Accessible Navigation.

State of the University 2009 - The University of Montana

George M. Dennison
President
The University of Montana


Missoula, Montana
28 August 2009

You may download a podcast of the address. Right click on the link and choose "Save Target As...". You can then save the file and listen to it on your computer or your mp3 player.

Download Podcast

Good morning.  Once more we assemble for yet another year, and I extend a very special welcome to those who have recently joined us.  Given the difficult economic conditions of the last few months, some find it surprising that we have managed to fill the vacant positions so that we can deliver all that we promise to students.  But, thanks to the advocacy of the students and the responsiveness of the Regents, we start the new year and biennium with a budget that – barring another downturn in the economy or an extreme and unexpected variance from enrollment targets – will carry us through, albeit with some carefully targeted reductions in our expenditures designed to protect the academic programs and student services.  Nonetheless, considering the dire straits confronted by colleagues in other states, I think we have reason for a bit of good cheer and optimism.

You newcomers have joined us during an interesting time when multiple voices urge either reform or re-invention – or both – of what we do in higher education.  I must add that few define precisely what either term means.  Gordon Gee, President of The Ohio State University, recently offered some good news and bad news about the situation of research universities such as The University of Montana in his plenary address before the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).  As he said, we have come to a fork in the road, but we cannot simply follow Yogi Berra’s sage counsel and take it.  In fact, the course we chart over the next few months will materially affect our institutional stability as well as our national well being.  

The 21st century, according to President Gee, has the potential to become the “Century of the American Research University,” but only if we seize the moment and make the right choices.  He called for a virtual revamping of how we do our work as a research university, stating specifically that he had in mind something much more fundamental than the calls for interdisciplinarity.  We old timers at the University welcome the engagement of you newcomers as we seek to respond to the great educational challenge of our lifetime that Gee had in mind:  To return the United States to world leadership in the educational attainment of its citizenry.  I believe everyone knows that the United States has slipped to the second tier of ranked countries and appears poised to fall into the third tier unless we take action.  Any hope of success will require the involvement of all Americans, as urged by President Barack Obama and virtually every national, State, and higher education leader.  

The APLU recently issued an analysis of prospects for success in this aggressive undertaking.  Certainly all sectors of public higher education must play their part in this national effort, including the two-year and technical schools.  However, the APLU report concludes that the nation has absolutely no chance to achieve the goal unless the public research universities lead the way in undergraduate as well as graduate education.  We can succeed by the early part of the decade of the 20s only if we begin now and make necessary investments over the interim.  In my view, we stand a much better chance of justifying and thus actually realizing those incremental investments in due time if we act now to demonstrate that we take the challenge seriously.  While we of The University of Montana have yet to outline in detail a reform and re-invention agenda, we have already launched several initiatives that will make a difference in the immediate future.  I will return to these a bit later in this discussion.  For now, let me say as I have to new people every Fall for 20 years:  We ask no more than the best you can do, knowing that your success will benefit the State of Montana even as it lifts the University to a new level of excellence.

INTRODUCTIONS

Several new people have joined the University’s administrative team during the year.  I will introduce them briefly, asking them to stand so you can put a face with a name.  Please hold your applause until I have completed the introductions.  

Irma Russell has assumed her position as Dean of the School of Law.  Prior to coming to Montana, Dean Russell held the National Energy-Environment Law & Policy Institute Professorship and served as Director of the National Energy-Environment Law and Policy Institute of the University of Tulsa College of Law.  We welcome her administrative expertise as well as her keen knowledge of Environmental and Natural Resources Law.  We also thank Ed Eck for his service as Dean.  Ed will take a sabbatical and return to campus next year as a faculty member in the School of Law.
 
Stephen Kalm served this past year as the Interim Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts before selection following a national search to serve as the Dean of the College.  As Interim Dean, he oversaw the transition from the School of Fine Arts to the College of Visual and Performing Arts.  Stephen knows the College and the University well and has demonstrated his readiness for his position.  
 
