February Chronicle

The CSN Chronicle 

Introduction

Much is happening at CSN, and this extended Chronicle summarizes many activities, events, and news items about the college.  Because the new funding formula for higher education in Nevada requires so much time and attention, there is a FAQ addressing many common questions about it.  In addition, there is much more information to share with our CSN faculty and staff 

Regent’s Town Hall

On February 23, Regent Kevin Page will conduct a town hall meeting at 4 p.m. in D-101 on the Charleston campus.  The town hall will be video broadcast simultaneously at TMCC and GBC so that their faculty and staff may participate as well.  This is one in a series of town hall meetings the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Regents is conducting this spring at all eight NSHE institutions. Similar meetings were conducted last month at UNR and UNLV. 

Board of Regents Meeting

We look forward to holding the Board of Regents meeting at the CSN Charleston campus on March 1 and 2. The meeting will be webcast online. The Board will vote to approve tenure for six CSN faculty members among others at NSHE institutions. In addition there will be discussion about the funding formula, which I address below, and economic development in Nevada. 

Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 

  • ·         Guiding evidence-based institutional improvement
  • ·         Influencing public policy
  • ·         Generating knowledge
  • ·         Engaging the public 

Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by the Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is the most comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success in higher education history. With more than 150 institutions, 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 30 states and the District of Columbia – Achieving the Dream helps 3.5 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.  CSN has applied to become an Achieving the Dream institution.  Joining this organization would be an opportunity that opens many doors for reform and change and for private foundation resources. 

Spring Enrollment

Our official census date is March 15, but the latest numbers I saw—last week–showed 36,087 headcount (down 6.6% over the same time last year) and 19,355 FTE (down 8.2% over the same time last year).  

Service and Operations Improvements

We have implemented a number of improvements to services and institutional operations designed to benefit students and our employees.  Among the initiatives are: 

  • Establishing and staffing a MyCSN call center for student information and help on the new administrative computing system.  This has been extremely successful;
  • Revising the Affirmative Action plan to include the latest policy changes regarding sexual harassment and provided training on the plan and policy;
  • Conducting faculty and, separately, student roundtable discussions on all three campuses to address issues of concern to faculty and students;
  • Developing a new online CSN orientation program for all new students;
  • Developing a policy and procedure change for the enrollment cancellation process that will improve the registration experience for many students and protect the operation of NSHE and CSN computing systems.  This will be fully operational for fall semester 2012;
  • Revising the CSN Strategic Plan in preparation for the Year-Three report to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities accreditation process;
  • Continuing improvements at the Cheyenne campus to refresh the interior space, replace carpets and update restrooms;
  • Installing exterior way-finding signage for all three campuses;
  • Updating emergency management planning and services, installing emergency call boxes on the three campuses (in progress) and better defining areas of responsibility;
  • Engaging employee groups, and developing a new survey on the CSN work climate;
  • Installing a second entry/exit door in D-101 (West Charleston campus) to improve access;
  • Installing a visitors parking area on the West Charleston campus;
  • Taking steps to transition selected information technology services;
  • Hiring a campaign manager for the Foundation’s comprehensive fundraising campaign;
  • Expanding “Ketchups” (lunchtime barbeques) for students, faculty and staff on all three campuses to improve informal communication;
  • Planning engaging Black History Month events, such as the  MLK Diversity Awards ceremony, to celebrate diversity; and
  • Preparing to overhaul our website and do a redesign in fall 2012. 

Status Update on the Funding Formula

 

The funding formula for the Nevada System of Higher Education is under review.  A legislative interim study committee meets monthly—the next meeting is February 29.  At the same time, key elements of a formula are taking shape. 

 Initially, three elements were included in a new model for funding higher education:  1) a base funding component, 2) a research/economies of scale component, and 3) performance metrics.  A draft model that considers these three elements as well as implementation and related issues is posted on the CSN website.  We are already meeting with faculty and student leaders to discuss the modelInstitutions would retain all registration fees and tuition

  1. General Fund Only.  The new model will allocate only state general fund dollars.
  2. Fee and Tuition Retention.  Institutions will retain all student fee and tuition revenues, and state General Fund support will not be offset based on the level of student fee revenues generated. 
  3. Course Completions.  The new funding formula model will utilize course completions instead of student enrollments to drive the allocation of funds.  Any letter grade, incomplete or pass would count as a completion as there is a cost to provide instruction.
  4. Matrix.  A revised matrix is attached, which we believe incorporates reasonable requests for change, generally at the upper end of the matrix.  At this point, I believe we are “done” with the matrix.
  5. Weighted Student Credit Hours.  Student credit hours that are completed will be used to “populate” the matrix.  Weighted student credit hours will then be determined by multiplying the weights in the instructional matrix by the number of credit hours completed.
  6. Non Resident Students.  All WSCH related to non-resident students, including WUE students, are excluded  from the formula.  Each institution will keep its out of state tuition and fees for these students and  they are not  counted in  completed WSCH. 

As to performance metrics, five have been recommended:  

  • Student progression momentum points (accumulation of 12/24 credit hours).

Definition:  Number and percentage of first-time degree or certificate-seeking undergraduate students completing 24 credit hours (for full-time students) or 12 credit hours (for part-time students within their first academic year.)

  • Number of credentials awarded.

Definition:  Annual number of certificates of one year or greater in length, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees awarded.

  • Number of students transferring out (with 24 or more credits)

Definition:  Annual number and percentage of students who transfer from a two-year campus to a four-year campus within NSHE.

  • Number of industry-recognized certificates awarded in providing workforce training.
  • Number of students completing a remedial/developmental course and earning a “C” or better in a subsequent course in the same discipline.

