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Members of the Special Review Committee
MSU Department Heads
May 18, 1998
Response to Committee Recommendations and Related Matters
First of all, a hearty thank-you to Chairman McCoy and to all the members of the Committee for a job well done. I much appreciate your acknowledgment of me, but the hard work and dedication that you contributed are what have made the achievements of the Committee so impressive.
In the following pages, I shall respond to your recommendations and observations at length.
The Preamble of the Final Report is certainly accurate in its call for enhanced partnerships with the private sector, closer governmental relationships, and even greater emphasis upon fund-raising, and underscoring the importance of governance of the four-campuses of MSU. Your often-repeated emphasis upon tightening the coordination between the Provost and the Vice President for Research is heard and well taken.
Strategic Planning and Budget Committee: This is clearly a major recommendation, and I am hereby adopting it. We have, of course, been doing strategic planning all along, but this very powerful new structure will provide much better focus. This University Budget Committee will be eliminated and the Long Range Planning Committees work will nicely dovetail with the scope and charge of this body, which will focus upon the more immediate future and upon more direct and pragmatic considerations. The makeup of the committee will be as recommended. And, per our discussion at our last meeting together, we shall explore a phasing in of the new committees membership, so that the current Special Review Committees faculty, and perhaps some other members of the Special Review Committee can serve on the new body until their replacements can be recommended in a few months. This will serve well to get the SPBC off to a fast start, which is imperative. Finally, I view the responsibilities of the SPBC to be as you describe them. Regarding new revenue sources for academic programming, I agree with your recommendation for augmentation of the administrative fee, which after a one-year diversion to budget-balancing next year, will be applied to this use. I also agree regarding summer school tuition and a Provosts reserve. I do not agree with your recommendation regarding year-end funds being automatically returned in this manner: I believe that this policy would simply ensure by this incentive that there will never be unexpended year-end funds!
Regarding the Provost: I am essentially in agreement with the recommendations. In fact, I am going beyond what is recommended in requesting a title change to the Board of Regents for this position from "Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs" to "Senior Vice President and Provost," recognizing the primary importance of this position. An early charge to the SPBC will be a reassessment of college and department budgets, also "disparities in administrative staffing." An Academic Enhancement Fund seems a good approach. I hear what you are saying about "Professional Practice" appointments. Ill be consulting with the Provost and Deans, as well as with Faculty Council, as to the best of several approaches here. Regarding Libraries, we are currently weighing options with the MSU Foundation for providing either a new building or a substantial addition. In any case, one of these courses will probably be taken.
Vice President for Research: I read your comments here, generally speaking, to endorse the MSU strategy of strong commitment to research and scholarships and to investing indirect-cost revenues directly back into supporting and fostering research as we are directed to do by legislative language. Our record here is, I believe, a strong one. In general, I agree with your admonition that all tenurable faculty should be research-scholarly active; but as indicated, I think that the question of "Professional Practice" hires does need close analysis. It relates closely with an even larger issue, I believe- - that of the hiring of adjunct faculty vis-a-vis tenurable faculty. I agree with your recommendations regarding creation of a Research Advisory Committee and a review of those areas that appear to be under-achieving in research and creativity. Obviously I also agree with the strategy of reinvesting "IDCs" in fostering further research and scholarship, including areas not traditionally grant-active. I do not agree that IDCs should not be invested in such essential needs as hazardous waste disposal and the costs of the Banner System implementation, since these investments are heavily research-intensive. However, I am willing to put this on the SPBC agenda for discussion.
