The Nevada Faculty Alliance Political Action Committee today announced its endorsement of Senator Harry Reid for re-election to the United States Senate. The announcement followed a unanimous vote of the 14-member NFA state board.
The NFA will now lend its support to the campaign by joining “Educators for Reid,” which the NFA is encouraging its members and all faculty and staff are encouraged to join by visiting http://www.harryreid.com/
Faculty Alliance state president Scott Huber, a biology professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, praised Senator Reid’s longstanding record of support for making quality higher education affordable for Nevada students. He noted in particular that Senator Reid has secured over $230 million in federal funding over the past four years for research projects at Nevada’s colleges and universities and that he had succeeded in getting the Senate to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included nearly $200 million in stabilization funds for Nevada higher education and increased Pell Grants and other financial aid for students. This Act helped prevent layoffs of staff and limited tuition increases and cutbacks in classes for students.
“It’s a very difficult time right now for our Higher Education system, for our students who are struggling to stay in school, and for the faculty who are facing pay cuts and workload increases,” Huber said. “Senator Reid’s work in Congress for our state has been instrumental in keeping us from having to shut down programs entirely in the past year.” According to the Nevada state government’s Recovery office, this funding has created or saved over 3600 education jobs in Nevada through the fall of 2009, including 1500 positions in the System of Higher Education < http://nv.gov/Recovery/>.
The Alliance endorsement also noted that Senator Reid’s work to make quality higher education affordable was longstanding. “Long before the current economic downturn forced deep budget cuts in Nevada Higher Education, Senator Reid had been making our students and faculty a priority in Congress,” added NFA state vice-president Gregory Brown, a Professor of History at UNLV. He noted that in 2007, shortly after assuming the post of majority leader in the Senate, Reid led the passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which provided over $20 billion in new higher education financial aid. This Act redirected over $6 billion which had been used to subsidize banks for making student loans directly into student loans, so this money went to students, not banks.
NFA state lobbyist Jim Richardson, a professor of sociology and judicial studies at University of Nevada, Reno, highlighted another of Senator Reid’s legislative achievements: passage of the Southern Nevada Higher Education Land Act, which put public land previously held by the federal Bureau of Land Management to use for higher education. “This Act showed far-sighted leadership,” Richardson commented. “It will allow the College of Southern Nevada, UNLV and Great Basin College, to expand in the future to accommodate growing enrollments.”
For younger staff, such as NFA state secretary Angela Brommel, who is director of the student bookstore at Nevada State College and who teaches sociology at NSC while also taking graduate courses at UNLV, Senator Reid’s leadership has allowed them to stay and pursue careers in Nevada. “I came to Nevada from Iowa, because there were great opportunities in education here,” said Brommel. “Those opportunities feel like they are slipping away for a lot of people, staff as well as students, so it’s good to have Senator Reid working in Washington to help us preserve opportunities here. If not, a lot more people would be losing their chance for education and a lot more of the future teachers and faculty we’re training would be moving away.”
Community College faculty in the NFA highlighted Senator Reid’s oversight of Senate passage of an expansion of the federal tax credit for families of college students. “This measure expanded the tax cut for working students, and their parents, who pay for college tuition and higher education expenses,” said Shari Lyman, an economics professor and president of the CSN chapter of the Faculty Alliance.