Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nevada Faculty Alliance fact sheet on compensation , workload and benefits of NSHE faculty

1. The Nevada System of Higher Education in general, UNLV in particular, and especially its faculty, have long been achieving high levels of excellence in teaching and scholarship even though staffing levels are well below national standards for comparably sized institutions. In short, even before the budget crisis began, we were already functioning in a highly efficient manner.

A. The state funding for NSHE -- prior to the current round of budget cuts -- was less than 86% of the state formula. That is, we were already funded at 5/6 of the state's legislatively mandated formula calculated before the cuts began.

B. Faculty compensation and benefits in the NSHE system are competitive with other comparable institutions in the region, which has allowed to be successful in recruiting faculty on a national basis, but it is not excessive -- and indeed, not even at the national average.

i. According the American Association of University Professors annual survey, UNLV (and UNR) faculty earn well below the top fifth of the national scale for 4-year public doctoral-degree granting institutions. Full professors (our most experienced) and Assistant Professors (those most likely to leave) rank in the 3rd quintile (ie, 40-59% range of the salary scale). This is confirmed by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce study of this past summer, which found that public higher education employees in the state make 80% of the national average on a state-by-state comparison. Teaching faculty in particular earn 5% less than the national average.

ii. When total compensation (salary plus benefits) is considered, UNLV and UNR become less competitive, falling to the third quintile of the national scale for all ranks. Our benefits (medical plus retirement) constitute only 20% of salary, compared with a national average for 4-year public institutions of 27%.

C. Faculty teaching loads at UNLV are well above the national averages for comparable institutions.

i. The Dept of Education annual Digest of Education Statistics for 2007 finds that faculty at 4-year public research universities work on average 55.6 hours per week; the most recent state-mandated audit of UNLV faculty workload found an average of 57 hours per week.

ii. The national average is for 43.5% of those hours (approximately 24.2 hours per week) to be devoted to teaching and research; the UNLV average is 51% (29 hours out of 57). UNLV faculty teach a course load of 9.0 classroom hours per week, putting us in the top 25% of national public research university teaching loads.

iii. Since last fall, budget cutbacks have greatly reduced the number of sections offered, and each UNLV faculty member is now teaching on average well above 75 students per term, which also puts us in the top 25% of national public universities for high student-faculty ratio. Finally, UNLV's 15-week semesters are longer than most universities (which range from 12 to 14 weeks), further enhancing the amount of time each faculty member devotes annually to instruction.

2. Faculty are already making significant sacrifices in terms of our workload, compensation and benefits.

A. Since the fall of 2007, UNLV has significantly cut the size of the instructional staff, including leaving full-time positions vacant and eliminating the vast majority of part-time instructors. The result is a loss of the equivalent of 115 positions. During that same period, student enrollment is up 1.5%. This trend has enhanced teaching loads, advising responsibilities, and service loads.

B. Those who earned merit raises in 2008 for excellence in teaching and scholarship saw half that money withheld this past year. And we have already been told we will not receive any COLA or merit increases for the next two years.

C. Our out of pocket health care costs are going up in the next two years. The original proposal by the PEBP Board would have raised out of pocket costs at least $1000 for an individual and at least $2200 per family, realize $55m in savings for the state ($200m over four years). The PEBP Board proposed raising deductibles from $250 for an individual to $950 and for $500 for a family to $1450. and increases premiums and co-pays about $25/month for individuals and $100/month for families, as well as reductions in coverage.

3. Steep increases in out of pocket costs for health care coverage, and loss of health care benefits in retirement, would greatly reduce our state's competitive position for recruiting and retaining our highest-achieving and most accomplished faculty.

A. The Governor's budget cuts $90 million more than the PEBP Board and proposes reductions even more drastic the SAGE Commission recommended.

B. The Governor's budget proposes cuts that would result in even greater in out of pocket expenses for faculty members than the PEBP Board proposal, by requiring an additional increase in premiums of over $100 per month for an individual (and over $300 per month for a family). Such severe cuts would also require significant cut-backs in coverage.

C. The Governor goes beyond what even the SAGE Commission proposed by accelerating the timetable for eliminating retiree health care benefits. Moreover, the SAGE Commission merely recommended a study to compare public sector health benefits with large private-sector employers; the Governor's budget dispenses with the study and simply mandates steep cuts in the state's contribution to employee health benefits.

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