UNLV’s top priority is faculty pay – so says NV Chancellor

Nevada Chancellor Dan Klaich agrees with UNLV President Neal Smastrek – restoring faculty pay back to the pre-5% cut level is the top priority of UNLV. 

     Forget the four-year graduation rates hovering around 15%, ignore the fact that staff are utilizing the food pantry to make ends meet and disregard that UNLV’s student government, CSUN, has received a record number of scholarship applications, including those for the Emergency Aid Scholarship, with more students applying this semester than have applied in every previous year since its inception. To Klaich, all of those issues take a back seat to restoring faculty pay to the pre cut levels.

     When asked why he agreed with President Smastrek and didn’t consider the aforementioned items more disconcerting, Klaich responded that well-paid faculty is the “backbone” of a “nationally competitive” university.

     Klaich was told of the record number of students applying for emergency aid scholarships and then asked, “If UNLV needs more money for faculty pay, what should be cut so that the tuition burden on students isn’t increased?” Klaich said that he’s “not for raising fees to pay faculty salaries” but said, “A part of the burden will be borne by student fees.” He reassured the students in the journalism class that he was speaking to that the students that will pay for faculty will be future students, not current ones.

     Although students have had tuition raised time and time again, Klaich said that he believes the tuition increases are fair and that all students should share the burden.

     When students in the journalism class asked what he thought about students who drop out of UNLV to accept high paying, low skill jobs on the Las Vegas Strip, Klaich quipped, “It’s great if you (students) want nowhere to go” in their careers.

     Klaich said that the university needs more students graduating, yet he couldn’t explain why UNLV doesn’t recruit students who take the ACT or SAT to attend the university. Instead, Klaich stressed a need to get rid of the high school proficiency exam in Nevada and that “we (UNLV) have to reach down to middle schools as to why college is important.”

     Students at UNLV face uncertainty with tuition increases that outpace the rate of inflation, courses that have fewer classes available and more grad students teaching courses. To add to the red tape of the university, UNLV doesn’t accept the same CLEP credit as the University of Nevada at Reno or certain classes at CSN, posing more headaches for transfer students.

     When asked why UNLV doesn’t accept CLEP credit for general education classes that UNR accepts, Chancellor Klaich stood up for students, saying, “We should do whatever we can do to get rid of that nonsense. There’s no excuse for that.”  

With so many groups vying for preferential treatment from the Board of Regents and the Chancellor, time will tell if students’ educations and their financial burden will be a factor in the upcoming funding formula meeting.

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Societal pressure may be to blame for UNLV’s low graduation rates

With one in four students dropping out of high school, miles of foreclosed homes and scarce job prospects, the city of Las Vegas has a full plate of problems to combat. For those students who make it past high school graduation and go on to UNLV, there are more challenges to face.

Currently, the four-year graduation rate at UNLV sits at a mere 14%. Compared to the national average of a 64% six-year graduation rate, UNLV’s six-year graduation rate doesn’t measure up at 39%.

Mark Riggins, a business and accounting teacher at the East Career and Technical Academy within the Clark County School District who also serves as the Director of the Educational Taskforce for the Clark County Republican Party, believes that societal pressure to go to college may be to blame for UNLV’s low graduation rates. “The idea that everyone should go to college is a disservice [to society] because we’re telling kids that you’re not important if you don’t go to a university.”

UNLV College Libertarians president, Lou Pombo mirrored Riggins sentiments, saying, that societies have many facets, “Everything can’t be an intellectual class, that’s impossible.” According to the Executive Director for the Nevada Youth Coalition, J.T. Creedon, “I never wanted to go to college. I wanted to be a musician. That’s not a typical university major and it’s better suited for a technical school. There’s definitely a stigma attached to some private technical schools, such as University of Phoenix, which may not be accepted by an employer or might not be accredited.”

Others argue that Las Vegas’ chief industry, the service industry, has more than a little to do with UNLV’s low graduation rates. Andria Coleman, a senator for the College of Liberal Arts at UNLV said, “It’s the reality of this town that you can make $90,000 [a year] parking cars or $3,000 a week stripping… even though this is a college town, you can make a whole lot more money without a degree.” Pombo agreed, saying, “You need some type of working-class and [students] realize that in this town, they can make more money being in the working class than with a degree.”

