Tenured professors in Nevada agree to proposed pay cut, critics warn that state could lose top academic talent
Nevada News Bureau
February 2, 2011
Until now, tenured faculty at Nevada's universities have avoided the budget guillotine that has chopped away at the state budget. They escaped salary cuts during the past session due to rules governing their pay.
So when Gov. Brian Sandoval asked all state workers to take a 5 percent pay cut, his office received lots of replies from state workers about tenured faculty pay.
"The governor has received more letters about faculty tenured salaries than any other issue related to the 5 percent reduction, both from faculty wanting to protect their salary and from university employees who felt it was unfair that they took a cut and tenured faculty did not," said Dale Erquiaga, the governor's senior adviser.
This year, Sandoval has proposed a 17.7 percent cut to higher education, meaning a probable mix of workforce reductions, tuition increases, program closures and salary reductions to come.
As Nevada's fortunes decline, the upper tier professors netting six figure salaries look more and more politically exposed. Many of the state's elected officials took a voluntary salary cut. Lean times call for lean pay, so the logic goes.
But elected officials don't compete in a national and international market. Professors do. They're not governed by collective bargaining agreements like other state workers. So this past year, they worked with the Board of Regents to change the rules governing their pay.
Tenured faculty agreed to take up to a 6 percent reduction in their salaries, an option that the Board of Regents may exercise to balance its budget. But the cuts come with the danger that the state's best professors will bolt to other states for better offers.