Monday, May 16, 2011

Testimony of John Farley to Senate Revenue Committee

I’m John Farley, and I’m with the Nevada Faculty Alliance. I’m a vice-president of our UNLV chapter.

I’m a professor of physics, and I teach physics to future doctors, future nurses, and future engineers.

The UNLV budget has been hammered in the last couple of years: we’re fired professors, laid off staff, cancelled classes, jacked up tuition and fees, increased the teaching load, cut salaries, and cut the health benefits.The budget has been cut 20%, and this is all BEFORE the current proposed budget.

And it’s the same story at University of Nevada, Reno, at Great Basin College, and the rest of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

The Sandoval budget would cut us an additional 29%, and that would be devastating.

Faculty are leaving or looking to leave.

One distinguished professor of engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, who has brought in over $23 million in grants and contracts, is moving to the University of Utah.

A professor of education at UNLV, specializing in science education, with a national reputation, is moving to a faculty position in Florida.

Another UNLV professor in education has been recruited by the University of Southern California, which is of course happy to recruit our faculty.

A couple of weeks ago, with a three day period I got a telephone call from a friend in Alabama, asking for a reference for a UNLV faculty member, who is under consideration for a faculty job there, and has gotten an interview. And just a couple of days later, another UNLV faculty member told me that she has accepted a faculty position in Georgia.

So there is a trickle of UNLV faculty leaving, which threatens to become a flood. And the faculty who are most likely to leave are the faculty that we would most want to keep.

The Nevada system of higher education is on the verge of financial collapse. That’s why I’m supporting Senate Bill 491, Amendment 6801, the Nevada Margin Tax.

We hear a lot about “shared sacrifice”, and we see see a lot of sacrifice, but not a lot of sharing of the sacrifice.

Higher education is critical to diversifying our economy. For a long time, Nevada had a monopoly on legalized gambling. We don’t any more. We have lost the monopoly.

If you consider higher education as an investment, independent studies show that for every dollar invested in higher education, the state economy grows by $2.50

Nevada already has the lowest rate of college attendance of any state in the country.

At UNLV, if the Sandoval budget goes through, 33 degree programs that train thousands of students in important fields that range from Social Work to Computer Engineering to Environmental Science would have to be eliminated.

The time is now to limit the damage to higher education. If the Nevada system of higher education collapses, it will be decades before it can recover.

In Germany in the 1930’s, for very different reasons, a few hundred scientists and engineers left the country. And it took Germany until the 1960’s to recover. It took 30 years to recover.

So don’t think that this is the kind of thing that can be fixed in next biennium.

The time is now!

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