Friday, January 28, 2011

Nevada Faculty Alliance state board plan for renewal in 2011



This proposal was developed by the NFA state board executive committee and discussed and adopted by the board at its meeting last week. It is now being distributed to NFA members for their consideration and comment prior to an anticipated implementation in the second quarter of 2011. The proposal results from extensive discussions, dating back several years, about the challenges facing our organization and the need to reorganize on several fronts – our governance, our budget, our services to become more transparent and more responsive to our members and thus more appealing to prospective new members The current financial crisis in the state of Nevada has brought these issues to a head, so that action is necessary for us to meet the short term challenges we face, and to put the NFA on a stable footing, and in a stronger position to advocate for faculty.

For the past several years, the NFA board has faced an increasingly irreconcilable tension. In one direction, we face growing expectations and needs of its members and prospective members for a more professionalized advocacy. In the other direction, we face the unsustainable increase in dues being sought by our national affiliate, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Under the latest AAUP dues assessment, NFA would be required to pay greater than 50% of our annual operating budget to the national organization, while vital services and functions in state would be deprived of necessary resources and attention.

In response to this situation, the NFA board has developed for 2011 a new model for payment of national dues more in keeping with the reality of growing in state needs. The model of restructuring results from a thorough review of our annual expenditures and of our needs for staffing and professional services in crucial areas of legal defense, government relations, communications and especially membership recruitment and chapter development.

Under this new model, the NFA will contribute on a per capita per annum basis to the AAUP to retain an affiliation for its members, while redirecting 100% of the savings where they are most needed and intended to implement a fully developed strategic plan to professionalize our organization and establish NFA on a sustainable footing for the future.

We anticipate this new model will not only greatly enhance the visibility and effectiveness of the NFA in the state, but also reverse a long term decline in membership and thus provide a long term increase in both the extent of our advocacy for Nevada faculty and the density of membership for NFA and the AAUP.


Throughout its nearly thirty year history the NFA has functioned almost entirely on the basis of time and talent volunteered by its members, with almost no staff support and minimal involvement of the AAUP, yet it has supplied Nevada faculty and its Higher Education community with effectively full time representation on legal defense, government relations and communication matters. That divergence between volunteer effort and professional expectations can no longer be sustained as the Nevada faculty has grown in size, diversity, depth of concern and demand for representation. The current management model is no longer able to support demands for more time and resources for organizing, member services, or leadership and most of all it does not have a sustainable model for recruiting, training and implementing new leadership in light of the massive workload that the volunteer model necessitates.

Secondly, because its founders succeeded in establishing a codified role for NFA in the state higher education System and in establishing such practices as a payroll deduction member contribution system and a collective bargaining agreement on one campus, the level of contribution from NFA members to the AAUP has been closer to those of a collective bargaining organization than a voluntary advocacy entity. This cannot continue because we do not have staff or support for officers to supply a level of services to members that they should expect from this level of dues.

At the same time, the state faces the direst budget shortfall in the country, and our System of Higher Education faces an existential crisis. Having already suffered through cuts of greater than 30% in state support for NSHE over the past three years, we now face another steep budget cut in the coming year. Faculty, having already sustained unpaid furloughs and increased workload, now face a proposed across the board pay cut The System, having already terminated programs and faculty, and lacking the reserves on which many other state systems rely (due in part to state policies that have absorbed student fees into general operating funds), is now going to be confronting in 2011 an even more drastic situation.

Faculty are likely to face not only continued hiring freezes which amount to workload increases; a 5% across the board pay cut; significant further scaling back of our health benefits; and layoffs in some form or another.

While the NFA has been actively involved in trying to mitigate the impact of these cuts on faculty and to ensure decisions are made in a consultative manner of shared governance, Nevada faculty have a right to expect in this environment more forceful and full time representation and advocacy on all fronts – on campus, before the Board of Regents, to the state government, and to the larger community including the press. It is the distinct responsibility of NFA to provide this representation and advocacy. Under our current volunteer model, we have simply not been able to meet this responsibility.

Member Dues and Services

The NFA is a highly organized and independent body with over 600 members.
We have our own legal defense procedures and resources; we send our own lobbyist to the Nevada Legislature; and we operate our own, very active Political Action Committee. In addition, NFA members benefit from the award winning Alliance Newspaper, which is filled with articles specific to the interests of higher education faculty in Nevada and articles of national significance. Although we appreciate being members of the AAUP – the national voice for college and university faculty – we are finding it very difficult to justify the increasing sum of money we send to the AAUP, especially when that sum is weighed against the very limited services the AAUP provides directly to our members and against the growing demands on the
NFA itself.

As an ever larger portion of our members’ contributions have gone to the
AAUP without generating a corresponding increase in local (or national) services, the heavy workload has fallen on our board, without support staff or support services, and has made it impossible to foresee how we could maintain even existing level of service to our members in the near future. In short, members’ contributions that could be spent on local advocacy and
recruitment are being diverted in ever larger shares to the AAUP.

