Higher education board to hear plans to end pay cuts

The state higher education's Board of Regents will hear plans this week about ending state-imposed pay cuts for faculty and staff and extending an agreement with a would-be stadium developer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The board, which meets at the University of Nevada, Reno, today and Friday, will hear plans from Chancellor Dan Klaich dealing with the next two-year budget cycle.

After four years of cuts, higher ed leaders think the worst is over.

Klaich said he will present plans that call for the restoration of pay cuts to faculty and staff, totaling about $100 million over the two-year cycle. That would be in addition to the regular higher education allocation, which is $473 million in the current fiscal year.

The salary restoration money would be separate from the operating budget, so student tuition and fees are not used for faculty and staff salaries, Klaich said.

"That is not going to occur," he said.

All state workers have taken pay cuts in recent years as the recession eroded state tax revenues. UNLV's Faculty Senate last month passed a resolution calling for the restoration of those cuts.

Klaich said Gov. Brian Sandoval has requested that the higher ed system submit a budget with the pay restorations included. He has indicated that he does not plan to call for more cuts to education.

"This is what we've been stating for quite some time," said Gregory Brown, a history professor and the senate's chairman.

He said the faculty's first priority is to ensure the cuts are over.

"We're pleased that the governor agrees," he said.

Brown pointed to a survey out last month from the American Association of University Professors that faculty compensation at public, doctorate-granting universities was rising nationally until the 2009-2010 academic year. They were essentially flat until then, the survey shows, and rose 1.2 percent last year.

"That's our competition," he said.

If salaries within Nevada do not at least go back to where they were, the state's colleges and universities will be left to compete for talent with higher-paying institutions.

Klaich will recommend funding of a new building at Nevada State College as the highest building priority, with a building on UNLV's Shadow Lane campus and a remodeling of the College of Southern Nevada the second and third priorities.

Klaich acknowledged in a phone interview that it is unlikely there will be enough money for the new buildings.

The board will meet in August to finalize the details of its budget request for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

At this week's meeting, the board is expected to extend an agreement between UNLV and Majestic Realty through September 2013.

Majestic is the developer with plans to build a 60,000-seat stadium, thousands of units of on-campus housing, parking structures and retail space on UNLV's campus.

The university and Majestic have had a negotiating agreement in place since February 2011, but the current agreement is set to expire next week.

The project would be funded primarily through private money and taxes collected on the site once it is built, a provision that will require legislative approval. It will cost UNLV and the higher education system nothing.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.