NSHE Board of Regents approves University of Nevada, Reno recommendation for closure; sale of the Carlin site to the Nevada National Guard moves forward
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – After years of exploring options to sustain the long term financial viability of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Fire Science Academy, a recommendation to cease the Academy’s operations in Carlin, Nev., has been approved by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents. The recommendation was presented by University President Marc Johnson at the Regents’ meeting today in Las Vegas.
“This marks a difficult, yet necessary decision point,” said Johnson. “It follows considerable effort over many years to explore options by which the financial viability of the Fire Science Academy operations might be sustained. I extend my continued appreciation to the staff, elected officials, clients, industry stakeholders and others who worked diligently with the University throughout this period.”
The planned sale of the Carlin facility to the Nevada National Guard is moving forward and is anticipated to be finalized within months. While closure of the University’s Fire Science Academy operations is proposed, plans call for future Nevada National Guard activities and construction at the site, including construction of facilities related to a new Nevada National Guard Readiness Center.
The Fire Science Academy’s primary financial challenges result from long-term, legacy debt associated with the purchase and construction of the facility and a related, mediated settlement between the parties involved. The Fire Science Academy currently carries a $24.5 million capital debt and an $11.8 million operating deficit. In 2008, an ad hoc advisory council chaired by former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn issued a recommendation to the University and the Regents to close the Academy if other options to sustain its financial viability could not be identified and implemented.
“The legacy debt and deficit have plagued the Fire Science Academy for many years,” said Johnson. “While the financial performance has improved, the reality is that it does not generate sufficient revenue to provide for needed debt relief.”
A per-credit, $6.50 fee paid by University students is currently applied toward the Fire Science Academy’s capital debt. Once the sale of the facility closes, approximately $4 of this fee will be redirected to support new bonding capacity for future, student-oriented, campus capital projects. The remaining portion of the fee will continue to be applied toward the remaining Fire Science Academy’s capital debt. Proceeds from the Carlin facility’s sale and other property sales will also be applied toward the capital debt. The University continues to explore options by which to relieve the operating deficit.
The approved recommendation proposes closure of most of the Fire Science Academy’s operations on Dec. 31, 2011. Some classroom-based training programs will likely be held beyond that date. The Fire Science Academy staff includes 28 full-time positions. It is anticipated that most of the positions will be closed, while some will continue at least through the post-sale transition to the Nevada National Guard.
“The impact of this closure on the Academy’s employees, clients and Elko County is deeply regrettable,” said Johnson. “The employees, in particular, have demonstrated great diligence and professionalism, and have developed a program that is recognized worldwide. Their service and commitment is profoundly appreciated.”
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Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of 18,000 students and is ranked in the top tier of the nation’s best universities. Part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University has the system’s largest research program and is home to the state’s medical school. With outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties and with one of the nation’s largest study-abroad consortiums, the University extends across the state and around the world. For more information, visit www.unr.edu.