January Chronicle

Greetings, Happy New Year!  Welcome to spring semester 2012 and to The CSN Chronicle for January.  There is much activity on many fronts that I’d like you to know about.

Holiday Party

Through the Foundation Board of Trustees and the President’s Cabinet, I have extended your collective appreciation to the Foundation for the outstanding holiday party we held last month at Texas Station, and we have already set the date for the 2012 party.  Ticket revenue raised sufficient support to fund one full-time student for a year at CSN, and your food donations contributed more than 800 pounds of food to Three Square to help others in our community during the holiday season.  Thank you all!

Emergency Management for Higher Education Program

In late 2010, CSN was awarded more than $700,000 in grant funding through the Emergency Management for Higher Education Program.  Grants are awarded to a limited number of institutions to improve emergency management efforts including 1) develop/refine a comprehensive emergency response plan; 2) provide faculty/staff training in emergency procedures; 3) coordinate/communicate information across the college; 4) identify collaboration needs with local, state, federal resources.  I have been advised that the committee work is well underway, the RFP for emergency call boxes to be installed around the campuses has been awarded, and the Emergency Preparedness Guide was written, advertised and disseminated college-wide last fall.  CSN’s approach to emergency notification is a multi-level one and includes text and e-mail alert systems among the layers already in place.  Further, in developing our overarching Emergency Operations Plan, we are fortunate to have subject matter experts who bring a high degree of knowledge and years of hands-on experience to the table.  We will keep you apprised of training opportunities and other topics of interest. Our goal is a prepared CSN ready to respond if/when a threat occurs.

During the Semester Break:

Since mid December, a number of significant events have occurred that I will highlight.  Some will be further described below.

  • New permanent faculty and staff have joined us.  Please welcome:
    • Matt Sanchez, Director of Student Financial Service
    • Stephanie Espinoza, Instructional Services Librarian
    • Caprice Roberson, Instructional Services Librarian
    • Dr. Garry Widdison, Instructional Dentist
    • Tamara Flores-Sahagun – Coordinator, Western High Tech
    • Jeff  Lycan – Coordinator, Nellis
  • Student leaders and the administration refined a plan to invest an approved 8% increase in registration fees in greater student success.  The plan is summarized below, and the full plan is available here.
  • OTS sponsored the annual TechConnection program at the Cheyenne campus.  This day-long program of exhibits and training shared the latest technologies in higher education and has raised more than $30,000 for the CSN Foundation.  Many thanks to Mugunth Vaithylingam and to the OTS staff!
  • CSN will join with UNLV and the cities of Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas and Clark County in sponsoring an economic development summit for 100 business and community leaders on January 26th.  The objective is to engage the state mandate for regional economic improvement.
  • CSN joined with the system office and its PEBP committee to develop a survey of all employees on improvements needed in our PEBP plans.  The surveys will be distributed January 19.  BBI was selected as the NSHE consultant on benefit plans and will begin to explore future options.
  • Presidents of the eight institutions joined the system’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council (EDIC) to better advance diversity goals of NSHE, including sharing of plans and information, improving data gathering and information, and planning a diversity summit to be held next fall semester.
  • The legislative study on higher education’s funding formula continued to move forward with extensive inter-institutional discussions in preparation for the study committee’s next meeting.  The meeting is further described below.
  • A decision was made to acquire Canvas as the new learning management system (LMS) from Instructure.  We will go live in spring 2014 and will spend the months ahead conducting training and migrating course content to the new system.
  • Facilities and building systems improvements on all campuses continue to improve our facilities and extend the useful life of our systems.  Through spring semester and into the summer, improvements are planned for restrooms, HVAC systems, and interior finishes.

Formula Study

January 11 marked the second meeting of the Legislature’s study committee on higher education funding.  Preliminary concerns so far include the following conclusions:

  • The current funding formula does not meet the state’s goal of more graduates;
  • The current funding formula does not meet the state’s goal of reasonable progress to a certificate or degree;
  • The current funding formula does not ensure mission differentiation;
  • as presently structured, developmental education is failing;
  • The current budget does not encourage entrepreneurial behavior;
  • The current formula does not meet the state goal of innovation;
  • The current formula does not address equity issues or dis/economies of scale; and
  • The current formula does not address the state goal of alignment with economic development.

As a result, and with the concurrence of the presidents, the current formula was set aside in favor of a new approach summarized here.  National leaders in funding formulas have been retained to help define the new model, and the committee will also retain a consultant to help with this process.  I have shared the “shell” of the new model with leaders of the Faculty Senate, but this new approach will need many eyes on it and our best thinking.  Unintended consequences and other traps await us, I’m sure.   My plan is to keep you fully informed on where this process may take us.

At a special meeting of the Board of Regents on January 20, CSN and other institutions l submitted final plans for using revenues from an eight percent increase in registration fees.  The fee increase will become effective fall semester 2012.  CSN proposes to make a number of key investments in student success by:

  • Establishing math resource centers on each campus;
  • Hiring more full-time faculty;
  • Hiring more staff support in financial aid, admissions, and advising; and
  • Providing more support to computer labs and to the library for extended hours.


While this fee increase adds a greater burden on students for their education, the revenues directly benefit students as they pursue their education at CSN.

Many thanks to student leaders for their tireless help on this plan and for all of the student input.


Questions from Faculty and Staff Members:

“What preparations are underway for the 2013 legislative session?”

We have already begun meeting with legislators and candidates in preparation for the 2013 session.  Apart from the rush of late fall or during the session itself, we are using this time in the interim to hold one-on-one discussions with senior legislators.  We’re discussing PEBP issues, the funding formula study, CSN’s equity problem, and we’re inviting legislators to tour one or more of our campuses.  I believe the relationships we cultivate now will help us in 2013, and we’ll need all the help we can get.

 “What is the purpose of the Foundation’s inserts in the newspaper?”

Quarterly, the Foundation sponsors inserts in the Review Journal to share CSN stories and our brand with a wider audience.  In addition to our excellent marketing plan, we have to keep our stories and services front and center in a positive way.   CSN’s story is quality education changing lives.  It’s a story we tell repeatedly to any constituency who will listen.  You can find the latest insert online here.

“What message about CSN can I bring to political candidates I speak to during election season?”

As the season begins in earnest, make sure to tell state lawmakers and candidates three things:  Stop cuts to higher education; invest in CSN as an economic engine for workforce development; and change the funding formula to help CSN’s equity problem and to help NSHE be more accountable to stakeholders.

The Center for Academic and Professional Excellence (CAPE) has organized an outstanding series of meetings and workshops during convocation week.  Please take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about PEBP efforts, new software and technology, and other topics of professional interest.  Many thanks to the CAPE staff and to all those facilitating the instruction and training for their service!



 Watch for a forum later this semester with candidates for the position of Vice President for Student Affairs.  I invite your attendance and participation.

Best wishes for the New Year and for spring semester.

–Mike Richards

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