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UNLV Faculty on Budget Cuts
UNLV Faculty on Budget Cuts

AIR DATE: March 3, 2011

The outlook for Nevada's System of Higher Education is grim. NSHE Chancellor, Dan Klaich says the cuts could result in the closing of many UNLV campuses and consolidating some schools into others. At UNLV, Pres. Neal Smatresk says exigency, a move much like bankruptcy, is likely to happen and that mean everyone and everything will be on the table for cuts. We talk with UNLV professors about their thoughts on impending budget cuts.

Brian Spangelo, Chemistry Professor, UNLV
Cecilia Maldonado, Prof of Ed Leadership, UNLV
Rebecca Gill, Prof of Poli Sci, UNLV
Dan Klaich, Chancellor, Nevada System of Higher Education
Mallory Cyr, senior, UNLV
    comments powered by Disqus
    Having worked at UNLV I can undstand why it is in this mess. During my time there I witnessed serious sandbagging (too many support staff) faculty that cancelled classes in favor of basketball and football games, highly paid faculty that rarely honored office hours for students, and graduate faculty that didn't properly prepare for class and could not adequately defend case studies. Also, the president threatened to cut a cash cow (the school of engineering) as a means of meeting budget requirements. He privately told his faculty that he wouldn't do this. All administrators should learn to manage rather than make cuts. Whatever happened to integrity, authenticity and transparency in our school?
    ConsultDocMar 10, 2011 04:46:07 AM
    Joe public, You possibly do not know what is called a research university. Honestly teaching is only about 1/3 of a research university professor's job. If a professor can only teach materials from a textbook, he/she will be useless after a while. For education, there is only one or two things you can learn from a particular professor -- and those one or two things are the life-time efforts of a research university professor. He/she has to pursue advanced knowledge and creativity so that new information, techniques, and progresses could be tranferred to the next generation of population. There is nothing to blame about their teaching load -- if UNLV wants to be a teaching university, that'll be an extension of high school. A professor can teach two more classes without the research mission, but that will not be anything really called college education.
    soberMar 4, 2011 15:16:28 PM
    Sober, I fully understand the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. I fear that some professors equate tenure to a license to undertake neither research nor other scholarly activity. It is to these professors that I direct my comments. I am reasonably sure that DRI professors do a great deal of meaningful research, indeed they generate funds in order to pursue their passion. I would love to know how many tenured faculty undertake no research activity. It would also be interesting to learn when each professor was last published in a peer reviewed journal. I am not opposed to research per se, I worry when a professor's first loyalty is to his discipline, his second to his department, his third to his institution and students come a poor 4th in the pecking order.
    Joe PublicMar 4, 2011 20:52:10 PM
    Joe public -- I agree with you that there are some tenured professors at UNLV are not productive. But there is a history attached to it. UNLV became a research university not until mid 1990s. Before that most professors' mission was teaching and service. UNLV climbed to its current status, those professors certainly made their contributions. Now they are not as productive as their peers at the top-tier universities, but they should not be punished because neither Nevada nor UNLV gave them the resources that were comparable to those at the top-tier universities through their career. I compeletly understand your concern about the quality of faculty members but has to acknowledge that building a top university is not a matter of a day. I think that UNLV has made significant progresses in the last decade and it's so sad to see the budget cut is pushing it away from the right road. We are living in Nevada and we definitely dream to have a top university in the state. Reconsidering the assignment of professors who are not productive can be discussed, but hope that the university, publics, and adminstrators give them the respect and acknowledge their contributions to the university.
    siberMar 4, 2011 23:20:47 PM
    Siber, thank you for sharing your perspective. I would not seek to compare UNLV tenured faculty to those of top-tier institutions,it would be both unfair & unreasonable, although I know that UNLV does have some outstanding scholars. WhatI would be pleased to see is a comparison between tenured/tenure track, and non-tenured track professors at UNLV, in terms of productivity and to see when each were last published. I had heard that as a consequence of merit pay being withdrawn, a number of professors had made a conscious decision not to publish, as there would be no financial reward to be gained. I also understand that librarians can be awarded tenure even though their terminal degree is at the Master's level. I rather like what Ranson 1993 had to say about tenured professors "like many tenured professors today, faculty of those times had monopolistic descretion in how much of their leisure time would be allocated to their various academic priorities because their status was not affected by their choice." He was of course referring to Oxford in the 18th century, but I fear the public still hold that view, and we all know that to the individual, their perception is reality.
