RENO — Boosting enrollment at the University of Nevada, Reno, by 15 percent over the next eight years is the key to generating resources to hire more faculty and keep recovering from painful state spending cuts, university President Marc Johnson said.
Johnson, in the president’s annual address to students and faculty, said the goal is to boost enrollment to 22,000 by 2021 while reducing the university’s student-teacher ratio from 21-to-1 to 18-to-1.
“As a university, we are at a critical time,” Johnson said Wednesday in the ballroom of UNR’s student union.
“It will take several years to climb out of the severe state fund budget hole left by an $80 million reduction in annual state investment compared with fiscal year 2009, which has only partly been filled by increases in student tuition and fee revenues,” he said.
Johnson said he appreciates the “great sacrifices” all faculty have made to help “preserve a quality university during dark times.”
But he said the current student-to-faculty ratio and anticipated teaching loads exceed those of UNR’s peer research institutions.
“If we wish to meaningfully expand our budget, build out the campus and provide the broad support that will benefit all areas of the university, the conversation must start with a commitment to attracting more students, both undergraduate and graduate,” Johnson said.
“By growing our enrollment, we will have more of the funding we need to sustain our culture of competitive excellence,” he said.
To meet a projected annual increase of 360 students a year over the next eight years, UNR will hire at least 20 more faculty members annually during the next four years.
“We are making a firm institution-wide commitment to reduce the student-to-faculty ratio so that we can bring this figure toward 18-to-1, or near the national land grant median,” Johnson said.
The university also needs to raise its status as a research institute and earn the “very high research” designation the Carnegie Foundation already has awarded to UNR’s peer western institutions in Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, he said.
“If we wish to meaningfully expand our budget, build out the campus and provide the broad support that will benefit all areas of the university, the conversation must start with a commitment to attracting more students, both undergraduate and graduate.”
— UNR President Marc Johnson