Commissioners oppose ag consolidation plan |

Commissioners oppose ag consolidation plan

Mike Sciandra
Churchill County commissioners do not like a proposal to place the University of Nevaa Cooperative Extension, which has an office in Fallon, under the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR) dean.

The Churchill County Commissioners approved a letter to be written on their behalf opposing the proposed consolidation of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) and the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR) under one dean.

The commissioners discussed the consolidation at their recent meeting and will send the letter to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.

UNCE Northern Area Director Frank Flavin spoke on behalf of his peers as to why they felt the consolidation would not be in the best interest of cooperative extension.

Flavin’s major concern was the number of programs UNCE fosters and which would “have no real home in CABNR” including but not limited to such programs as agriculture; children, youth and families; community development; health and nutrition; horticulture; and natural resources.

In addition, Flavin said that the UNCE conducted a survey of 13 colleges, 11 of which were land-grant institutions. He said only two universities have merged cooperative extension and the College of Agriculture.

“Under federal and state law, the director of extension has the programmatic and fiscal authority for an expenditure of extension funds,” Flavin said. “And when you merge the director position with a dean position of a college, then you merge extension with the resident instruction and research mandates of the college, so you’ve put the extension funding in a position of leverage with two other college functions.

“And under curricular review, when we were cut by 72 percent, the state of reason for doing that was resident instruction and research were the main focus of the universities and extension is considered a service function, and therefore not as important.”

There were no public comments following Flavin’s testimony, at which point commission chairman Pete Olsen said it would be reasonable to send a letter expressing their shared concerns and acknowledging the differences between the overall missions of UNCE and CABNR.

Commissioner Carl Erquiaga said bluntly the proposal seemed like a cash cow for the benefit of the university system.

Erquiaga made the motion to submit a letter from the board of county commissioners to NSHE.