Christopher Comer has served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since January.  A biologist by training, Dr. Comer came to us from the University of Illinois in Chicago.  He has an outstanding record of leadership in teaching, research, and service, and we welcome him to lead the College into the future.  

Ed Johnson stepped in as Interim Registrar this past Spring.  He brings to the position 20 years of higher education experience, including service as Registrar at Montana Tech of The University of Montana in Butte and Interim Registrar at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.  With his experience, dedication to students, and excellent communication skills, he has guided the Registrar’s Office as it prepares for the new Academic Year.

Larry White, Research Assistant Professor in the School of Public and Community Health Services, has assumed the position as Director of the Western Montana Area Health Education Center.  Within the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, Larry will work to address the State-wide issue of an undersupply of healthcare professionals by building innovative programs that attract, develop, and retain a homegrown healthcare work force for Montana.  

Sharon O’Hare, currently Interim Executive Director of the Office for Student Success, served the University recently as Director of the Math Learning Center, the Math PILOT program, and the Study Jam tutoring service.  Her commitment to helping students successfully navigate their college careers has already made a notable difference.

Victoria Clark has accepted the position of Interim Director of the Bitterroot College Program of The University of Montana.  Victoria has led and supported efforts to establish adult learning educational services in Ravalli County for several years, having served as the Director of the Darby Adult Education program and collaborated with the Bitterroot Job Service Workforce Center, the Bitterroot Workforce System, and Literacy Bitterroot.  We welcome her leadership of the University’s effort to offer new opportunities for higher education in the Bitterroot Valley.

Beckie Christiaens has become the Director of Fiscal and Personnel Services for Continuing Education, having served most recently as the Controller and Assistant Finance Director for the City of Missoula.  She has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from The University of Montana and has enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program.

Gregg Davis, Director of Health Care Industry Research for the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, examines Montana’s health care markets, trends, and costs. An Economics faculty member at Flathead Valley Community College for the past 14 years, Gregg directed the Center for Business Information and Research and served as Chair of the Division of Social Sciences.  He brings special expertise in conducting economic impact studies, including regional and wage studies for both the public and private sector.

Brandon Reintjes, the new Curator of Art for the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, brings previous experience from the Holter Museum of Art, the Akron Art Museum, and the Speed Art Museum to help lead the Museum in programming growth and collection stewardship. 

Joe Fanguy, Director of Technology Transfer in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Development will join us in September from Mississippi State University where he served as the Assistant Director for the Office of Technology Commercialization.  Joe has a doctorate in Biophysical Chemistry and seven years of experience in technology transfer in higher education.   

Please help me welcome these new administrators.  

We also have some special guests with us on campus today that I want to welcome and introduce.  I will ask them to stand as I do so.  Please hold your applause until I have introduced everyone.

Dr. Sylvia Moore, Deputy Commissioner of Academic and Student Affairs from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

Dr. Alex Apostle, Superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools.

Bill Woody, Member of the Local Executive Board

Professor Tuan from Vietnam National University in Hanoi, first visiting professor from Vietnam at UM in the Mansfield Center this semester.

We also welcome four visitors from Can Tho University in the audience today:  
Mr. Hien, Deputy Director of the Department of International Relations
Dr. Toan, Vice Rector
Dr. Khoa, Director of the Department of Scientific Research Affairs
Mr. Long, Director of the Rectorate Board Office

The University has received funding from the State Department to establish a study abroad program at Can Tho focused on global climate change.

Dr. Per Ashorn, Professor of International Health at the University of Támpere in Finland and Managing Director of two AVA Clinics in Finland joins us as a guest speaker this week at the School of Public and Community Health Sciences orientation.  Dr. Ashorn and the people in School will collaborate to establish practicum sites in Malawi and Finland for UM students seeking a Master’s degree in Public Health.

Please help me welcome these special guests and visitors.

