November/December 2015 Chronicle
Greetings and welcome to the November/December Chronicle. I know how busy you are this time of year and so I present to you a combined Chronicle to provide you with a lot of good information about our budget, future events and more. Please review this information and share it with others.
Jan. 15, 2016 CSN Town Hall
As part of spring convocation, I will hold a town hall at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 at the Nicholas J. Horn Theatre where I look forward to having a meaningful discussion with you about CSN’s strategic direction, our budget, and our size and manageability. Please put this on your calendar and plan to attend. This will be an important conversation on three issues that will dominate 2016.
We are starting a seven-year cycle of planning and accountability. The mission, vision, values, goals and objectives of CSN will be under review and development. I would like all faculty and staff to engage in this process—either actively participating or just knowing what lies ahead for CSN and Nevada.
Earlier this month, I announced that CSN must cut 15 percent or $1.8 million from operating budgets due to lower-than-expected tuition and fee dollars this academic year. Although our budget is funded largely by completions, CSN’s revenues from student tuition and fees are down as a result of lower-than-anticipated fall enrollment (-3.6 percent FTE from fall 2014). This is not easy and I want to thank all of you for the time and effort to cut more from already lean operations.
The 15 percent reductions are harder to make because of cuts we have already experienced. You may recall that the unearned “F” grade and other issues were reflected in CSN’s appropriation at the start of fiscal year 2016. The appropriation included a $1.1 million reduction from our base budget for each fiscal year to account for fewer completed credit hours and a loss of $1.7 million for each fiscal year due to the elimination of funding for the unearned “F” grade.
You should know that in anticipation of budget challenges at the beginning of this fiscal year, CSN cut 26 unfilled FTE positions. However, to keep our commitment to students, CSN continues the hiring process for key positions.
I also want to highlight the faculty who are volunteering to tutor students during Thanksgiving and Finals Week to supplement our Centers for Academic Success. This is an extraordinary time of need and we are all grateful to those who take personal time to help our students.
You also need to know what CSN is requesting for the 2017 legislative session, both for operating and capital budget enhancements. (See Budget Cuts section of my October Chronicle.)
Manageability and Consolidated Services
Even with enrollment down, CSN is still the biggest higher education institution in Nevada and one of the biggest community colleges in the nation. Periodically, Regents have asked about CSN’s size, projected enrollment, response to growth in the Las Vegas valley and its manageability. At the same time, there is a continuing goal of wringing efficiencies from NSHE and its institutions through shared services. We may need to consider different structures to improve manageability. I plan to describe these issues at the town hall on Jan. 15, including the feasibility of a consolidation of police services.
Potential Police Consolidation
In December, the Board of Regents will consider the consolidation of police for UNR, TMCC and DRI and there have been discussions to implement a similar partnership here among the southern institutions. Safety and security are a top concern at CSN, as it is at UNLV and NSC. This spring, we will conduct a review of costs and ability to assess potential savings in the south.
Please take time on January 15 to attend the Town Hall and to learn more about CSN’s direction, budget, and management.
Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The CSN Native American Alliance, chaired by Dr. Sondra Cosgrove, presented multiple events during the month of November with two movie screenings “Reel Injun” and “We are people, not mascots” followed by a discussion lead by Dr. Chad Waucaush. Other events included Native Days activities included delicious fry bread, followed by presentations on science, pollution and solar power on Native American reservations and making Gold Butte a national monument. Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people to our community.
International Education Week
Every third week in November is International Education Week which is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This year, the Comprehensive Internationalization Committee of CSN chaired by Dr. Lester Tanaka presented a full lineup of events to help promote programming that prepares our students for a global environment. Events included a panel discussion pertaining to international students’ CSN experience, the new black market of human trafficking and a poster presentation highlighting water usage, plastic waste and drought effects around the world. The highlight of the week was Ambassador Day, in which students and staff put together booths, representing various cultures and cuisines.
Institutional Advisory Council Update
Our Institutional Advisory Council continues to meet quarterly now. You can find the next meeting dates here. At the November meeting, the Council voted to create two ad hoc subcommittees: A curriculum and career alignment subcommittee will look at Burning Glass data to examine how CSN program and course offerings match local and regional employment demands and a metric subcommittee will create recommendations on how to measure the Council’s performance and success. Those subcommittees will also be subject to the Nevada Open Meeting Law and all agendas and materials will be housed permanently on the CSN website at www.csn.edu/IAC.
On Nov. 30, the Board of Regents Committee on Community Colleges will meet and vote on the IAC’s campus naming policy recommendation. I am extremely grateful to the Council for its time and effort in deliberating the policy. I intend to recommend a compromise as described in this briefing.