    Joe PublicMar 6, 2011 15:40:28 PM
    Academic staff have in essence a 9 month contract & get paid extra for summer classes, $5k per class I believe. I also understand that Nevada State College professors teach more than UNLV professors & that the Desert Research Institute staff don't have tenure. Bring them all together and see how they all get along! Why not start with making programs self-supporting? Tenure was designed to protect academic freedom, so why do librarians have tenure & why does the head of information technology? Don't declare exigency, simply increase teaching loads, let's see how quickly the hard working professoriate stick around. God forbid that we lost the odd history or performing arts professor, all that invaluable research gone!
    Joe PublicMar 4, 2011 07:41:11 AM
    Tell Governor Sandoval Nevada needs higher education. Fill up his inbox. Fill up his mail. Fill up his voicemail. If we don't do something...we're in serious trouble. CARSON CITY State Capitol 101 N. Carson Street Carson City, NV 89701 (775) 684-5670 Fax: (775) 684-5683 LAS VEGAS Grant Sawyer State Office Building 555 East Washington, Suite 5100 Las Vegas, NV 89101 (702) 486-2500 Fax: (702) 486-2505
    Deaudre LeCatoMar 4, 2011 07:04:05 AM
    I wanted to know where I could find the facebook group that describes the walk out that is scheduled on Sunday...I can't seem to find it. Thank you!
    Deaudre LeCatoMar 3, 2011 11:23:52 AM
    Here it is:

    Rebecca GillMar 3, 2011 11:35:49 AM
    Thank you Rebecca.
    Deaudre LeCatoMar 4, 2011 07:05:18 AM
    Legislators need to engage faculty to ensure institutions are following through on expectations for accountability and efficiency.
    SondraMar 3, 2011 10:29:22 AM
    Sondra, A review of program efficiency occurs every year. Every faculty member is evaluated on service, teaching, and research. So get your facts straight before you post an ignorant statement. I am not sure the legislature and its leadership is going to do a better job. They cant support higher education, balanced tax structure, because they have no idea how to solve hard problems.
    DaveMar 3, 2011 15:49:19 PM
    Hey Dave, Sondra is making a reasonable point so why respond with abuse? What is wrong with asking, well just how many students graduate from Afro-American studies programs, or Romance Languages, or my favorite, Senior Adult Theatre which connotes old people porn on stage! I also think that you are being perhaps a little "self-serving" with your claims as to what professors are actually evaluated on, I cannot imagine effeciency and effectiveness are on the agenda. With tenure, how important is your evaluation anyway, if not merit is on the table? I suspect that a review of "low-yield" programs will have a large number of professors quivering in their shoes. You better get that sabbatical application in soon, you sound like you need a well earned rest.
    Joe PublicMar 4, 2011 08:41:57 AM
    Dave, Sondra makes a very good point. And your point about faculty evaluations is a good one also, if it actually happened. There is so much that is supposed to happen - by policy and set procedures - that acutally doesn't get done which is a shame. Consequently, the school is in chaotic disarray. The joke among the serious faculty is that the inmates are actually running the institution, referring to low to mediocre student performance that forces dumbing down overall class performance. Many faculty complain about students having earned a lower grade complaining to the faculty member to raise the grade...and it gets done under threat of negative student evaluations which impacts faculty advancements. One question I have is why does UNLV have only 40% graduation rate?
    ConsultDocMar 11, 2011 06:28:31 AM
    As a member of the community, I'm very passionate about our higher education. My husband and I would not have retired to LV if it had not had a university. This state has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Why? because we have little diversity in our economy. In order to diversify our enonomy, we need to attract other businesses. We can't possibly do that without an educated workforce. Nevada does not have public institutions as an alternative. We have to save the higher education that we have.
    carolyn robinsMar 3, 2011 09:56:25 AM
    Education is critical, however using tax dollars majors such as BA in Dance, a BS in Beverage Management or a BS in Athletic Training seems questionable.
