capital dollars, although CSN needs urgent funding for deferred maintenance priorities.  There is also likely to be no enhancement funding for new initiatives, although such funding would benefit the state and our community.  

Tuition/Fee Increases

The NSHE Tuition and Fees Committee is recommending a 4 percent increase in registration fees for resident students for FY 2015 and in each of four years thereafter.   Hearings with students on the recommendation will occur during January and February.  The Board of Regents will act on the recommendation, however it may be modified, at its March meeting.  

Preliminarily, CSN plans to use revenues from the proposed fee increase as follows: 

  • Scholarships and need-based financial aid;
  • Staffing in Student Affairs;
  • Improving our full- and part-time ratio with more full-time faculty; and
  • Enhancing advising and academic support services.

Formula, AtD, CCA Convergence

With Achieving the Dream, CSN has laid out a constructive plan and timeline to improve completion rates and retention with deliberate actions that, in turn, complement the Complete College America (CCA) goals Nevada has adopted, and that, in turn, complement CSN’s position under the new funding formula where course completions and performance metrics yield funding.  (Take a breath after that sentence.) There is a fusion of relationships here that I’d like all faculty and staff to see.  Initiatives CSN has adopted and that faculty are engaging interrelate for greater student success and improved funding under the new formula.  I’m so very pleased with the work of faculty on streamlining developmental education—it’s great work!  I’m so very pleased with the faculty and staff efforts to improve student matriculation by removing barriers to success!  Thank you, all, and please keep up the good work!  You are making a transformative difference for our students!

Questions from Faculty and Staff Members:

“What is the status in ACT testing?”

In 2011, the Board of Regents approved a resolution urging the State of Nevada and district superintendents of public K-12 instruction to adopt the statewide administration of the ACT test for all high school students in their junior year.  This action was reaffirmed in 2013 by all NSHE presidents.  However, NSHE staff also wish to explore the SBAC test and have established a committee of institutional representatives for that purpose.  State superintendents still support the ACT test.  Under provisions of AB288 passed during the 2013 legislative session, a decision by the school districts must be made by 2015.  Ideally this assessment would replace the Nevada High School Proficiency Exam. 

“What is the status of the community college interim study?”

You may recall that the Legislature authorized a study to examine governance and financing of Nevada’s four community colleges.  A committee comprised of six legislators is conducting the study.  Senator Joyce Woodhouse will chair the committee.  The work of the committee is expected to start in January and extend to June 2014.  Recommendations will be submitted to the 2015 Legislature.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

 –Mike Richards

This entry was posted in Monthly Chronicles. Bookmark the permalink.