CSN leadership is exploring an add/drop modification during the first week of the spring semester. That decision has not yet been made and there are many steps and areas of the college that must first review this concept before any change can occur. The goal is to balance the need for access with processes that incite student success and course completion. We are considering providing flexibility to allow students who, for instance, sit through one class, know they will not succeed, and want to enroll in a different one in which they feel more confident. We also want to ensure students and faculty have the ability to fully engage in learning from day one.
You will be informed at once if we make any changes to this policy.
We are planning exciting enhancements to the student registration experience in the future, including the activation of a wait list function in MyCSN. This will allow students who want a specific course at a specific time on a specific campus to be put on a wait list for that section. Certain departments are experimenting with wait listing this spring.
New Switch Partnership
CSN is partnering with Switch to build an HVAC program that will train the next generation of Switch technicians to manage the temperature-control needs of the company’s hundreds of servers and expanding Nevada operations.
The company has agreed to hire eight CSN students as intern technicians each year. Upon completion of the Associate of Applied Science in HVAC, Switch will then hire these students. Switch will also send existing HVAC technicians through the degree-program to build their next level of supervisors. This program will include general education courses at the company’s Innovation Center in Las Vegas that will be open to Switch and CSN students. Communication and customer service classes will be the first offerings at this location in fall 2016, followed by English and math in the spring. In addition, Switch will provide eight internships to CSN HVAC students.
Congratulations to CSN Chief Information Officer Mugunth Vaithylingam, who was named among the top 10 best Las Vegas tech executives at the Top Tech Exec Awards ceremony on Nov. 19. Mugunth was nominated among more than 50 of the best corporate, public and nonprofit CIOs in the Las Vegas valley. We are fortunate to have him leading our Office of Technology Services. Thank you Mugunth and you terrific team for all you do to help students, faculty and staff succeed.
Faculty & Staff Questions
“Outside of a holiday party, what is CSN going to do to ensure that employees feel appreciated?”
The holiday party, which is sponsored in part by the CSN Foundation, is a tradition at CSN that we strive to continue every year to bring people together to socialize. We will also continue the classified luncheon, the CSN Reflections Magazine at the end of the year to highlight employee successes, the Distinguished and Excellence employee awards at Convocation, the retirees’ luncheon and all of the wonderful work conducted through our Internal Recognition Committee.
“With budget cuts looming, what is CSN’s primary focus to increase our student enrollment that has steadily declined for the last 5 years? What can employees do to assist with this increase and how can you ensure everyone’s suggestions are given due consideration?”
As our economy continues to improve and unemployment decreases, CSN’s enrollment has declined, like many other community colleges around the nation. Student enrollment and completion is everyone’s responsibility. You play a role in the growing number of students we graduate, in our recent status and recognition as a Hispanic and minority serving institution, our high licensure exam passage rates and the pristine graduation rate of our CSN high schools. You are CSN ambassadors.
In terms of ensuring everyone’s suggestions are given due consideration, CSN is a shared governance institution and we have twice now received accolades from our accrediting body for our thriving model of shared governance. This means that classified, administrative and faculty employee groups help create and improve our policies and processes. You can participate in influencing the future of CSN through the committee process and by providing feedback through the Work Climate Committee’s PACE and Snap Shot surveys. I am proud of the fact that CSN employees have a reputation among Nevada policymakers as outspoken advocates, who never shy away from challenging the status quo. Apart from that, I’m exploring technological solutions to ensure that this isn’t a top-down management environment so that frontline employees, serving our community, can articulate the problems they see to executive administration. We hope to unveil some of these solutions in the near future.
“It feels that classified employees’ job duties continue to increase without additional compensation, including the new P-card process, HR functions and so forth. How can we improve the balance between what some perceive as ever-increasing work requirements and little to no growth in compensation?”
I would like to preface these comments by noting that Board of Regents Chair Rick Trachok recently stated in a letter to the Review-Journal, his intention that Nevada higher education, “become more efficient and more responsive to our overall mission of student success.” He is leading this effort by calling for institutions to reduce administrative costs and direct more funding into instruction. As I discussed above, CSN is also cutting its current fiscal year budget due to lower-than-anticipated revenues and we are doing everything we can to protect the student experience. This is a time, when we must focus our efforts positively on how to eliminate redundant processes, costly paper and printing, travel and so forth. If you have a suggestion, please bring it forward to your supervisor and participate in Work Climate surveys that address these issues. This is an innovative institution filled with employees dedicated to our mission. I am confident we can keep our momentum on student success going with your energy and passion for our students.
As we wrap up this semester, stay healthy and enjoy your students, colleagues, family and friends. I look forward to seeing you at the holiday party, convocation week and at the Jan. 15 town hall at the Horn!