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Regents overcome misgivings, raise tuition

By ED VOGEL

CARSON CITY — Despite frustration of some members, the Board of Regents voted 11-1 Friday to increase in-state university and community college tuition by 5 percent in 2009-10 and another 5 percent in 2010-11.

Regents also voted during a meeting at Western Nevada College to more than double the $8,900 a year in-state tuition at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Law school tuition will reach $20,000 a year in 2010-11.

Undergraduate tuition at the universities, set at $129.50 a credit for the fall semester, will increase by about $195 a semester the following year and another $200 per semester in 2009-10.

Regent Steve Sisolak and others were perplexed about how the Nevada System of Higher Education staff arrived at the recommendation.

At one point during a long discussion, Executive Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich said the 5 percent increases cover just the annual higher education inflation costs and follow the historic trend.

But then Klaich and Jane Nichols, another vice chancellor, said they also looked at what similar colleges in the West are charging for tuition and based Nevada’s rates on the median rate that the other colleges were charging three years earlier.

Klaich noted that in 2006-07 the median rate for tuition at universities in the West was about $150 a credit.

“It has been a policy of this board to keep tuition and fees low,” added Klaich, a former regent.

But Sisolak noted that the new tuition rates for UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno will be less than $150 per credit: $136 per credit in 2009-10 and $142.75 per credit in 2010-11.

Community college tuition rates, set a $57.25 per credit in the fall, will climb to $60 in 2009-10 and $63 in 2010-11.

“Quite frankly, we want to stay competitive,” Nichols said.

But Sisolak said he did not understand why they were looking back three years for median tuition prices and why they proposed a figure below that median.

While Nichols said that was not the case, longtime Regent Dorothy Gallagher maintained that over the years she has been “driven crazy” by explanations given for recommended tuition increases.

She proposed the regents have a meeting with the executive staff in which a better explanation can be given. Others said they liked her idea.

“I don’t want to raise tuition,” Regent Jack Schofield added. “We keep raising it and raising it, and it makes us all look bad.”

But only Regent Ron Knecht voted against the increases. During a preliminary discussion in February, he had asked college presidents for “tangible” evidence that improvements would occur if the increases were granted.

UNLV President David Ashley and UNR President Milton Glick both said the increase strictly was to cover inflation, not for any improvements.

“It is just to cover business as usual,” Ashley said.

Knecht, the lone regent to vote no, said he was doing so “to protect the integrity of my word.”

“We are a low-cost provider and we probably will remain a low-cost provider if we approve this increase,” he added.

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