By Rick Trachok
On Jan. 17, Gov. Brian Sandoval propelled Nevada and higher education forward. His proposal to the Legislature to increase Nevada’s investment in higher education by $115 million in the next biennium accomplishes several things. This increase further emphasizes workforce development at our four community colleges, committing an additional $21 million for career and technical education courses such as advanced welding and advanced manufacturing. These are the types of job training courses needed for the New Nevada workforce.
As the first installment of a four-year plan to boost all our colleges’ and universities’ capacity to train and educate Nevadans in advanced manufacturing, health care, and engineering, the governor also committed $10 million to increase educational and research capacity.
Nevada’s colleges and universities have significantly increased the number of Nevadans completing programs and graduating over the last two years. Under Nevada’s new performance-based formula for funding higher education our colleges and universities receive state funding for course and degree completion. Under the old formula revenue was allocated simply for the number of students enrolled without concern for success or completion. Nevada’s colleges and universities will receive $58 million to pay for the additional professors, staff, and facilities required to meet the demands of a record number of students enrolling in and completing programs.
The state’s shortage of doctors and health care professionals is addressed by an additional $13 million for the new UNLV School of Medicine, bringing the total state investment to more than $53 million. Nevada’s two public medical schools will train approximately 200 new physicians a year. UNLV’s Medical School will focus on urban medical care and UNR on family practice and rural medical care. Both emphases are complementary and essential for our state.
The faculty and staff will receive a cost of living salary increase of 2 percent each year, in line with the recommendation for other state employees. Like all state employees, our faculty and staff have borne the brunt of salary cuts and furloughs as Nevada worked its way out of the recession. It is fitting and important that their patience and dedication over these last, difficult eight years are recognized.
Finally, Gov. Sandoval has requested that the Legislature fund both the new UNR Engineering Building and the completion of the construction of the new UNLV Hotel College building. Both projects are important for our state.
The Board of Regents is very appreciative of the fact that the governor accepted in whole its recommendation for furthering higher education in Nevada. With this new investment, Nevada has now reached the same level of state funding for higher education at its pre-recession zenith in 2009. Nevada will be better for this investment and we applaud the Governor while encouraging the Legislature to implement his recommendations.
Rick Trachok chairs the Board of Regents.
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Caption: Western Nevada College. Photo by J. Smith.