THE BIENNIUM BEFORE US

As mentioned, we begin this year and the biennium with a balanced and reasonably responsive budget, a major accomplishment in view of the severe economic conditions that currently affect most other state universities.  Regrettably, but at our request, the Regents found it necessary to adopt a modest tuition increase of 3 percent a year for resident students and 8.5 percent a year for nonresident students during the biennium to cover rising and unavoidable costs.  Everyone preferred a continuation of Governor Brian Schweitzer’s College Affordability Plan with a tuition freeze for residents, but we found no alternative except a tuition increase because of the decline in State revenue.  Also regrettably, we failed to make any progress on salary levels, given the lack of funds and rising unemployment rates, but we will continue to seek ways to make progress.  In any event, the State appropriation and tuition increases, combined with the anticipated robust enrollments, will enable us to meet student needs and still respond to the challenges before us.  

I deliberately used the plural form in the last comment because we have more than one challenge to manage.  Let me touch on seven of them briefly to outline our agenda for the year and the biennium.

  1. Maintain Cost Control But Meet Student Needs:  This challenge rises to the top because of the volatile economic conditions and our commitment to efficiency in the use of resources.  Recent predictions of even further declines in State revenue may, if they materialize, require even greater efficiency measures.  We urged a tuition increase by the Regents not to develop new programs and initiatives but to enable us to meet student needs.  The State has a reserve fund as a cushion against further revenue declines, and the University maintains a contingency fund for the same purpose.  It behooves us to remain focused on restraining expenditures while satisfying our commitment to meet student needs.
  2. Assure Institutional Accreditation:  During the past year, several committees have prepared the self-study that will introduce the University to the Accreditation Team scheduled to visit the campus next Spring.  The Team will analyze closely all that we have accomplished over the last decade and develop a recommendation concerning reaffirmation or denial of accreditation for the next decade.  I urge everyone to become familiar with the self-study and to interact candidly with the Team members if invited.  I believe we have good reason for confidence that we will do well, but I also know from experience that the Team will find areas for improvement.
  3. Complete the Academic Strategic Plan:  During the last few months, still another group of committees has labored to articulate an Academic Strategic Plan to position the University for the challenges of the 21st century.  When this effort began more than a year ago under Provost Royce Engstrom’s leadership, we understood its importance as a guide for development, but few anticipated the central role of the Plan as we formulate our reform and re-invention agenda.  I expect that we will review and approve the Plan through the usual governance processes for consideration by the Regents during the meeting in November this year.
  4. Fully Implement the Program for Student Success:  Led by Provost Engstrom, Vice President for Student Affairs Teresa Branch, and Associate Provost Arlene Walker-Andrews, still other committees finalized last year and we launched the Plan to enhance Student Success at The University of Montana through student engagement.  The Plan has a number of components that deal with identified barriers to student success, stressing the importance of engaging students in their own education.  We have made some progress to date, as evidenced by the recent Carnegie Commission classification of the University for Civic Engagement and Public Outreach – a coveted status; the annual listing for some years now on the President’s Honor Roll for Community Service; and five recent NSF Career Awards to young faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding research and teaching potential while working with students.  We have also demonstrated the effectiveness of “learning communities” in the resident halls and have other related projects in the works.  In addition, the availability of instruction and rapidly rising enrollments in critical languages such as Chinese and Arabic and the opportunities for study and internships abroad through some 100 exchange agreements around the world have dramatically enhanced student engagement.  The Student Success Plan sets some clear if ambitious goals to measure progress over the next five years, goals that relate directly to the national educational challenge I mentioned earlier.  Those goals include 1) raising the retention rate for sophomores returning after their freshmen year – from around 72 percent to 80 percent – and the six-year graduation rate for baccalaureate candidates – from about 43 percent to 57 percent – the average retention and graduation rates for the highest quartile of research universities; and 2) raising the retention rate for College of Technology students – from about 35 percent to 60 percent – and the three-year graduation rate – from 30 percent to 45 percent – the averages for the highest quartile of  two-year schools.
  5. Fulfill the Construction Schedule:  Under the leadership of Vice President Bob Duringer, complete the School of Law renovation; the construction of the Washington Education Center, Interdisciplinary Science Building, Native American Center, and Gilkey Center for Executive Leadership; finish the Steam Tunnel Project and Energy Efficiency Projects made possible by State appropriations and the federal Stimulus Act; and begin the construction of a Vivarium, if we successfully attract the needed funding, which appears promising.  Completion of these projects will make the University even more competitive in the 21st century.
  6. Attract Additional Funds to Support Research and Graduate Education:  With leadership from Vice President Dan Dwyer and Associate Provost for Graduate Education Perry Brown, attract $80 million in external research funding and increase the number of funded graduate assistants, goals made plausible and possible by the federal infusion of funding to support research and economic development; and complete the integration and automation of research accounting and management.
  7. Launch a Targeted Effort to Raise $100 Million From Private Donors Over Five Years:  Led by Provost Engstrom and UM Foundation President Laura Brehm, the Campus Development Committee and Foundation Board of Trustees have reviewed a list of specific projects supportive of the academic and strategic goals of the University.  Even during hard times, we have a proven experiential basis for relying on our alumni and friends for needed assistance.