Vice President for Administration: Your recommendations regarding the close support of the SPBC by the vice president and his staff and the regular reporting of budgetary and fiscal matters will be adopted. As further suggested, the Internal Auditor will begin reporting to the President on July 1, and the "recharges" budget is already being reexamined and will be modified. Deferred maintenance and capital replacement is already the subject of a University assessment and plan. You are right that funding for computing, phones, and information technology should be more regularized than deriving solely from indentures, and those vital operations will very much be a part of all future planning. Per our earlier discussions, the Office of Budget will be moved to a direct reporting line to the President, effective July 1.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs: You are correct that we need to maximize, in every way that we can, our recruitment efforts and the close collaboration between Student Services and the academic departments. I intend to recommend to the Regents this summer the redesignation of this position to its former level of Vice President, particularly in recognition of the successful decision three years ago to place Athletics under its direction. But the reporting line will remain as is- - divided by Student Services under the Provost and Athletics under the President. With the caveat that your allegation that Athletics expenditures have exceeded the growth rates of Instruction depends upon the exact time-frame being discussed. I agree that Athletics must live within its budgets like all other programs. And it will. Regarding Auxiliaries, I agree that fees must be commensurate with costs of services, and that these funds should be devoted primarily to services to students. In both cases, these have been and will be our policies.
MSU Foundation: I agree with you that Foundation policies, priorities and summaries of funds raised should be as "publically accessible as prudent practice will allow," given the fact that the Foundation is by law an "arms length" organization. In fact, your recommendations for a closer coordination between the Foundation and the Alumni Association, a "clearing house" system of fund-raising coordination, and a system of college-based fund-raisers are reflective of practices and policies already being implemented.
Again, I thank the Committee for their exceptional work. The recommendations are sound, impressive, and well taken. The great majority of them will be implemented. We are much indebted to the Committee for their dedication and for the outstanding report they have rendered.
The Special Review Committee
MAY 1, 1998
The Special Review Committee (SRC) wishes to thank all of the individuals who provided information and/or made presentations to the committee. We recognize that some of the budgetary information requested by the committee required extensive effort to prepare.
The SRC also wants to acknowledge President Michael Malone for his willingness to charge a committee with examining all aspects of the entire University. Formation of such a committee is unique in the history of Montana State University and may be unprecedented at a land-grant university. Opening all facets of the university to scrutiny is certainly an undertaking that most presidents would enter with a significant degree of trepidation. We commend President Malone for creating a committee like the SRC. Recognizing the serious budgetary constraints now facing MSU, the committee was charged with identifying potential ways to resolve our acute budgetary problems, as well as to prevent them from becoming chronic.
Special Review Committee Members:
The SRC strongly believes that MSU is at a pivotal point in its history. Our view is that MSU is an institution of rapidly emerging excellence with the potential to attain a position of national leadership among land-grant universities. Most of the elements required to achieve sustained distinction in education, research, and public service are already in place. In order to meet the challenges, capitalize on the opportunities, and realize its potential, MSU must be structured and administered in ways that permit it to take full advantage of the talent, creativity, and vision of those charged to lead this university.
Several developments suggest to us that the state and national environment for higher education has shifted and is rapidly changing.
- MSU is now part of a system of campuses.
- As state support for the university is limited, the necessity for raising support from the private sector and alumni, and through partnerships becomes acute.
- With the advent of term limits in Montana, consistent and sustained efforts to build support for the university within state government will grow in importance.
- Recent economic growth in the U.S., technological change, and the challenges of a global economy provide diverse and numerous opportunities for innovative partnerships between universities and the private sector.
- The improving federal budget offers new opportunities to secure increased federal investment in Montana.
The SRC is convinced that, in order for MSU to compete effectively in this climate, the President must be deeply and consistently engaged in all of the areas listed above. Indeed, it is fair to say that this is a national model for the role of the President at excellent universities with education and scholarship as primary missions. The office of the President at MSU has a successful record of involvement in these areas, which supports our conviction that a greater level of engagement by the President is critically important to the future of the university. The SRC believes the President will be required to assume even greater responsibilities in the following areas:
Providing leadership and governance for the MSU system so that reorganization does not negatively impact this campus, which we see as the lead institution in the system. The goal is to insure the cohesive development and vitality of the system, especially with regard to strategic planning, curriculum and program development, management, and resource allocation.
- Focusing the activities of the Office towards MSUs external constituencies, e.g. the citizens of the state, the alumni, state government, our Congressional delegation, and appropriate federal agencies.
- Increasing the level of personal involvement in fundraising and developing new partnerships with the private sector.