While some students skip college altogether, others are showing up for a year and leaving as evidenced by UNLV’s first-year retention rate of 76%. This is just slightly below the US average of 77% and much lower than the 84% that Nevada’s western neighbor, California, boasts.  Creedon explained, “There needs to be an emphasis on steering people in the right direction. Students just go to college and have no idea what they want to do with their life because everybody tells them that college is the way they should go.” “It’s a mistake to think every kid has to go to college… not everyone is cut out for it,” lamented Riggins.

Creedon was concerned about university staff not steering undecided students in the right direction. According to Creedon, “the advisors don’t help [incoming freshman] adequately with finding out which path to take. We need more front-end work to help these incoming students if we want them to stick around.”

UNLV Justice, Lance Arberry said that it’s important for UNLV to work to raise their graduation rates, saying, “Obviously, 14% is really bad for our university. It needs to change.” Creedon wants people to remember that while 14% is low and that a 100% graduation rate would be the ultimate goal, there are other factors to consider. “There are still a lot of people who want acting lessons or use pro tools but don’t enroll in a degree program but they reached their professional goal which wouldn’t be reflected in the graduation rate.”

Students look to author for answers for the future

As students filed in to the classroom, you could see the eagerness on their faces. They would soon ask the man at the front of the classroom the magic question; what should they do to make their careers take off?

With job prospects scarce and a culture of people that no longer work at a job or two for a lifetime, students look to anybody for advice.  That Thursday afternoon, somebody was here to tell them about the industry and how he went from a student to a published author. Students were on the edges of their seats.

Kurt Divich, a former UNLV communications major from the class of ’95 spoke of how he began his journalism career. “I was a comm major and at the time, you didn’t have to specialize. I used to tell employers that I specialized in whatever they were looking for at that particular job.”  Students snickered and smiled at the idea as they furiously took notes.

Although Divich know works as a financial journalist, he didn’t begin his career in that field. After a stint at Applebee’s restaurant, he went into the public sector. He told the students that he, along with his wife and mother of his four children, feel strongly about gay marriage and that they lobby for gay rights. “I started out working in the Parks and Recs department, and then I worked for the Democratic Party.” He counseled students to do various jobs, including those in politics, and then use that experience to hone their journalistic craft.

After a 20-minute speech, Divich went around the room and asked each student what they were planning to do after college.  Students sat wide-eyed and clung to every word that came out of Divich’s mouth as if it were gospel truth. He advised each student for their chosen path, telling the group that “what you want to do and what you would be good for isn’t always the same thing. Look for your strengths and specialize in that area.”

As the period came to an end, students looked as if they had some direction in their life. With bags packed, they awkwardly approached Divich to ask a few last minute questions. When they left class, they went out into the world as if they had hope for the future and a mission to “make it” in the field of journalism.

Start a political career with Consolidated Student of the University of Nevada

Want to get into politics but don’t know where to start? Never been to so much as a city council meeting? Have no idea what Robert’s Rules of Order are? Start your foray into politics by running for a position in student government during the summer!

This summer, four positions have opened up on the senate. Currently, a seat for the College of Fine Arts will open up this month. Positions for the senate will be for the duration of the 42 senate session term, which ends at the end of October 2012.

Senators are expected to come to every senate meeting, which, during the summer, are every other Monday and begin at 4 PM. Beginning in Fall 2012, meetings are every Monday night at 6 PM. Senators will vote on legislation, scholarships, grants, funding for student organizations and UNLV parties. Senators will be required to serve on two committees, ranging from Safety & Awareness to Scholarships to Ways & Means. Senators are required to spend at least five hours per week doing office hours in the the CSUN offices.

If being a senator doesn’t interest you, positions for assistant directors will be available this summer which last for a term ending in May of 2013. Assistant directors help student government directors in various offices such as Nevada Student Affairs, Marketing & Design and Elections, etc. If you have a talent for speech writing, research or graphic design, you can easily build a professional portfolio that will be presentation ready come graduation.

For more information about running for an open position on CSUN senate or for an assistant director position, come visit the CSUN offices on the third floor of the student union. All senate positions receive monetary compensation in the form of $50/ meeting as well as $1,500 per semester.