As was the case with Norm Arkans, associate vice president in charge of media relations and communications at the University of Washington, I received incredibly helpful information from John Kuhlman, manager of public information at the Nevada System of Higher Education. Many of the corrections Mr. Kuhlman made to my post actually paint a bleaker picture of the situation in that state than I initially outlined. Once again, my chief point is that reductions in state funding for higher education are crippling entire institutions that were once vital to American society. I’ve focused primarily on issues of access: Declining state support for higher ed invariably means increases in tuition in order to cover shortfalls. That in turn means that fewer and fewer high-school graduates can afford to go to college.
Here, according to Kuhlman, are some of the key facts:
“Since 2008, UNLV has lost 196 state‐funded FTE positions (8.11 percent) and the Nevada System of Higher Education has experienced 18.4 percent cuts (FY 09 – FY 11). When you consider all funding sources, UNLV has eliminated approximately 540 positions since FY 2008.”
“If Governor Sandoval’s budget is passed, UNLV will experience an additional 27.5% in cuts. To meet these funding reductions, UNLV is proposing the closure of 12 academic colleges, schools, departments or centers; elimination or suspension of eight academic programs; elimination of 36 academic degrees; and the elimination of 600 course sections.”
“System‐wide for all seven degree‐granting institutions within the Nevada System of Higher Education, we’re looking at the closure of 29 academic colleges, schools, departments or centers; elimination or suspension of 23 academic programs; elimination of 46 academic degrees; and the elimination of 2,313 course sections.”
The most alarming aspect of this picture, from a professor’s point of view, is the elimination of colleges and departments. Among the departments that would suffer cuts in faculty are: anthropology, English, interdisciplinary studies, sociology, political science, philosophy, journalism and communications. The universities in question would, as a consequence, be radically reshaped.
But the only solutions that appear to be available would punish students. According to Kuhlman, “The Board of Regents has asked the chancellor to examine scenarios with 10 to 15 percent fee increases in each of the next two years. For example, a 13 percent increase would generate about $21.2 million in FY 12 and $43.3 million total in FY 13 across the NSHE. Over the two‐year biennium, the student fee increases would generate approximately $64.5 million to counter a $162 million cut from the state.” He notes that these are at present just contingencies, and that they might only become reality once the state’s universities know what the final budget is, but that that date is fast approaching (June 6).
Neither Washington nor Nevada are unique situations. In my next post, I’ll look at the drastic cuts at SUNY-Albany. As I’ve said before, I’m not singling out individual institutions—I could easily go state by state, describing exactly the same kinds of scenarios. It’s long been well known that state funding for higher education has been in decline for at least a couple of decades. I fear that what we are witnessing now is better described as a free fall.
Correction: In my post of April 2, “For Profit Administrators and Teachers, part 2,” I made the point that Franklin University in Columbus offers the same programs in both traditional and online formats. I speculated that the learning outcomes from the two experiences would be radically different. I received a letter from Franklin’s president, David R. Decker, noting that a casual reader might easily assume that Franklin is a for-profit university (since those institutions were the focus of my post). It’s not, of course: It’s a traditional university, more that a hundred years old, and widely recognized as the finest business college in Ohio. But Dr. Decker stands firm in his defense that an online and in-person college experience are equivalent. My suspicion is that they are not, but Dr. Decker was right to call me out for not offering any empirical evidence. I hope to devote future posts to just that topic.Return to Top