Meeting Minutes - May 1, 2012

Notetaker #1

President Royce Engstrom was not in attendance at this meeting.  Provost Perry Brown presented the agenda items and presenters for this meeting. 

  • MUS Strategic Plan –

Tyler Trevor, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education

  • Student Insurance

Rick Curtis, Curry Health Center

The meeting proceeded with the introduction of Tyler Trevor.  He distributed copies of the MUS Strategic Plan 2012.   The plan was initially created under the last Commissioner Stearns.   The development of the plan began with two primary initiatives which resulted in a “Shared Leadership for a Stronger Montana Economy” effort and a 40-50 page plan that has always been very heavy on Metrics (accountability portion).  Tyler Trevor started in 2006 and is primary custodian of the current version of the strategic plan.  Each page is devoted to a topic and at each BOR meeting a topic is reviewed.  Additional information may be found on the website

Three major goals of the strategic plan are:

1)    Access and Affordability (#1 topic of the regents)

2)    Workforce and Economic Development

3)    Efficiency & Effectiveness

Tyler highlighted the following areas of the plan:

College Participation

The #1 goal of the BOR is increased college participation of Montana students.

 “Gear Up” grant funding now pays for all Juniors in the state to take the ACT test.

Retention and Completion

75% of 1st year students are coming back for a 2nd year.

Financial Aid

After the tuition increase last May a system wide affordability task force was charged to use financial aid data to make education more affordable.  There is a focus on increasing need based aid.


Tuition alone cannot be used as a measure of affordability; the ratio of tuition to median household income must also be considered.  Statistics show that 42% of non-Pell and 90% of Pell grant recipients end up with debt.  There has been a reduction in the max Pell grant from 18 semesters to 14 semesters.  Current aggressive goal is to increase average loan amounts. 


Two-Year Education

There is currently a lot of attention on two year education which is probably the number one initiative in the system right now.  BOR has a two year education sub-committee; there is a deputy commissioner for two year education; there is also a two million dollar Lumina grant.  COT leads the state for fastest growth with a 120% increase in FTE over the last 10 years.

Workforce Development

75% of graduates will be employed in Montana within one year of graduation, although not necessarily in their field.


Research and Development

Although expenditures have increased over the last 10 years Montana is still far down the list compared to other western states.


Graduate Education

Increasing graduate education as well as STEM education is an objective.


Information Technology

There are long range plans to share enterprise information systems (Banner) to create a more seamless education opportunity for students as well as find administrative efficiencies and increase coordination and cooperation .



Montana will always be on the low end as far as ratio of dollars per student which will require efficiency.

Tyler Trevor concluded his presentation and Rick Curtis was introduced to discuss student health insurance. 


For the first time in 16 years the student insurance program lost money.  More dollars were paid out more in claims than they were collected in premiums resulting in a loss of about 2.5 million last year.


  • Claims increased 26%
  • Number of claims were up
  • Participation in the plan is down in students under age 26 due to PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). 
  • Larger claims due to the fact that we are insuring older students and losing younger students.

There have been two significant actions to address these issues.  These changes are hot of the press and took place only a week ago.

1)    Student must now be enrolled for 7 credits to be eligible for insurance.

2)    There is a new two tier age based premium; age 40 and up premium is actuarially based.

Results of these changes are

  • 12% increase for students under the age of 40
  • 110% increase for students age 40 and older

The following points were made.

Even with price increases the student insurance is still 35% lower than the market price.  The student health insurance is going from good insurance at an excellent price to good insurance at a good price

Notification will be provided to give students time to think about their options.

This is a stop gap for the coming year and depends on results of the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care) Act.   Will need to reevaluate whether UM should be in the insurance business. 

There is no change in the enrollment process; proof of insurance remains on the honor system.

There are exceptions for students taking 6 or fewer credits if they are in their last semester.

There will be communication up front for retirees who may plan to take classes in order to qualify for health insurance.

The cost to implement the 2 tier system is limited to about 10K across the system; they are working with IT to keep the costs down.

Some loss of some enrollment is anticipated, particularly in those taking 6 or fewer credits.

There will be an impact on graduate students who are considered full time at 6 credits.

A communication plan using various web methods is in the works to contact those who are currently on the plan.

There will be some give and take this semester since the notification is so late. 

Rick Curtis concluded with the statement that IT folks have been fantastic!

The meeting was adjourned.

The next University Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2012.






Notetaker #2

University Council – May 1, 2012


Meeting Notes



Provost Perry Brown welcomed the group to the last University Council meeting of the semester. 

  1. Tyler Trevor, Associate Commissioner for Planning and Public Policy at the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, presented a brief over-view of the MUS Strategic Plan.

The Plan was originally created in 2006 to highlight shared leadership and accountability measures between the University System, the Legislature and Community Members.  There were 3 goals discussed when creating and working with the plan:

  1. Access & Affordability which covers about ½ of the plan.  In this is College Participation which speaks about increased participation for Montana students, Gear UP which is a grant that will pay for ACT tests for ALL Montana High School juniors.
  1. Workforce & Economic Development.  The 2 year education model and research activities to help with retention and graduation rates for all of the MUS schools
  1. Financial Aid & Affordability.  Montana must have more need-based aid.  Tuition increases cannot be the only tool used as a measure of affordability.  There are now new Pell Grant restrictions – the total number of semesters will decrease and there will be no double plans (summer will not be included).

Goal:  to have a shared information system to create seamless coordination for all Montana students.

  1. Rick Curtis was asked to give a presentation regarding the student insurance increases.  The following changes will take place this coming fall for all students in the MUS system:
  1. Class credit limits will be increased to a 7 credit minimum to qualify for insurance.  This is up from 4 credits.  The only exception will be for those graduate students in their final semester. 
  2. There will now be a two-tier system based on age of the student.  40 and over will have a higher premium.  Those under 40 years old will have a 12% increase which amounts to $105 more per semester.  Those students 40 and over will have 110% increase or $936 increase per semester.  40 and over will now pay $1788 per semester for health insurance.


                Claims have increased 26%

                Students stay on their parents’ plan to 26

                More benefits need to be offered

                Claims now include those with chronic health problem who take classes just for the health insurance


                How is this information going to get communicated to those older students just taking classes for the health insurance?   Answer:  in with “new student” packets and communicated during orientation.

                Will we lose enrollment?  Answer:  perhaps, especially for those students just taking classes for the insurance

A communication plan is in the works and will be rolled out soon. 

With no other items for the University Council, the meeting was dismissed.  The next meeting will be held May 15th.