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August 29, 2015

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Goodman: Proposed higher education cuts ‘draconian’

Mayor says it would be a ‘sin’ to cut UNLV’s philosophy department

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Oscar Goodman

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman says the cuts state officials are planning for higher education are not only severe — but are "a sin" in what they would slice from the college experience.

"They’re draconian," Goodman said today at his weekly news conference at City Hall.

Goodman said that although it might be a luxury to study philosophy, "to take that away from a college student and the ability to have expert teaching into areas that really make you into a complete human being, I think, is a sin. I really do. I think it’s a sin."

The mayor said he empathized and sympathized with UNLV President Neal Smatresk, who is facing a 22 percent funding cut that would take $32.6 million away from the school and eliminate some 315 faculty and staff positions.

The mayor, a lawyer, said that when he was in college he majored in both sociology and philosophy.

One of the rumors concerning the UNLV budget cuts is that the philosophy department will be eliminated, Goodman said.

"I have to be quite frank with you. I went to a liberal arts school. Had we not had philosophy, my college experience would have been diminished substantially," he said. "I would not have enjoyed it. They were among the most pleasant days of my life because of the fact that I was able to study things that I would never be able to think about after I left college because I’d be too busy making a living."

Goodman, whose wife, Carolyn, is running against Clark County Commissioner Chris Guinchigliani in the June 2 city election to replace him as mayor, said the loss of higher education programs would hurt the city’s future.

“Las Vegas is not going to be the kind of community that I want it to be, nor my wife, nor our children nor our grandchildren and those to come, if, in fact, we keep on slicing education,” Goodman said.

The mayor said he empathized with a group of accelerated students from Clark High School, a local magnet school that specializes in science and math, who he met during the last two weeks.

The students, who are college-bound, recently traveled to Carson City to talk about their educational needs when higher education budget cuts were being discussed in the Nevada Legislature.

It happened to be the same day that U.S. Sen. Harry Reid began talking about eliminating legalized prostitution in Nevada, so the students voices were drowned in the media out by the prostitution issue, Goodman said.

The students were disappointed in having made the trip and not being heard, he said.

"I told them if it happens again, I would advocate a revolution," Goodman said. "I would sit on the steps and I would bang on the doors and I wouldn't let them do business until they listened to me. I thought it was rude, I thought it was insensitive and I thought it was inappropriate."

Goodman also said the more "strategic alliances" that the city builds with the university, the better off the community will be in terms of bringing in new businesses and new jobs.

Smatresk is already working to that end, he said.

"If a business wants to come into our community, and they happen to have a particular expertise as far as the work force is concerned, they will actually design a course at the university, which will address that," Goodman said. "I think that's pretty innovative. ... That's a real enticement for a business to have training at a university, which will be able to have an educated work force provided to them."

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