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Academic Affairs Budget Considerations

Sent via UNLV Official on March 22, 2010


I have received a set of recommendations from Executive Vice President and Provost Bowers and Vice President for Research Smith to start the conversation on how we can reduce the academic budget by $4 million. This list (see below) was made after consultation with our deans and after reviewing various measures of productivity and cost. I thank them for their hard work on this thankless task. This was an extremely difficult set of recommendations to generate, and includes departmental elimination, sub-unit elimination and recommendations for differential tuition (which may ultimately reduce our cumulative need for cuts). The list includes more programs to be reviewed than we plan to cut at this time, thus allowing the Presidential Review Committee (PRC) the opportunity to offer their guidance on maintaining core institutional strengths.

This material has been transmitted to the PRC, chaired by Dr. Gregory Brown, formed jointly by the Faculty Senate and Administration. The PRC charge will be to review this list, along with cuts from the other VP areas, and to deliver a prioritized set of recommendations for program elimination and other savings or revenue enhancing measures by the third week of April. Their recommendations will be reviewed by the Deans and Cabinet, our student governance groups, and the Faculty Senate Priority and New Program Committee before we make final program elimination recommendations to the Board of Regents.

In addition to these “vertical” cuts, we have extended the hiring freeze on all current searches, with the exception of grant funded hires, self funded programs and areas that are absolutely essential for business continuity. Savings in these areas and our VSIP program may help mitigate the need for further cuts later this year. We are all deeply saddened by the need to resort to such drastic measures. If there are any other viable options for UNLV we will pursue them, but I expect little relief, and fear that without significant legislative intervention we will be forced to cut again next year. As we make these cuts, we will honor noticing periods and tenure, allow students to graduate from eliminated programs in a timely fashion, and hope to minimize the disruptive impacts these cuts have on faculty, staff and students.

I understand how much turmoil and distraction our budget situation has created on campus. For programs not on this list I ask you to focus on our mission by providing a strong education to our students and by pursuing scholarly growth so that we emerge from this as a stronger and more focused institution.


Neal Smatresk



March 22, 2010

President Neal J. Smatresk Office of the President University of Nevada, Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada 89154

Dear President Smatresk:

It gives me no pleasure to either write or transmit this letter to you. Indeed, no one who loves and respects higher education could feel anything other than sadness in doing so. However, as you know more than anyone, over the past three years UNLV has had its state funding reduced by 30.9 per cent. No institution can continue to function normally when given such a dramatic reduction in resources. UNLV has made a large number of "horizontal" cuts university-wide but such cuts can no longer achieve the significant expenditure reductions required of us by the state. The University must now look to "vertical" cuts in departments and programs in order to achieve these results. As you have requested, I am transmitting to you recommendations for the Division of Academic Affairs in three areas: (1) unit and subunit eliminations, (2) additional administrative reductions, (3) departments and programs in which differential tuition has the potential to be successfully applied.

The Process

As you have mandated, each vice president, including the Executive Vice President and Provost, will be making recommendations for reductions and outright eliminations in their divisions. The target for Academic Affairs at this time is $4 million. In order to achieve shared governance between administration and faculty, the attached list represents a budget figure higher than the target. This allows the faculty committees to evaluate each proposal and to have a real voice in making these decisions, not simply a take it or leave it option.

Because any reductions in Academic Affairs will also affect research productivity, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Ron Smith was asked to sit in on my individual meetings with the deans. At these meetings deans were asked to provide possible eliminations and reductions in their colleges and schools. None of them were happy to do so, of course. It should not be assumed that any of these recommendations were initiated or supported by the relevant dean. The list that I am transmitting to you will not be met pleasurably by any of them. This list will be given by you to the joint presidential-Faculty Senate committee, the Presidential Review Committee, who will review these recommendations and forward those that they believe necessary to meet our state fund reductions. A similar process will be followed by the Faculty Senate Priority and New Program Committee. The recommendations will all go to you for decision, some of which may also require further NSHE Board of Regents approval. To the extent that there is any silver lining in this, it is that you have pledged to protect tenure and any tenured faculty displaced by these decisions will be reassigned.

These recommendations have been guided by factors including, but not limited to, cost, graduation rates, number of majors, student credit hours and FTE produced, scholarship/research/creative activities, external funding, and importance to the University's mission.

Units To Consider for Elimination

  • Educational Leadership
  • Informatics
  • Management Information Systems
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Recreation and Sport Management (including Professional Golf Management)
  • Sports Education Leadership
  • Teaching and Learning Center
  • Women's Studies

Subunits To Consider for Elimination

  • Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • Construction Engineering Management
  • English Language Center
  • Entertainment Engineering
  • Gerontology and Senior Theatre
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban Affairs Advising Center
  • Urban Horticulture Program

Further Administrative Reductions To Be Considered

  • Executive Vice President and Provost: Do not fill Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education position
  • Executive Vice President and Provost: Do not fill Vice Provost for Academic Affairs position
  • Executive Vice President and Provost: Do not fill Vice Provost for Academic Resources position
  • Executive Vice President and Provost/Academic Success Center: Eliminate 1 advisor and 1 classified position
  • College of Education: Eliminate 1 associate dean position
  • College of Education: Not seek NCATE accreditation
  • College of Hotel Administration: Reduce to only two academic departments
  • School of Nursing: Return to campuswide semester instead of trimester system
  • College of Sciences: Reduce costs of Department of Geoscience
  • College of Urban Affairs: Combine School of Journalism and Media Studies and the Department of Communication Studies

Differential Tuition and Registration Fees

There are some programs nationally that are either extremely popular or extremely expensive to operate in which the market will bear differential tuition/registration fees. This tuition/fee is an additional revenue source that can be used to bring down the costs of delivering such instruction to the institution. Not all programs and departments can successfully implement differential tuition/fees (i.e., those in Liberal Arts come to mind) and that is not a possibility for them. For those programs that can implement differential tuition/fee structures, the additional tuition/fee must be sufficient to offset the additional costs of instruction. The following colleges and schools are among those nationally that charge differential tuition/fees and, should NSHE and UNLV determine to pursue that tack, extensive research will be required to determine the appropriate price point for each of them. There may be others that are not on this list that can be further discussed by the faculty committees reviewing these proposals.

  • School of Architecture
  • College of Business
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Hotel Administration
  • School of Nursing
  • Department of Physical Therapy


None of us are unmindful of the effects that these proposals will have on our campus, our colleagues, our staff, and most of all, our students, if they are adopted. However, these proposals are merely proposals at this point and we should look forward to the continuing discussions that will occur in the faculty committees and with students prior to final decisions being made.


Michael W. Bowers
Executive Vice President and Provost

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