These seven agenda items, beginning with the obligation to meet the needs of the students who have chosen The University of Montana, will shape the daily work of the faculty and staff for the next two years.  We cannot fail to complete these tasks, for we jeopardize good work accomplished over many years if we do.  We know what we must do, and we know from experience that we have the competency and commitment to do the work well.  If we each do our part, I have no doubt that the University will emerge strengthened and more effective.  But that alone will not suffice.  We also have before us the challenge of reform and re-invention, a much more elusive but tantalizing goal or set of goals.  Let me turn now to a brief discussion of this overarching challenge.

REFORM AND RE-INVENTION

Episodes of reform and re-invention have erupted unexpectedly for brief periods during the history of public higher education.  A few have had radical impacts, while others have dissipated almost without a trace.  The most recent major rash of lasting changes began during the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, with the emergence of identity studies and politics, new disciplines and interdisciplinarity, revised approaches to general education, the rapid proliferation of the relatively new community colleges, and an orientation toward external developments.  Accompanying these programmatic and structural changes came rampant grade inflation, at least partially in response to the draft and the Viet Nam conflict;  the gradual and almost imperceptible erosion of the rigor, definitional precision, and epistemic relevance of academic requirements for graduation as increasing numbers of students changed campuses almost as often as they chose new majors and demanded more experiential “relevance” in their education; the demise of in loco parentis as the basic premise for managing student life on campus; the virtual revolutionary demography of the rising student populations, with females quickly out-numbering males and minorities constituting ever larger percentages of total enrollment; the provision of federal funds in the form of financial aid – initially as grants but increasingly as loans – to help aspiring students meet the costs of college, an early recognition of the emergence of the “human resource” economy; the relatively rapid if cyclical and targeted availability of federal funds to support research and graduate education, again in response to the need for appropriately developed human talent to provide creativity and innovation to promote national economic and strategic development; and the literally revolutionary impact of the new information technology on higher education from student recruitment through business services, student life, pedagogy and course management, and curricular innovation.  Over the last decade or two, higher education has struggled to manage these transformational changes while also contradictorily seeking to conduct business as usual.  Many of the current critiques of higher education have their roots in the continuing effects of these changes and the lack of a new higher education paradigm.

