February Chronicle

The CSN Chronicle 

Greetings to all!  There is much activity on many fronts that I’d like you to know about.     

Black History Month

Yesterday, I enjoyed a wonderful scholarship brunch hosted by CSN and a number of our community partners at Texas Station.  Approximately $12,000 was raised for scholarships and programs at the college, and we had a chance to celebrate a number of our current scholarship recipients.  There are many other great events taking place at CSN, DRI and UNLV during this month.  A full calendar is available online here.

Work Climate Survey

Many faculty and staff participated in the recent work climate survey.  We asked for volunteers to work with leaders of our employee groups to review the findings and make recommendations to the administration.  We received over 80 responses.  Seeking breadth of input and a manageable size for the committee, the pool was reduced to about 20 individuals who are beginning the review process under the leadership of Professor Janice Glasper, as committee chair.  By the end of spring semester, we anticipate recommendations from the committee.   Typically, these kinds of surveys reveal positive observations and areas for improvement.  We intend to take the recommendations seriously.   The aggregate survey data will be posted on the IR web site.

At its special meeting on February 3, the Board of Regents directed that the Chancellor and campus presidents to develop plans and options for implementing the Executive Budget Recommendations.  I am working with Patricia Charlton, Senior Vice President for Finance and Facilities, to begin that process.  We will include the budget committee and budget reduction committee.The governor’s budget reduces state support for CSN by $26.7 million over the next two years, including a 5% salary roll back for all employees, and, of course, changes you have already heard about in retirement contribution rates and employee benefits. 


I’ve reported previously that the Board of Regents adopted an NSHE PLAN to empower colleges and universities to set and retain tuition and fee revenues, and it describes many more aspirations for the system of higher education.  The plan has been widely distributed and most legislators have received a copy and been introduced to its highlights.   We are now moving to the next level of specificity with the development of institutional performance metrics.    Institutional Research directors at all NSHE campuses are exploring “final” metrics, largely based on the standards of the National Governors Associations.  Here are the NGA’s 10 items:

  • Degrees and certificates awarded:  Annual number and percentage of certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees awarded.
  • Graduation rates:  number and percentage of certificate-or degree-seeking students who graduate within normal program time or extended time (three years for associates; six years for bachelors)
  • Transfer rates: annual number and percentage of students who transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution.
  • Time and credits to degree:  average length of time in years and average number of credits that graduating students took to earn a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree.
  • Enrollment in remedial education:  number and percentage of entering first-time undergraduate students who place into and enroll in remedial math, English, or both.
  • Success beyond remedial education:  number and percentage of first-time undergraduate students who complete a remedial education course in math, English or both and complete a college-level course in the same subject.
  • Success in first-year college courses:  annual number and percentage of entering first-time undergraduate students who complete entry college-level math and English courses within the first two consecutive academic years.
  • Credit accumulation:  number and percentage of first-time undergraduate students completing 24 credit hours (for full-time students) or 12 credit hours (for part-time students within their first academic year.
  • Retention rates:  number and percentage of entering undergraduate students who enroll consecutively from fall-to-spring and fall-to-fall at an institution of higher education.
  • Course completion:  percentage of credit hours completed out of those attempted during an academic year. 

The IR directors will finalize their work this spring.  We expect the new metrics to complement: 

  • Our new strategic plan, its success indicators, timelines, accountabilities, and reporting;
  • Our Project Graduation, which has identified 4,269 students with 45 hours or more who have not graduated and is directing them with interventions for specific advising;
  • Our steady increases in student financial aid.  The number of students receiving aid is up 42% in four years, and dollars awarded is up 165%, from $23 million in 2006-07 to $63 million in 2009-10;
  • Our part-time faculty conference planned for August 20, 2011; and
  • Our partnerships with CCSD to help students with developmental education and gifted/talented opportunities. 
In the third year of a president’s contract, the Board of Regents engages a “periodic evaluation” process pursuant to Board policy.  The process involves an external review and multiple interviews with faculty, staff, students, Foundation trustees and community members.  During the week of March 14, my evaluation will occur.  We will be telecasting the meetings of the evaluation committee, and there will be time slots available for public comment.  You will be hearing more about this as March 14th approaches.

Questions from Faculty and Staff Members: 

“What are your expectations with the work climate survey?”

CSN has long needed to improve its work climate.  We have excellent faculty and staff who do a remarkable job with students, and we truly excel at our mission in this community.  We should take justifiable pride in what we accomplish and how we scrape resources together to deliver quality learning and support.  Yet there are feelings of distrust and stagnation, and in the current fiscal environment there are many faculty and staff struggling and feeling undervalued.  The survey was intended to provide baseline information:  What needs improvement to help all employees feel valued and professionally satisfied with the way CSN operates?  I’ve deliberately kept the administration out of the process, because you need to help us.  You need to express your frustrations, as well as reflect on the positives at CSN.  I look forward to the committee’s recommendations.  If there are things the administration can do better, we will.  My expectation is positive change.  

 “How many students are enrolled spring semester?”

As of February 7, 2011, our headcount was 38,497 (up 0.5% over the same time last year) and our FTE was 21,024 (up 0.56%).    

Best regards to all. 

–Mike Richards

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