The SRC believes that a close working relationship
between the Provost and the Vice President for Research has been very successful in the
past and is essential to MSUs future. The President, the Provost, and the Vice
President for Research are the chief academic officers of the university, and thus must
have ready access to complete and comprehensive information regarding budgets,
programs, and planning. We believe that it is in the best interests of the university for
the chief academic officers to have primary responsibility for leadership and governance.
RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING THE CREATION OF
AND CHARGE TO THE STRATEGIC PLANNING AND
The primary and essential recommendation of the SRC is to change the strategic planning and budgeting process at MSU. Given the financial challenges facing higher education in the future, it is essential that a strategic planning process be initiated that will assess the entire university budget and develop a plan that insures the delivery of the highest quality academic programs. Given current budgetary realities we recognize that either the university must expand revenue enhancement activities or face the reality of programmatic reductions and reallocations of existing resources. Therefore, the SRC recommends the following:
Vice President for Research
Dean (selected by Deans' Council; to be eligible a Dean must be from a degree-granting college)
Academic Department Head (selected by academic department
heads; mechanism to be determined)
Faculty (3-year staggered terms; all tenure-track faculty eligible;
selected by Faculty Council)
Professional (recommendation by Professional Council; selected by
Classified (recommended by CEPAC; selected by President)
Student (input from ASMSU)
In addition, the Vice President for Administration and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs will serve as ex-officio members of the SPBC.
The existing University Budget Committee should be eliminated. The UBC as currently configured is not able to function effectively. In-depth discussions of budget issues are not feasible in such a large committee, and at the present time strategic planning does not occur in the UBC.
The Vice President for Administration as well as members of his staff who have budgetary and fiscal responsibilities will be advisory to the SPBC. The role of these individuals is to provide accurate and timely information as requested by the committee. It is expected that the VPA will provide financial data and analysis as requested. For example, the VPA will provide data on MSU indebtedness, bonding information, revenue potential from athletics, residence halls and other auxiliaries, and other financial information as requested.
Provide recommendations concerning all university program revisions, enhancements, reductions and/or eliminations. The SPBCs charge is to provide oversight concerning whether existing programs and proposed new programs fit the institutional mission, and have adequate funding and resources from either existing or proposed resources and revenue. It is not the intent of the SRC to have the SPBC supplant existing programmatic review committees, e.g. Undergraduate Studies Committee, Graduate Studies Committee or others. Rather, the charge to the SPBC is to determine whether there are adequate resources and revenue available (or proposed) to support the program.
Provide recommendations concerning revenue enhancement goals. At a minimum the SPBC should discuss institutional goals and develop recommendations concerning the following areas:
- Undergraduate and graduate student enrollment goals.
- Fundraising goals and guidelines for reaching them.
- Grants and contracts goals.
- Use of Other Lawful Purpose (OLP) funds.
- Use of auxiliaries revenue.
- Determine how to specifically meet the goals set by the Long-Range Planning Committee.
- Evaluate priorities for use of all university funds.
- Evaluate priorities for bonding programs.
- Review budget adjustments on an as-needed basis, but at least semi-annually.
POTENTIAL REVENUE SOURCES FOR AUGMENTING
The SRC defines academic programs as those programs reporting to the Provost or the Vice President for Research. The following are suggested as potential sources for augmenting academic programs:
Every summer school tuition dollar which exceeds FY98 base summer school allocation should go to the Provost. The Provost should then use this allocation to develop incentive plans to expand summer school and thus increase overall MSU enrollments.
All appropriated funds that are potentially unexpended at year-end are returned to the SPBC for recommendations regarding redistribution. Highest priority for redistribution should be the academic programs.
The Administrative fee charged on designated accounts should be raised from 1.75% to 3.0%, with at least 50% of all funds from the administrative fee raised to be placed in the Academic Program Enhancement Fund (described in the section on the Provost).