    Gene MakarvMar 3, 2011 09:55:43 AM
    Those seem important for "entertainment capital of world"
    JessicaMar 3, 2011 14:58:17 PM
    You should be aware that a Food and Beverage Management degree(which is what i think you were referring to)is probably on of the most important degrees offered at UNLV. This degree is required to get a job as a restaurant manager or as indicated a Food and Beverage manager/director. How do you think all those Casinos would function without people who understand how to run food and beverage operations?
    SteveMar 3, 2011 16:11:20 PM
    I'm a professor at UNLV and I quit my job yesterday due to the budget cuts. I am leaving for a faculty position at USC. I am so sad to be leaving a university with so much potential that will not be realized if the cuts go through. The community needs higher education now more than ever to have any hope of recovery from the economic downturn. The citizens of Nevada need to be better informed about what the consequences are of losing higher education in Nevada for their future and the future of all Nevadans.
    Gale SinatraMar 3, 2011 09:52:27 AM
    I am not a student, but I DO CARE about higher education and it's importance in our community. I will be joining the progresses on Sunday and I thank SON for bringin it to my attention.
    ChristinaMar 3, 2011 09:50:30 AM
    For Dr. Gill: Please comment about the return on investment that the state would receive from investing in higher education. You said that if people want to park cars for a living, that's fine, but if they aspire to a higher education, it ought to be available to them. If they do obtain that higher education, won't they return the investment to the state in greater productivity and enhancement of quality of life?-
    Martin D. "Marty" Sommerness--from Flagstaff, AZMar 3, 2011 09:45:16 AM
    The problem is that there is no money- where would these people get the money from? It is one thing to say that the government should pay for these programs, but where is the money coming from. I have been making 20% less for 13 months. I am doing everything to reduce my expenses. I can't afford more taxes.
    JamesMar 3, 2011 09:38:50 AM
    Why can't we have a regional approach for expensive curricula? Engineers are expensive to educate (I am one!). Do we need more than one engineering school in Nevada? Can we send students to other states with better reputations? Same with Dentists....Nebraska used to send Dental students to Colorado. Saved a bundle. They were required to come back and work in Nebraska, so the "handcuffs" were there to ensure the taxpayer got the benefit.
    MichaelMar 3, 2011 09:08:56 AM
    Unfortunately, the regents and university administrators don't have a clue as to what a university is, let alone how to run one efficiently. Any rational person could easily cut UNLV's budget by 30% without canceling classes, increasing class size or increasing tuition. Armies of useless, overpaid bureaucrats and administrators; scores of irrelevant, non-academic administrative "departments" and services; pseudo-academic departments that teach drivel and grant ridiculous degrees; buildings that cost 5x what they should; letting anyone who's breathing attend; heavily subsidized, parasitic pseudo-businesses like T&M Center and DRI; hordes of overpaid classified staff that mostly just goof off; a useless student rec center that costs millions to operate; endless catered affairs and glossy propaganda magazines; paid lobbyists that do the job of the president; farm teams passed off as athletic programs; etc. The list is endless. But, sadly, Neal Smatresk and the regents will, as they have done in the past, cut the real academics deeply while preserving crap programs, unnecessary administration, and bureaucracy -- and the clueless legislators will then praise them for a job well done.
    TomMar 3, 2011 03:11:40 AM
    You don't know what you're talking about.
    KellyMar 3, 2011 10:38:04 AM
    Hey Tom, It must be nice to sit back and say it is all crap. What are you doing to make it better. If you think all the services that you use as a human being and resident of this state are not affected by these cuts your more ignorant than your post makes you look. Do me a favor stop using any services supplied by UNLV graduates or any person who is educated by Nevada institutions. You use the services of the NSHE and you do not even have the brain to know this.
    DaveMar 3, 2011 15:42:09 PM
    Excellent insights. I couldn't agree with you more. See my comments above. Best to you, and let's keep up the pressure to bringing UNLV standards up to competitive grade. The administrators and faculty will have to "get with the program" first while the students will have to concentrate on getting a real education instead of a sheepskin. Let's keep pushing for some integrity and depth to an education that has some real teeth.
    ConsultDocMar 10, 2011 11:12:12 AM
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