Nevada regents vote to hike higher ed tuition, increase salaries by 11%
(Nevada Current) Nevada’s Board of Regents on Friday voted unanimously to raise tuition and fees by 5% to help pay for 11% raises for professional employees at the state’s universities, colleges and research institutes.
The vote came after hours of public testimony, mostly in support of the fee hike and pay increase. But presidents of the state’s higher ed institutions and some regents emphasized the need to alleviate the burden on students to fund a large chunk of higher ed budgets.
Former Gov. Brian Sandoval said policy makers in Nevada don’t get it when it comes to funding higher education and he wants to educate the governor and lawmakers.
“Now I have the benefit of being on the other side,” Sandoval, now president of the University of Nevada Reno, said as regents debated proposals for cost of living adjustments for faculty and staff. “I really don’t believe that there is a comprehensive understanding of the consequences of these decisions on higher ed. And now I see it firsthand.”
Sandoval supported a measure to give 11% COLAs to Nevada System of Higher Education professional employees beginning in October 2024, paid for via an increase in tuition and fees, and cuts to staff and operations that vary by institution.
The proposal is expected to result in the elimination of 141 positions system-wide.
A second option before the Board would have increased salaries by 9.5% on July 1 of next year. However, it would have had a greater impact on budgets and required the elimination of 171 jobs.
The proposals follow a 12% raise granted to NSHE employees for the current fiscal year.
“They deserve this,” Sandoval said of the double-digit pay increase for NSHE employees, but added there will be consequences “to the student experience” at UNR, which receives the “least amount of state support…”
Sandoval said restoring the state’s funding level for higher education, which suffered from pandemic-era cutbacks and drops in admission at some institutions, “is an issue that we can all unite around in terms of going back and starting to work now in terms of informing legislative candidates and those that are in the governor’s office in terms of how that budget is built and getting this put into the base budget so that we’re not having this conversation over and over again.”
Sandoval called the discussion of higher student fees and salaries in higher ed “an opportunity… to create some champions for higher education in Carson.”
UNLV President Keith Whitfield said he was overwhelmed by student support and applauded students for recognizing what he called the “investment in their education.”
Students, faculty and staff told the regents that low salaries are hurting the classroom experience, retention, and result in attracting second- and third-tier candidates to open positions.
“I saw something in you that was very refreshing and lovely,” Regent Stephanie Goodman said of the students who supported the fee hikes, adding she was once in college “and $200 is a lot of money.” Goodman, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative, pledged to support the pay increases, but called them “unsustainable.”