The Provost's Office should maintain a reserve for enhancing academic programs, perhaps a set-aside of tuition dollars.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING PROGRAMS
ADMINISTERED BY THE PROVOST
The SRC feels that the Provost must have access to all aspects of the MSU budget. The Provost should be knowledgeable of and have access to all categories of the University budget. As Chair of the SPBC, the Provost must provide dynamic leadership in discussions regarding the short-term strategic plan for MSU, and in determining whether all budgetary allocations fit this institution's plan and mission. The SRC believes that a high priority for the Provost and Vice President for Research should be to integrate teaching and research/creative activities as described in the 1998 Carnegie Foundation report from the Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates. (NOTE: Please refer to the short discussion of the Boyer report included with this SRC report.) The ability to integrate the resources of our research/creative activities programs and graduate education with undergraduate education is what will distinguish MSU from other four-year degree granting institutions in Montana.
General Recommendations Concerning the Provost:
It is essential that the Provost and Vice President for Research work together.
Addressing the shortage of base operating funds in instructional departments that clearly have insufficient operating funds must be a high priority. The SRC recommends a critical assessment of college and departmental operating funds be one of the highest priorities for the SPBC. In addition, potential sources of funds for augmenting instructional budgets are described in this report. It is essential that these potential funds be used for academic programs.
There should be sufficient budgetary flexibility to allow programs experiencing growth to have necessary budget adjustments. The SRC identified numerous programs on campus that have seen significant growth during the 1990s; however, funding increases have not been correlated with this growth. There needs to be an equitable funding model for the academic departments that guarantees their vitality and viability.
There are disparities in funding of colleges and departments. The Provost and appropriate Dean should address disposition in the context of mission, workload, and expectations with regard to research/creative activities and graduate education. Discussions should address the goals described in the Boyer Commission Report on Undergraduate Education.
The SRC also identified substantial disparities in administrative staffing for the various colleges. Each college's administrative structure needs to be carefully examined by the Provost for potential cost savings. Any savings identified should be reallocated.
The SRC recommends an Academic Programs Enhancement Fund be established. Sources of funds for this program could be from reallocations, a set-aside in the Provosts Office, as well as the fee on designated accounts. The purpose of the fund would be to take advantage of opportunities that would enhance instructional programs and increase revenues in a manner similar to the way IDC returns have enhanced research programs. Faculty, department heads or deans could request these funds. The SRC recommends the Academic Programs Enhancement Fund be used to support activities, such as the following:
- Programs that enhance the integration of teaching and research/creative activities for undergraduates, and/or the integration of graduate and undergraduate education.
- Faculty development.
- Spousal hires.
- Recruitment and retention programs in partnership with academic departments.
The SRC recommends the use of Professional Practice appointments be critically evaluated. There is a concern that budgetary constraints may become a justification for hiring "teaching only" faculty, rather than faculty with scholarly expectations, resulting in a significant erosion of institutional quality.
Our library is central to the teaching and research missions of MSU as a comprehensive university. In order to support our students and faculty, the library must have up-to-date electronic resources that enable us to locate and acquire materials world-wide, an on-site core collection of books and periodicals sufficient to support our residential programs, and a building capable of appropriately housing and providing access to those materials. Given the strains on the current library budget, such as the high rate of inflation in the cost of basic serials, and given the critical support the library provides for both teaching and research/creativity, the SRC recommends:
- The Provost, Vice President for Research (with the Research Advisory Committee, described later), the Deans Council, and the SPBC move forward to propose and evaluate additional forms of revenue;
- The university move forward on plans for a library addition or new library building. Even though MSU is sending this project forward to the legislature, the SRC recommends that MSU make it a high priority for the Foundation. In addition, we believe that the library, although it generates revenues indirectly rather than directly, should be reevaluated for inclusion in the university bonding program.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING PROGRAMS
ADMINISTERED BY THE VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH
The SRC strongly believes that research/creative activities and education at MSU are inseparable. A vital research and creative activities enterprise is essential to providing our students the learning experiences required for them to be productive and successful in the 21st century. We believe that a university is defined by having research- and creatively-active faculty in the classroom, and involved in all aspects of the educational enterprise. From their first year onward, undergraduates should have the opportunity to be engaged with faculty who are active scholars, and should be provided the opportunity to engage in research, scholarship, or performance.
