June 18, 2020 Weekly Chronicle

Dear CSN Family,

This has been a historic week at CSN with many breaking news stories that have been years in development. 

The winds of social change are strong in America. Many changes are occurring as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement and the culmination of two historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings. After years of deliberation, today the Supreme Court ruled in support of continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As an immigrant myself, I am proud of the hard work of the many CSN DACA students, faculty, and staff who worked on this landmark decision. Secondly, on Monday the Court ruled to forbid job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. The ruling reaffirms the commitment to equal protection that every organization should strive to provide its employees. No one should fear for their job because of who they are, period.

It is with great appreciation that I report the good news that at a Special Board of Regents meeting earlier today, the board approved the CSN-NFA Collective Bargaining Agreement that has been years in development. This agreement will launch a new era of collaboration and shared governance at CSN. Kudos to the CSN faculty, the NFA and the CSN collective bargaining team. 

We also want to provide a warm CSN welcome to our new Chancellor Dr. Melody Rose. The NSHE Board of Regents unanimously approved the selection of Dr. Rose to the position of Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. She is an amazing higher education leader with previous experience as Chancellor of the Oregon Higher Education System. 

By way of personal news, last week the regents renewed my contract at CSN for another four years. I said when I arrived at CSN in 2018 that I am here to get the “student success” job done, and together we have made much progress to ensure that our students graduate, complete, transfer and prosper. I feel blessed to be your colleague and hope that you accept my heartfelt appreciation for your hard work on our collective journey to performance excellence and student success. 

Now I’d like to address our ongoing Return to Campus discussions. Many administrators are already on campus, and, as we reported to you last week, most employees will be transitioning back throughout the rest of the summer. When you do return to campus, you will notice several changes, such as signage, altered furniture placement to facilitate social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, and Plexiglass in student-facing service areas.

I want to note once again that face masks will be required for faculty, staff and students. You are encouraged to bring your own face mask or cloth covering to campus, though CSN can provide one if necessary. During the campus closure, all campus locations have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and going forward you will notice increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces with hospital-grade disinfectant.

Last week, I told you about the news from the governor’s office that there will be an approximately $900 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, and an anticipated $1.3 billion shortfall for the next fiscal year, which begins next month. That equates to a nearly 30 percent drop from expected appropriations. All state agencies, including CSN, had previously been asked to submit plans to cut next year’s budget by 14 percent. The governor asked for plans for another 5 percent cut and has called for a special legislative session.

CSN and our sister NSHE institutions submitted plans in April that called for hiring freezes, travel restrictions and other measures. At the direction of NSHE and the governor’s office, we will also implement furloughs of one day per month for all employees beginning July 1, which amounts to a 4.6 percent reduction in pay. While there will be no reductions in health care or retirement benefits, employees will not receive merit pay increases next year.  More news will be forthcoming from Human Resources.

You will also recall that Gov. Steve Sisolak called the state’s community colleges the “first responders” when it comes to rebooting our economy as we move through the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout. This week, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development awarded CSN a $2 million grant to help us retrain the region’s workforce for careers in the rapidly developing manufacturing, healthcare and information technology sectors.

This is wonderful news for our community. We will develop Rapid Response Centers that will retrain workers with the skills they need as the state diversifies its economy. You will hear much more on this initiative in the coming months as we fully develop the program.

This has been indeed been an historic week at CSN, for Nevada, and for the county. I am encouraged — and I hope that you are too — because we are moving forward and overcoming every challenge one at a time as a CSN family. We have much work ahead but know that we are in this together.   

Stay safe and God bless.

Federico Zaragoza
College of Southern Nevada

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