We find ourselves now at the opening of another reform and re-invention episode, this one dealing with the intended and unintended consequences of the changes that began in the 1960s and gathered momentum from societal developments over the interim.  By way of contrast, this time an economic crisis of major proportions provides the impetus rather than the social and cultural causes that fueled the reforms of the 60s.  However, the end of the Cold War, resurgence of “tribalism” in the “clash of civilizations” envisioned by Samuel Huntington, emergence of the Internet and information technology, proliferation of private for-profit educational institutions using new technology to gain increasing market share, exfoliation of the “human resource” economy with its emphasis on responsive training, creativity, and innovation, and advent of the global society and market impacting on American cultural, economic, educational, societal, and strategic standing pose unprecedented challenges to a society grown complacently accustomed to a leadership position in the world.  Everyone has read the reports and witnessed the developments revealing the vulnerable status of the United States economically, strategically, and culturally.  Most people agree that education, and particularly higher education, holds the key to any response in this new era when the intelligent and creative use of information and innovation puts the premium on the development of any society’s human resources.

In a sense, then, we in higher education have a position at the epicenter of needed change, and what we do will directly affect the response of our State and nation to this new set of challenges.  It follows that failure to act will result in either 1) change imposed upon us by others, or 2) the emergence of new institutions capable of responding to the needs of the society, for – make no mistake – the society will demand an effective response.  You will remember the difficult task we had to make certain we had a reasonable budget for the next two years.  Many people, including several State leaders and some Regents, argued that we had sufficient funding if we simply use our resources well.  The Montana Board of Regents, while approving the requested tuition increases for the biennium, announced simultaneously the intention to advance a reform and re-invention agenda.  During a recent retreat, the Board reaffirmed that intention, and called upon the Montana University System campuses to accept the challenge.  It behooves us to seize the moment and lead a reform and re-invention effort that, in any event, will proceed with or without us.  As Peter Facione said in his keynote address before the annual meeting of the Association of American College and Universities:  “It is time for some straight talk – starting with the realization that institutions that cannot adapt, or that choose not to adapt, are going to fail.”  More to the point, no institution other than higher education has the capacity or the intellectual capital for such an undertaking.  But we must move with dispatch and new thinking or find ourselves left at the starting gate, irrelevant and unsupported.  We have much to gain and little to lose by engaging the challenge of our lifetime, returning our State and nation to world educational leadership.

But what does reform and re-invention mean in this context?  As usually happens, much depends on the perspective of the proponent.  Some hold that public higher education either has priced or will soon price itself out of reach of an ever increasing portion of the population, with the result that more young people every year deem college beyond their means or capacity.  Still others, while agreeing with the major premise, add nuances about the use of available resources.  According to this view, public higher education has adequate resources to assure broad access to education if those responsible use the resources more efficiently and effectively, eliminating duplication, redundancy, and largely dysfunctional or obsolete programs, and taking advantage of information technology, which in any case influences the way people expect and want to learn.  

Still another group argues that faculty, administrators, and staff by and large worry more about their own comfort and well being than about meeting student and societal needs.  By this view, faculty teach what they themselves learned as they learned it, administrators focus on maintaining institutional calm and decorum, staff busy themselves doing what they have always done as they have always done it, and students prefer the shortest and least demanding path to a degree that will qualify them for reasonably well paying positions.  Meanwhile, no one worries much about the societal consequences of such rampant dysfunctionality.  

Those familiar with the public debate will recognize these critiques and can add many more.  I mention and to some extent exaggerate them not because I subscribe to them, but because each contains a kernel of truth we must identify and address if we expect to focus the University on the achievement of its mission and meet the challenge of our time.  We know well that perception accounts for much of what gains acceptance in the public as reality.  Thus, we will need to change public perceptions if we wish to mount an effective response to the national educational challenge before us.  

Let me state for the record that I do not accept the simplistic notion that we can do more with less, as our critics and even many supporters urge.  However, I believe we can become more efficient in using what we have, redirecting some current resources to pressing needs, thereby allowing us to achieve other institutional goals.  I also accept the arguments of former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich that only if we educate more of our citizens, helping them to prepare for meaningful and productive lives in an increasingly interdependent, global, and technological society – and in the process revitalizing the American middle class – can the United States prevail in the rising global competition.  We in public higher education will need more resources to achieve the objective, but we certainly have a foundation from which to begin that can position us well if we take the initiative.  I know such an effort will entail hard work, considerable discomfort, and some sacrifice required by changes we will have to make.  But I also believe we can and will accomplish a great deal more if we act now and take control of our own future.

