Western Nevada College president's retirement raises questions about higher education funding

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 7/10/2013 6:22 pm
CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- Western Nevada College is facing a five percent budget cut this year after funding formulas changed in the legislature.

President Carol Lucey said the first 10 years of her tenure were exciting, spent expanding the school.

"Then the last five years we've been bleeding," Lucey said.

WNC's budget has been cut from 19.2 million in 2009 to 12.9 million this coming year.

Lucey said there's no where to go but up.

"I feel positive actually," Lucey said. "I think [things are] just so bad right now that people are suddenly aware we can't do that to our colleges."

Nevada State Assembly Majority Leader William Horne said this situation is raising bigger questions about higher education funding.

"Whether or not community colleges should be competing for the same pool of money that the universities, UNLV and UNR, are," Horne said.

That's especially a concern if finding funding for one school means taking it from another.

"I don't think we should be robbing Peter to pay Paul," Horne said. "You need to make the tough decisions and if that means raising revenue somewhere to keep them alive, that's something that you need to do."

Assemblyman David Bobzien agreed and said it's time for change.

"We can't fund education on good intentions," Bobzien said. "We have to be honest and we have to be frank in our discussions about the need for reforming our revenue structure so that we can meet the needs of the 21st Century in this state."

Lucey said SB 391 is a good start. It's a bill signed by the governor that creates a committee to research the problem, but Lucey won't be president when it all plays out.

While she will miss her students, she won't miss the politics.

"I can't do it anymore," Lucey said. "It's time for somebody else to try."

Lucey said she will stay on while Western Nevada College searches for her replacement and she expects that to be through at least the end of 2013.
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