CSN Faculty Senate supports remaining part of statewide higher education system

The College of Southern Nevada’s Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution Friday requesting that community colleges remain within the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Remaining in the system, the resolution said, will protect uniform course numbering, ease transfers between institutions and secure funding.

The letter was addressed to the legislative committees studying community college governance and funding.

A committee and two subcommittees were created by Senate Bill 391 during the 2013 Legislature. The bill aims to determine whether community colleges should remain under the Board of Regents’ purview and whether community colleges are responsive to the business community’s workforce needs.

The resolution also asked that the three CSN campuses not be split into separate colleges; that NSHE create a chancellor of community colleges or establish a community college governance board; and that the state create a workforce development fund for career and technical education, similar to the $10 million Knowledge Fund shared by UNLV, University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute.

CSN Faculty Senate Chairman Darin Dockstader said faculty members support closing gaps in workforce services but oppose leaving the higher education system, which oversees eight institutions.

Rather than removing community colleges from NSHE, the CSN Faculty Senate would like a chancellor position or a governance board to be created, to increase accountability to the Legislature and be responsive to workforce issues.

“Community colleges teach the majority of Nevada’s undergraduate students,” the resolution said of creating a chancellor position. “These institutions and students should receive as much consideration as the research institutions.”

Proponents of creating a new governance system for community colleges, such as the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, say it would make the institution more responsive to workforce needs and would allow the Board of Regents to focus on the universities.

“Removing us from the NSHE model would be removing us the from the revenue stream,” Dockstader said. “In a lot of other states community colleges are locally funded, but those states don’t have tax laws like we do.”

A study completed by Applied Analysis in January concluded that the limited ability to tax in Nevada would pose “structural and capacity challenges” in expanding or funneling government revenue into community colleges.

Contact reporter Kristy Totten at ktotten@reviewjournal.com or at 702-477-3809. Find her on Twitter: @kristy_tea.