Without intending to do more than suggest some targets of opportunity, I will propose a few priorities for action in the immediate future, organizing the tasks under four reform and re-invention rubrics in response to the critiques of public higher education.

  1. Engage Public K-12 Education:  Since early in the last century, an ever widening chasm has separated K-12 public education and public higher education.  Few will contend that public higher education can do its part in response to the challenge of returning the United States to world educational leadership unless public K-12 education does its part.  We have learned from experience that higher education cannot easily or rapidly overcome the disadvantages of an inadequate or ineffective K-12 education.  I do not make that comment to criticize our colleagues and their work, but only to underscore the need for collaboration to achieve mutual objectives.  What can we do?
    • Implement a pilot project for possible replication across the State with selected public school districts to align the curricula and courses of the high schools and the University, and develop appropriate assessment mechanisms to demonstrate competency outcomes, thus facilitating a smoother transition from high school to college.
    • Develop responsive and collaborative “academies” – tentatively identified during some preliminary discussions – for the teachers and administrators in the Missoula area to provide enabling and empowering professional development and training, and foster similar efforts across the State.
    • Complete the collaborative Montana Math and Science Teacher Initiative designed to assure that the State has and can retain the teachers needed in these important fields, as a model for other disciplines.
    • Develop the Virtual High School Academy funded by the Legislature, hosted by The University of Montana, based on the use of information technology, and in collaboration with the public schools and all stakeholders; and implement dual enrollment in all Missoula area high schools.
    • Collaborate with the Missoula area high schools in the development of Early College High Schools based on dual enrollment, and assist in the delivery and recognition of innovative high school curricula such as the International Baccalaureate.
  2. Rethink Undergraduate Education:  Curricular reviews typically end by rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic – to coin a phrase.  In brief, we make relatively minor changes to lists of courses that satisfy an array of degree requirements without rethinking how the parts relate to the whole.  We must focus on the competencies we believe students need in the world of today, how we can engage the students in the self-development of those competencies, and how we can accurately assess our success in this complex human undertaking, not on seat time or credits earned.  What more can we do?
    • Re-conceptualize the undergraduate major, making it relevant to the world students see around them and capitalize on their apparent desire to make a difference.  That will require reintegrating general education and the major, making the former explicitly, not just intuitively, foundational for the latter by enabling the students to discern the relationship of the general education competencies to success in the major.  We must have a design that rests solidly on value-added rather than coerced compliance.  The redesign process will pose exceptional challenges with regard to transfer students – an ever increasing percentage of our undergraduate students – thus making close cooperation with transfer institutions essential to facilitate student success.
    • Look carefully and critically at all majors to make certain that we have packaged them for efficiency, responsiveness, and effectiveness, taking advantage of information technology to provide access to self-directed study of needed information.  Wherever possible, rely on coursework from other disciplines, collaborating on assessing required educational outcomes, rather than duplicating the content or methodology in Department courses for the major.
    • Implement more “learning communities” and a “Learning Commons” to assist students in a timely way when difficulties occur and to enhance student learning, self-directed as well as guided.
    • Successfully meet or exceed our Student Success retention and graduation benchmarks mentioned earlier, always attending to the quality of the outcomes.  Every additional student we retain and graduate contributes to the campaign to return the United States to world educational leadership.
    • Make readily available on-line versions of all appropriate courses – defined by the amenableness of the content and pedagogy of the courses to the technology – and facilitate the use of on-line courses available from other campuses, thus allowing more efficient use of resources, but always with attention to attainment of identified competencies.
    • Significantly increase the number of students transferring from two-year institutions in the State to continue their education at the University, and facilitate competency assessment.