Please note that the performance pool and metrics are preliminary. Draft recommendations are still under discussion.

 

 FAQs on the Funding Formula: 

“How far along is this formula and will faculty and staff have an opportunity for review and input?”

We are in the early stages of developing a revised formula.  A broad framework has been formally prepared and discussed by the Board of Regents and the legislative committee.  Key to the revised formula is an instruction/cost matrix that has been drafted and discussed among faculty leaders, business officers and presidents.  Additionally, community college presidents have focused on performance metrics.  These, too, have been shared with faculty leaders.  I have kept the Faculty Senate leaders and the new leader of the NFA informed about the formula’s status.  My discussions with faculty and staff have provided some opportunity for input.  The Chancellor is planning at least two town hall meetings for additional input.  

“Where are the ideas for the revised formula coming from?”

Several suggestions from Nevada’s MGT study in 2010 to the funding models in Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Utah, Florida, Missouri, and other states have been researched as part of this process.  The Chancellor’s staff have expanded the research and drawn on the expertise of the National Clearinghouse for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) as a resource in the process.  Reciting these sources is not to say the revised model will be perfect.  Indeed, much of this work had to be done because Nevada does not do an annual study of instructional or full costs like other states.  As a result, other state matrices, models, and approaches became important resources. 

“Where are salaries and benefits in the formula?”

Employee compensation is a matter that lies outside the funding formula.  Compensation is our top priority for the 2013 legislative session, and the funding formula follows. 

“How is the base derived?”

The formula is designed to distribute general fund resources only.  This is a major differentiation from the existing process.  The concept for the formula begins with a matrix of academic disciplines and levels of instruction which will create a weighted value that differentiates mission as well as variations of cost levels by discipline.  Such matrices are used widely in other states to fund colleges and universities. The student credit hours assigned to the various weightings would be driven off of course completions, not enrollments, as the existing formula uses.  The weighting is then multiplied by the number of student credit hours completed with an “F” grade or above in each level of instruction.  A dollar value is multiplied by the weighted value to arrive at a value per discipline and level of instruction.  This model creates the general fund allocation to each institution. 

 “How is CSN’s equity problem addressed?

The issue of equity has been widely discussed with the intent of addressing it once and for all.  If it’s not fixed in this process, it will never be fixed, and that is not acceptable.  Several aspects of the new formula favor CSN: 

  • The new formula allocates general fund money only.  All registration fees stay on campus and general fund money would not be offset based on the level of student fee revenues generated.
  • The new formula excludes WSCH related to non-resident students.  CSN would keep tuition and fees for non-resident students, but they are not counted in the completed student credit hours.
  • CSN has many completers in high cost programs that will yield additional general fund money. 

All of these approaches contributed to an equity solution for CSN. 

“How is the performance element funded?”

In other states, the performance element represents 5%-25% of allocated funding that is identified for performance.  I have advocated new funding for performance since we have sustained such large budget cuts and no institution is in a position to carve out funding for a new initiative.  The reality, however, is that an incremental carve out from formula funding over multiple years will be the likely approach. 

“How is the access mission of community colleges addressed?

Access is critical to the mission of a community college.  Although some CSN students wish to graduate or transfer, we have many other students seeking education or training without any idea of graduating.  They may take one course for a promotion at work or transfer after a semester.  The new model considers these variations by allowing institutions to receive funding for all student credit hours completed, and considers the important transfer role of community colleges, as you can see in the performance metrics above.  Yet, let’s be clear, the revised model looks at completions of courses and programs not at inputs like the old funding formula did.  But, then, CSN was poorly treated in the old formula. 

“CSN has multiple campuses, will that be addressed?

An economy of scale element was proposed in the new model.  I have argued that economies of scale and diseconomies of scale should be handled in a similar manner with a flat dollar amount.  The latest draft of the model drops economies of scale altogether and inserts a rural factor with the level of consideration remaining to be determined.     

“How will a new formula be implemented since the current one has been suspended for two years?”

Implementation is a major issue that remains under discussion.  An initial intention is to phase in the new formula in some, as yet undetermined, fashion for the 2013-15 biennium or for the FY 2013-14 and FY 2014-15 fiscal years.   We are currently working through data continuity and consistency applications and the institutional research officers are working closely with the system office to ensure uniformity of data definitions, collection patterns, etc. that would assure the reliability of data on which to make budget allocations.  We will need time to work out the data issues. 

“How will future enrollment growth be funded?”

The new model is a completion- and performance-driven process that so far has overlooked traditional funding approaches and the fact that most institutional expenditures are incurred at input, that is to say, as students enroll, not at output, or as the student completes, transfers, or stops out.  The new formula drivers will be geared to completions. At this time, it is proposed that the current 3-year weighted average be utilized to determine projected enrollment levels.  It is important that any methodology utilized can be applied in periods of increased or decreases. 

“How will research at the universities be funded?”

There is a 10% premium on the weighted value of these student credit hours.  Further, presidents are recommending research be funded separately through the Knowledge Fund that the legislature established last year.  The Chancellor and the presidents are also suggesting that the Knowledge Fund support workforce development at the community colleges. 

“How will quality be protected with this formula?”

Preservation of instructional rigor and service quality is a primary concern of mine in this process.  Without care we’ll trigger grade inflation, inadvertently “dumbing down” the education and training we provide.  This is not acceptable.  As I stated during some of the roundtable sessions last month, I’m an advocate for increasing our standards and quality.  All of us need to become vigilant in protecting quality.

“What happens to student dollars?”

Under the proposed model institutions keep the tuitions and fees they generate. 

Please let me know if you have questions or concerns. We still have a long way to go to develop a new funding formula and your input is important. 

Sincerely,

Mike

 

 

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