It was announced on March 1 by the University of Nevada, Reno that the University was beginning a process to review its curricula, a proposal that could eliminate a number of academic degrees and some departments in order for the University to meet state mandated budget reductions of 6.9%. I sent to the University media relations office the following questions, which were answered by Executive Vice President and Provost Marc Johnson. The Q&A began yesterday and will conclude tomorrow.
Q: How is it calculated that these proposals would add up to meet the 6.9% reduction?
They don’t. Additional cuts will be identified in administrative areas, athletics and other support functions, and by closing vacant positions achieved through attrition.
Q: What chance, if any, is there of these proposed cuts (one or many) not being implemented? Did the planning process purposely over plan on cutting to leave some room for give and take? What would prevent these proposals from becoming reality?
The Academic Planning Process allows for input, involvement and reconsideration. The process leaves room for give and take, and allows for programs to put forth a defense. In doing so they are encouraged to present specific, constructive and quantifiable rationale for why the program should not be closed or reorganized.
Should the full Curricular Review Proposal not be implemented, additional cuts – on top of those already being identified – would be sought. The Academic Planning Process would be reinitiated should other academic programs be considered for closure.
Q. If the Main Station Field Laboratory is closed, as proposed, what will happen to the property and how will it be managed?
These decisions have not been answered. A benefit of this process is that it allows for review of operational implications prior to changes being implemented.
Q: Has a property value of Main Station been assessed recently? What is the most recent valuation of the property? Have developers or other parties expressed interest in buying the property or portions of it in the last year?
There have been many well publicized and public discussions of the potential role of the property in the Regional Flood Plan. This could potentially and eventually include purchase of portions of the property. We do not have a current appraisal of the property’s value.
Q: Is there an estimated number of layoffs anticipated from these proposals? If so, what is the anticipated economic effect to the Reno community?
We estimate that 75 filled positions could be lost through these changes. The University has already cut $33 million from its budget and closed 281 positions. The economic impact to our region has been and will continue to be considerable.
Q: In the discussion of preserving the Spanish degree program in the Department of Foreign Languages, a rationale for keeping Spanish is “to maintain depth in the language and culture of Nevada’s growing Latino and Hispanic population…” What rationale was incorporated in the proposal to eliminate the Teaching Students of Other Languages (TESOL) (correction: it’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program in the College of Education?
It may be helpful to begin by explaining that TESOL differs from the “English as a Second Language” program which we are keeping. Through TESOL, students (primarily international students) prepare to go to other countries where they would teach students of other languages.
Our Spanish language degree programs and “English as a Second Language” programs both serve to maintain depth in the language and culture of Nevada’s growing Latino and Hispanic population.
Q: How are budget savings realized by reductions to the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension when much of its funding for its rural offices comes from rural counties?
You are correct to note that University of Nevada Cooperative Extension receives funding through several sources, including county, state and federal funding. Cooperative Extension will take cuts in their state-funded allocation. However, these cuts would not be subject to the Academic Planning and curricular review process.
Disclosure (and why I care): My roots at UNR are deep. I received my bachelors in journalism in 1995. In 2001 I obtained my masters in counseling and educational psychology. I am currently a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership. I was a director of marketing communications at the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources and the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station until 2006, I still assist the Experiment Station on projects about once a year and I am currently on a short-term, research-assistant contract at the Experiment Station hired to assist with the development of the Great Basin Environmental Program. I am also a founding member of the Friends and Alumni of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. The interview with University Provost Marc Johnson and my opinions about this situation are mine. While certain faculty, who did not want to be publicly named, were invaluable in providing data and context for both the interview, these pieces were initiated by me alone and were enacted in consultation and review by the other volunteers at This Is Reno.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.