LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Board of Regents approved the final piece of its $1.5 billion operating budget request for Nevada’s public higher education institutions on Friday, a return to funding levels not seen since 2008-2009.
The 2019 to 2021 Biennial NSHE Operating Budget and Supplemental Request includes funding for a state-wide summer school initiative to address STEM business and industry workforce needs, UNLV’s new School of Medicine, and faculty salaries.
The budget request that will be sent to Gov. Sandoval pending final approval by the Regents in August, includes $142 million in Capital Improvement Projects and $120 million in enhancement requests. This budget marks the return to 2008-2009 funding levels and the funding formula ensures that the more than 100,000 NSHE students receive an equitable share.
“The importance of this proposed budget for our students and faculty cannot be understated,” NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly said. “As a state-wide system, we are finally getting back to pre-Great Recession funding levels when adjusted for inflation, which we can use to improve student success and completion rates throughout Nevada.”
An important piece of the budget is the summer school initiative, which was sought by presidents of Nevada’s higher education institutions. Under the current funding formula, the legislature funds summer school only for nursing programs. This initiative would expand funding for STEM and workforce related courses during the summer, which would enable students in STEM fields to graduate on time.
The current funding model is limited because many students at NSHE institutions don’t take the summer off anymore, Reilly explained. Students are going to school year-round and this expansion would accelerate student completion, he said.
Board of Regents Chair Kevin J. Page said the state-wide summer school initiative is imperative as NSHE works to meet the ever-growing needs of Nevada’s economy.
“This initiative reflects the changing times and economy of the state and addresses Nevada’s need for STEM-trained and highly skilled workers,” Page said. “This initiative is a direct result of our strong partnership between our institutions and the business and industry community.”
The budget request also includes $14.3 million for UNLV’s School of Medicine, to ramp up its staffing levels to full capacity, as envisioned in the original plan.
Additionally, $142 million was allocated in the request for capital improvements, including construction of Nevada State College’s new education building, the College of Southern Nevada’s new health and sciences building, and a new UNLV engineering building. Planning funding was also requested for seven other construction projects at NSHE institutions across the state.
Meanwhile, a second pilot program was requested in the operating budget, which is designed to enhance faculty salaries based on performance.
Topping off the supplemental budget, the request addresses faculty salary compression, when faculty salaries fall out of sync with those of newly hired faculty. Faculty salaries have seen little change since the 2008-2009 budget.
The supplemental budget allows the Chancellor and Board of Regents Chair to submit requests to the Governor’s office if additional funding is identified for higher education during the 2019 Legislative Session.
The Nevada System of Higher Education, comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute, serves the educational and job training needs of Nevada. NSHE provides educational opportunities to more than 100,000 students and is governed by the Nevada Board of Regents.