    • Participate actively in the establishment of a Virtual Community College in Montana that aggregates and coordinates on-line courses to satisfy two-year degree and certificate requirements and also responds to the needs of adult learners wherever located in the State, making the registration and other processes transparent to the users.
  3. Partner for Social and Economic Development:  The University has earned recognition for its involvement with and engaging students in the community.  The collaboration required for the creation of MonTEC, with the vital assistance of Senator Max Baucus, as a business incubator focused on economic development and technology transfer provides an example of what we can accomplish.  In addition, no one today argues with the proposition that cultural, social, and economic development depends upon the ready availability of robust and responsive education programs, K-12 as well as higher education. What more can we do?
    • Collaborate fully in convening, supporting, and participating in aMissoula Education Summit to reach consensus about how to maintain the appropriate continuum of educational services to meet needs in the Missoula area.
    • Identify and implement additional opportunities for student involvement in the community through internships, cooperative education, and community service, taking advantage of the Corporation for National and Community Service funding to respond to critical needs, while helping students to meet the costs of college.
    • Develop new partnerships for research and economic development, participating actively in the Missoula Area Economic Development Council economic strategic plan for Western Montana and enabling the new Director of Technology Transfer to make available to the private sector the technology and products developed on campus that can enhance productivity and respond to market demands.
    • Aggressively seek external funding for research supportive of desired economic development in Montana, with focused attention on sources of alternative energy, alternative transportation systems, and green industry.
    • Double the number of advanced graduate students working in the targeted fields on research projects supportive of desired economic development.
    • Redesign advanced graduate education to prepare doctoral candidates for future careers in higher education, including advanced work on instructional design, ways of knowing pertinent to the discipline, and outcomes assessment.
    • Participate fully in the ongoing collaborative effort to assure adequate bandwidth and a transport system through the Northern Tier Network and Health Information Exchange of Montana capable of meeting the information technology needs of distance education and responsive heath care.
  4. Model Best Practices for Efficiency and Effectiveness:  In recent years, the University has implemented “best practices” in its business operations, thereby freeing several million dollars for internal reallocation.  By doing so, we have managed to maintain the quality of the education while serving more students than the appropriated budget authorizes.  To date, little of this effort has occurred in the academic sector.  However, in view of the constrained expectations for State support in the immediate future, and the need to make every dollar go as far as possible as we accept the educational challenge before us, we must look carefully at all we do and identify ways to control and reduce costs.  What more can we do?
    • Participate actively in the review of the Regental allocation methodology to assure equitable responsiveness to campus needs.
    • Advocate for basing a portion of the general fund allocation from the Regents on performance standards relating to the campus achievement of retention and graduation benchmarks and “best practice” efficiencies.
    • Identify new efficiency measures that will free up funds to reallocate for student financial need and academic imperatives.  
    • Review all staffing patterns in the light of the well known, national benchmarks for University staffing and productivity, as applicable to The University of Montana, to identify possibilities for reallocation to priority areas.
    • Complete and implement the campus plan to reduce green house gas emissions by becoming more energy efficient.  In particular, review the possible development of a high-efficiency wood-burning facility for heating and energy generation, install control systems to manage energy consumption, replace inefficient windows, and make the switch to energy-efficient lighting.

These suggestions do not exhaust the possibilities, and I urge everyone to participate in the identification of other areas for consideration.  Nonetheless, this listing suffices to demonstrate that we have a wide range of possible changes that can make a difference sooner rather than later if we seize the initiative to implement them.

CONCLUSION

Before we adjourn, I ask your indulgence to present a new video developed under the leadership of Executive Vice President Jim Foley as part of our marketing effort.  The earlier videos have earned national recognition and – I believe – have helped as we seek to make people aware of the value we give for value received.  As we have learned, branding matters.
– VIDEO –
Thank you very much for all you do.  I will assist you in any way possible.  Have a great year as we work together to assure student success at The University of Montana!