Regents to confer about budget | NevadaAppeal.com

Regents to confer about budget

Teri Vance
tvance@nevadaappeal.com

Looking at the possibility of $162.4 million in cuts to colleges and universities across the state, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents will meet today and Friday in Carson City to discuss possible strategies.

The priority for Regent Ron Knecht, however, is to clarify what won’t be cut.

“There’s a lot of concern, worry, angst – I might even say panic – among faculty, staff and students,” he said. “The first thing on my agenda is to try to clarify what’s going on, assuage some fears so faculty and staff can attend to work and students to their classes without having to wake up in the night worrying they won’t have a job or classes to attend.”

He said he hopes by the end of Friday to have removed the “ugliest, least likely and most destructive contingencies from the table.”

Some of those include consolidating all Northern Nevada community colleges or the consolidation of Desert Research Institute into the universities.

The likeliest of scenarios, he said, will include tuition and fee increases at the least.

A hearing on Friday will include presentations from the chancellor and institution presidents on ways to meet the budget shortfall.

The University of Nevada, Reno, announced earlier this week plans to eliminate 224 positions, along with closing or reorganizing programs and departments.

Anne Hansen, spokeswoman for Western Nevada College, said the college has been making cuts for the past three years in anticipation of more budget downfalls.

Vacant positions have not been filled, and programs such as surgical technology have been eliminated. The nursing program, she said, has been scaled back.

Teachers are teaching fewer classes with more students.

Hansen said administrators are watching the Legislature carefully to see what the outcome will be.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “There are so many variables.”

Knecht said regents also are waiting to see if the governor’s plan goes through or if it is altered during the legislative session which is scheduled to end in June.

“There is no way to rule out the possibility that that’s what we end up with,” Knecht said of the governor’s proposed cuts. “As a contingency matter, we’ve got to have proposals before us to adopt in June in response to what the Legislature gives us.”