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August 28, 2015

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EDUCATION:

UNLV president plans for ‘state of fiscal collapse’

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Steve Marcus

UNLV President Neal Smatresk delivers his State of the University Address in this Sept. 15, 2009 file photo. On Tuesday he proposed a “financial exigency” plan in response to proposed budget cuts.

UNLV President Neal Smatresk told a somber Faculty Senate on Tuesday that the administration was planning a kind of bankruptcy to deal with its budget crunch.

Under the "financial exigency" plan, tenured professors could be fired and whole departments and programs more easily closed down.

Earlier this month, the Board of Regents said it would be premature to consider such a move until the Legislature approved a final budget by June.

Smatresk told the faculty group that the cuts for UNLV would total $47.5 million and would need to be implemented by July 2012, so a plan for financial exigency would have to be prepared.

UNLV has had about $50 million in cuts over the last four years, mostly in non-academic areas and mostly avoiding large cuts for professor positions. If the cuts proposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval were approved, Smatresk said, academic cuts could not be avoided.

"We would have to declare financial exigency," Smatresk said. He added, "I believe the proposed cuts could materialize."

He and other officials would spend the next few weeks developing cutback plans with deans and faculty groups.

"It's very clear our state is approaching a state of fiscal collapse" when it comes to education, Smatresk said.

The cuts, Smatresk said, will lead to a "smaller, more expensive, more selective institution."

"I need to tell you," he said, with a voice heavy with sadness, "it's hard to abandon old ways of thinking. A white knight will not come in and dramatically change the situation."

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