Jun. 15, 2023


Dear Colleagues,

As we continue to reflect on the recently completed Nevada Legislative session and look forward to the start of a new fiscal year July 1, one question that is weighing on the minds of many on campus is the status of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for state employees. And while I don’t have all the answers for you today, I did want to share an update.

As many of you know, the Legislature passed and Gov. Lombardo signed Assembly Bill 522, which included much-needed COLA increases for state employees, including faculty and staff at UNLV and other NSHE institutions. The legislation included a COLA for eligible classified staff of 12% in FY 2024 (which begins July 1) and 4% in FY 2025. For academic and administrative faculty, the measure stipulates that COLA increases are not to exceed 12% in FY 2024 and 4% in FY 2025.

This was incredibly welcome news, as our faculty and staff – and their consistent and unwavering dedication to our mission – have powered UNLV’s rise to become an R1 institution and will drive us to even greater heights in years to come. I’m also personally thankful to Gov. Lombardo and to our legislators for recognizing the important contributions of our employees, as this measure acknowledges the sacrifices many of you have made during some lean budget years recently when little or no COLAs were awarded.

But there’s still some very important work to do.

You may have read that these COLA increases were not fully funded by the Legislature. NSHE institutions will receive, on average, state funds of roughly 65% of the total costs for the increases. Though the size of COLAs for classified employees are guaranteed, I have been meeting with other NSHE presidents in recent days to identify ways in which we can bridge this funding gap and support COLA increases of up to 12% (FY24) and 4% (FY25) for our academic and administrative faculty. COLA increases for clinical faculty employed by the medical school whose salaries are primarily funded through the UNLV Health Practice Plan will be determined through a different process.

There’s been a lot of speculation and conjecture regarding the COLA. I want to be clear: I am advocating for academic and administrative faculty to get the full 12% this year. It will require some sacrifices in other parts of our budget, but I believe this is the right thing to do.  

The Board of Regents will make the final decision on COLA amounts for academic and administrative faculty, and we expect they’ll do so during a special Regents meeting later this month. In preparation for that meeting, Chancellor Erquiaga and Board leadership have asked all NSHE institutions to prepare an analysis of options to make up the difference between state funding and the costs associated with COLA increases. This work is happening now. 

I have no doubt that the decisions made during the recently completed legislative session will move our institution forward in so many ways. I also realize the anxiety surrounding the uncertainty of COLA increases for academic and administrative faculty and appreciate your patience. We are committed to doing all we can in the coming days and weeks to put forward a thoughtful, responsible approach that rewards our employees for their hard work and dedication. In the end, the cost-of-living raise in the new fiscal year will be the largest in more than 30 years, and we’ll have more clarity on specifics soon. 

Please know that I appreciate all you do for UNLV every day and I will do everything I can to recognize those amazing contributions. We’ll continue to provide updates as this process continues. 

Warm Regards, 

Keith E. Whitfield, Ph.D.
UNLV President