On behalf of the NSHE Council of Faculty Senate Chairs, to the Board of Regents, October 21, 2011
Thank you for welcoming us, the faculty senate chairs, to today's meeting in which the important topic of strategic planning for state higher education will take place.
So far, the system and the institutions have developed a number of goals, including, for example, the goal of more degree holders across the state. Strategic planning, as you know, addresses the issue of prioritizing and achieving goals. No one in the system is better placed to understand how to achieve these goals than the experts, Nevada's capable and dedicated higher education faculty.
As chairs of the several institutions, we come before you today to say that we are here to be involved in the process of strategic planning. We are here to help. We might even go further and say that we are the only ones who can help in this situation. We are the people who will carry forward the vision of a better educated, more enlightened and more economically sound Nevada.
We might begin with differentiation. One cannot seriously hope to enhance the number of graduates or the quality and value of degrees without a serious look at how to differentiate our institutions' respective missions to better serve our respective student populations; we are not all the same and too much standardized and centralized policy making will not serve the system's or the citizens' best interests.
We must discuss allocation of resources as a strategic principle, especially what portion system-wide and on each campus is spent on instruction and research versus student services or academic support functions. Faculty/student ratio is another important consideration. Can we expect to increase the number of graduates with our current faculty size? How do we assure quality, transparency, productivity and accountability across the system as well as in individual academic units. System governance should be a central issue for strategic planning.
Finally if we are to improve student success we need to stabilize our situation with respect to employment rights of faculty in the context of program review and eliminations. Budget concerns and program review have taken and continue to take an inordinate amount of faculty time and energy. Faculty must drive this effort.
Moreover, the state of Nevada must make a commitment to higher education. As senate chairs, we understand that the economic future of Nevada depends on the state's dedication to and develop of its higher education system. Further cuts to faculty pay and benefits run contrary to our mutual goals and to the best interests of the state. An energized faculty can carry forward your vision. A demoralized faculty will be unable to do so.