The Plan

The NFA state board has developed a strategic plan to invest our members’ money more directly into critically needed areas such as restructuring of our legal defense, government relations and communications efforts, and membership recruitment and chapter development. We calculate these efforts will lead to a 25% increase in membership over the next three years and a more sustained increase in the longer term.

Currently, there are over 1000 academic faculty at our two universities and several hundred more administrative faculty (ie professional support staff). This represents a significant potential area for growth. At UNR, currently 166 faculty members belong to the NFA, while at UNLV, which had been largely dormant for years, membership has grown from 68 to over 100.
However, that growth cannot be sustained without an investment of organizing resources.

At the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) concentrated grass roots style recruitment efforts have successfully encouraged over 45% of the nearly 500 faculty members to join the NFA. Likewise, at Nevada State College, a smaller and new institution, concerted volunteer effort has recruited nearly all academic faculty into the NFA. Such effort, applied to the Nevada Universities, would require staff support and professional communications. But it could easily increase the NFA membership from the current 13% density level to at least 20%, or at least 100 new members.

At CSN and Western Nevada College (WNC), recent policy changes and a growing desire to explore collective bargaining agreements could easily encourage another 50 faculty to become new members. Educating the faculty at those institutions about the benefits and restrictions of a collective bargaining agreement is time consuming and would result in covering the expenses of experts brought in to speak with the faculty and, possibly, negotiate with the respective administrations.

In addition to direct recruitment efforts, recent – and very large – budget reductions at all of the NSHE institutions has generated a significant amount of concern about job security and the future of higher education in Nevada. Now, more than ever, the NFA needs to speak forcefully during the Nevada Legislature. But our old model, of relying on the heroic efforts of a single individual, cannot be sustained. We must “get in the game” of modern politics, by developing a means to mobilize members, support our allies, and provide information to frame the debates that will in turn shape the future of higher education in our state. Due to an insufficiency of local resources, we have had to rely on wholly volunteer efforts to develop our website and to publish our newsletter. Only through volunteer efforts have we been able to take a step into electronic communications using email, a blog and Facebook. This need must be addressed immediately if NFA is to adequately meet the needs of the future. To meet this need, we now plan to roll out this spring an electronic newsletter to provide more regular and more thorough communication to members, and to broadcast our message to the entire faculty and Higher Ed community more effectively.

Moreover, we need to professionalize this aspect of our organization –immediately – and this too cannot be done from Washington and cannot be done on the uncompensated time of our officers. We have developed a budget, staff job descriptions and divisions of labor among board officers to implement these proposed changes to the structure of the Nevada Faculty Alliance. It is therefore fully in the spirit of AAUP principles of transparency, shared governance, fair compensation for professional level exertion of effort, and defense of faculty rights that the state board has developed this new advocacy model for 2011.

Key points of this proposal:

1) Restructuring of members’ dues contributions to AAUP.
2) Investment of 100% of these monies into upgrading member services in state.
3) Thorough review of current expenditures, including current staffing and professional
services, as well as current governance costs, to maximize investment in member services.
4) Restructuring of state board to become more action oriented and more responsive to
membership statewide.
a. Ensure officers' roles defined by tasks, rather than titles, and to
clarify roles of various committees and to determine appropriate level
of staff support.
b. Clear definition of responsibilities, support and compensation for
state board officers to facilitate leadership training and recruitment in
the future.
c. Clarification of chapter officers’ responsibility, authority and
budget to grant greater autonomy to campus chapters but also greater
accountability of chapter officers to members and to state board.
5) Key service areas, in order of priority as follows:
a. Upgrading communications to maximize benefit of The Alliance.
i. Professional level email capabilities to facilitate regular broadcasting to members,
prospective members, and interested constituencies in state government and the press,
of our news and views.
ii. Professional level web presence including on line registration to facilitate recruitment
and membership renewal, as well as PAC contributions.
iii. Use of social media to enhance recruitment and visibility.
iv. Professional support staff to integrate email, web and print
communication – and to maximize and target reach of all comm.
v. Desktop conferencing software to facilitate more regular and
less expensive consultation by state board of chapter officers.
b. Upgrading recruitment and members services by providing staffing to provide adequate
logistical support to Board and chapters for more efficient governance and more
aggressive recruitment and chapter development.
c. Continuing and enhancing already highly effective legal defense services and Government
Relations/Political Action Committee.
6) Actual services currently received from AAUP which we expect to continue:
a. Benefits of Research and Communications departments (namely “Economic
Status” report and monthly publication for members).
b. Leadership training institutes.
c. National reputation.

1 comment:

  1. Wouldn't forcing the banks to pay the property taxes on their foreclosed properties solve the budget issue? Currently, they only pay the back taxes when they sell the property. And their in no hurry to sell the foreclosures. Meanwhile, the state and local governments have to sacrifice for the banks to get this free pass on taxes. Contact your state reps and have them address this issue.