Friday, June 5, 2009

NFA and Faculty Senate issue joint statement of budget principles

The economic, cultural and political well-being of Nevada depends on a skilled workforce and an informed, critical-minded citizenry. Our state thus depends on our Higher Education faculty to provide our students with affordable and excellent college education. Faculty, by vocation and belief, are committed to sustaining excellence in our System of Higher Education. We have demonstrated this commitment throughout the spring through our advocacy on behalf of the System to the state legislature. Despite the loss of merit pay and COLA; higher out-of-pocket costs for health care; and heavier workloads due to cuts already enacted, faculty are determined to uphold our professional and ethical commitment to our students in the coming biennium.

Accordingly, the Faculty Senates of UNLV, TMCC, CSN, DRI, NSC, GBC WNC, and the SA as well as the state board and each campus chapter of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, jointly propose the following Guiding Principles. We urge the Presidents and Regents to adhere to these principles in implementing the 2009 – 2011 budget, particularly with respect to SB 433.

1. The Integrity of the NSHE Code must be protected. The System Code provides the legal basis for academic freedom and our employment rights, and it provides the legal framework by which faculty, the various administrations and the System conduct business. Efforts to suspend, modify or circumvent the Code undertaken without proper forethought and study, and which would have the effect of diminishing the rights and protections of faculty and professional staff, ought to be avoided.

2. Each institution should be encouraged to develop a clear budget plan before any program terminations, salary cuts or separations of professional personnel can be demonstrated to be necessary. Cuts to academic and nonacademic faculty compensation, mandated furloughs of faculty, and possible elimination of academic programs, should only be considered following a budgetary review of all administrative and academic programs. Institutional program reviews with an emphasis of protecting the curriculum and the quality of our academic mission must occur prior to any adjustment in faculty and professional staff employment.

3. In developing a budget plan for each institution, preserving the core mission of each institution must be the priority. The universities and colleges of NSHE are charged with conducting socially beneficial research, providing excellent undergraduate and graduate education, and participating in our community. Other functions of the institutions – while necessary -- are not our core mission, and these expenses ought to be diminished or cut before any cuts that would undermine our ability to fulfill our core mission.

4. Institutional autonomy may well offer the best and most practical way for universities and colleges to solve the current budget shortfall. Each institution has
specific challenges and opportunities in addressing their financial situation. In so far as it will allow institutions to support their faculty, flexibility ought to be afforded.

5. The long-term viability of the universities and colleges, including recruitment and retention of top quality faculty, should not be compromised. Short-term budgetary considerations and short-term legal shortcuts could have negative consequences on faculty rights in the long term.

6. Faculty members ought to be afforded options where their own financial wellbeing is affected. No faculty member ought to be pressured or in any way be made to feel responsible for inequities that result from the structure of the NSHE workforce or by protections in the Code that are not extended fully to all faculty.

No comments:

Post a Comment