Nevada colleges delayed hiring to fund cost-of-living pay increases
Nevada’s colleges have had to put off filling dozens of faculty and adviser positions after a budget error earlier this year left them unable to cover cost-of-living raises for employees.
In June, the Nevada System of Higher Education announced that a calculation error at the governor’s office had left the system $6.4 million short of being able to fund 3 percent cost of living adjustments for workers. Each university was then charged with covering its share of the shortfall, with the institutions’ plans to do so presented at a meeting Thursday of the NSHE Board of Regents.
The solution at most NSHE campuses was to not immediately fill vacant positions, though the impact of these decisions varied widely from school to school.
UNLV was tasked with finding a $1.1 million in so-called savings due to the COLA shortfall and other “unanticipated” funding reductions. To do so, it needed to put off hiring 10 of a planned 20 academic advisers intended to improve student-to-counselor ratios.
“When you’re stuck having to save $1.147 million, you’ve got to find it in different places,” said acting President Marta Meana. “It’s a terrible shame and it’s a big cost.”
UNLV also held vacant positions open for longer than planned, delayed some facilities improvement projects and deferred other operating costs.
Similar measures at UNR impacted 35 faculty positions, 11 classified positions and 12 temporary positions for a savings of $884,000.
The College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College also each delayed hiring several administrative faculty positions by four to 10 months. NSC also delayed hiring a classified staff position.
A report from Great Basin College emphasized that delaying hiring can only be a one-time solution to the COLA issue, as at least two vacant faculty positions are being reviewed for hiring in the spring. This fall at GBC, part-time instructors have covered classes that have been taught by full-time faculty in the past, according to the report.
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