March Chronicle

Greetings to all! There is much activity on many fronts that I’d like you to know about.
 
Provost Position and Search
 
Six candidates were interviewed for the position of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. As a result of the interviews and CSN’s circumstances, I determined that the provost title and supervisory assignments outside academics would be dropped from the position. All six candidates were notified of the change. At the same time, an executive search firm was retained to assess and provide input on the candidates. I have completed a second round of interviews with two of the candidates. My timeline for closure has been mid-March, but I’ll save an announcement until spring break is over and we’re back to work. Concluding this search has been of primary importance to me over the past six weeks.
 
Meritas LLC approached CSN in the last few months about the potential acquisition of its Henderson International high school facility, located at 1165 Sandy Ridge Ave. CSN briefly explored the site’s potential to help meet its expanding demand for services throughout Southern Nevada. But we have determined not to move forward in this direction at this time.
 
Budget Status
 
As the Special Session of the Legislature closed, it became clear that the operating budget cut would be reduced to about 7% and a four-ten workweek would be implemented. We were grateful to the Legislature and to the governor that more extreme budget cuts were not required. Last week, the governor vetoed the bill requiring a four-ten workweek — also to our collective relief. We are now moving forward with a plan to reduce the operating budget. We will cut nearly $2 million from the budget in this current fiscal year and about $6 million for the next fiscal year.
 
As we prepare to make these cuts, I want to step back for a moment to commend all of our employees — classified, administration, and faculty — for your patience, advocacy, and long-suffering. We’ve been on a roller coaster of uncertainty. The ride is slowing, but it is not over. Media reports of open issues affecting the revised budget need resolution as we also plan for the next academic year. Thank you for sticking with us, sharing your concerns and stories with legislators, and helping students have a quality CSN experience. Of special note, too, were student efforts to save our budgte and our school. Our student leaders were wonderful! We have the most passionate students in the state who truly understand the significance of an education and the opportunities it can provide.
 
We continue to watch statewide developments that may impact the close of this fiscal year and our planning for the next. We will share any new developments.
 
Now we’re going to move forward with a reduction plan that, again, preserves our mission to the fullest extent possible. The plan will be presented at a special meeting of the Board of Regents on April 16th. We will draw on our $1.2 million reserve as a starting point and build the plan from there. When drafted in final form, after consultation with our employee groups and budget reduction committees, we’ll post it on our Budget Issues site, located on our home page.
 
More difficult to address is the budget picture for FY 2011. I expect another mid-year budget cut and a very difficult legislative session next spring. So, as has become our habit, we will involve faculty, staff and students in our deliberative processes, and we will focus on protecting our institutional mission. The plan for FY 2011 will take more time and input to detail, but we’ll start on the process.
 
Thanks to our facilities staff for monitoring our constructions projects! A new access road is under construction on the West Charleston campus to move traffic more smoothly and safely into/out of parking areas. Work is proceeding on the fire station and the addition to the Engelstad Health Sciences Building. The additional parking area at the Henderson campus has been completed, relieving some pressures there, and the science lab project at Cheyenne is moving through the design process.
 
Questions from Faculty and Staff Members:
 
“How many students are enrolled this semester?”
Our official census date is March 15th, but the last numbers I saw — a day ago — showed 43,799 headcount (up 7.4% over the same time last year) and 22,295 FTE (up 6.4%).
 
“What is CSN’s response to the governor’s plans for higher education?”
Conceptually, we are in favor of the proposals, but all will require public input and legislative action. Institutions in NSHE have wanted more flexibility and autonomy for some time, and we have shared our concerns with leaders in both political parties. It’s important that those funds stay at the campus generating the revenue. Our experience with the State Public Works Board and staff, while cordial and professional, has resulted in increased costs for capital projects. We believe money can be saved if CSN controls the design, procurement and construction process.
 
Best regards to all.
 
— Mike Richards
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