Research is also essential to the public service responsibility of MSU. The SRC is convinced that MSU has the duty to discover and disseminate new knowledge and technologies that can benefit the people of Montana and the nation. Research and scholarship can provide new opportunities for economic development and growth, improve human health and well being, improve the productivity of agriculture and other vital sectors of the Montana economy, inform public policy, and assist in the preservation of the environment. Creative activity in the arts and humanities can enrich the lives of our people and the vitality of our communities.
Consequently, the SRC believes that all tenure-track faculty at MSU should be active in research and creative activities. The SRC recommends that the decision to implement the Professional Practice track in academic, degree-granting departments be reconsidered.
- The Vice President for Research and the Provost should work closely together to insure that the investments made by each office are compatible and complementary, especially with regard to faculty recruitment and development. The goal of this close collaboration is to enhance efforts to integrate teaching and research.
- The SRC believes that it is the responsibility of all tenure-track faculty to capitalize on opportunities to enhance or strengthen the research and creative-activities enterprise at MSU. The SRC identified some colleges and/or departments where grant and contract activity is disproportionately low compared to the opportunities for external funding available in their respective disciplines. Therefore, the SRC recommends the Provost and the Vice President for Research require plans to rectify this problem from the appropriate Dean and/or Department Head.
- The office of the Vice President for Research, the President, and the Office of University Relations should vigorously pursue enhanced state support for research and creative activities at MSU. Past efforts to secure matching funds must be continued, and efforts to secure substantial state support for research/creativity infrastructure should be expanded.
- The SRC recommends that the Vice President for Research establish a Research Advisory Committee, composed of faculty who are active in research or creative activities, and representative of the disciplines at MSU.
- The SPBC should immediately undertake a review of graduate education at MSU with the goals of increasing graduate enrollment and the effectiveness of our graduate programs.
Indirect Cost Returns:
The externally-funded research activities of MSU contribute enormously and directly to the quality of both undergraduate and graduate education. Examples include: (1) funding of undergraduate and graduate stipends; (2) equipment purchased with research funding also serving secondary, but critical instructional roles; (3) operating expenses for undergraduate and graduate research; (4) acquisition of modern computing facilities that are used by students; (5) support for student travel to professional meetings and workshops. In addition, the indirect cost (IDC) returns to colleges, departments, and individual investigators provide substantial support to numerous endeavors on campus, including: maintenance and renovation of the physical plant; acquisition and maintenance of equipment, computational resources, and support facilities; support for critically needed staff; professional development of faculty and staff; on-campus jobs for students; and more. All of these uses of IDCs are fully consistent with existing policy mandating that IDCs be used for research-related purposes, and serve as one more illustration of the fact that research and education are not separable at MSU. With these facts in mind, the SRC makes the following recommendations and comments regarding the use of IDCs:
The IDC pool is an important investment pool for future growth, and past investments from IDCs have reaped enormous benefits for this institution.
- The use of IDCs should be to reinvest in the research/creative activities of the faculty. The current practice should be maintained. The objective should be to invest these funds to increase the competitiveness, productivity and health of the research/creative activities and educational missions of MSU.
- Consistent with current practice, IDCs should NOT be diverted to support the routine operations and maintenance of the university. The SRC is convinced that diversion of IDCs to support activities such as building maintenance, utilities costs, hazardous waste operations, and administrative computing costs is unwise. We recommend that the recent decision to fund part of the Banner 2000 costs from IDCs be regarded as a one year commitment unless continuation is recommended by the SPBC. Deans and Department Heads may consider the use of IDCs returned to them to support research-related infrastructure or operations needs, consistent with current practice. We recommend that the Vice President for Research and the Research Advisory Committee consider all requests for one-time needs for investment of IDCs to support research/creative activities-related infrastructure, and present their recommendations to the SPBC.
- The IDC-generating enterprise at MSU is sufficiently established to permit the use of some IDC revenue to foster the growth of research/creative activities in those areas that have very limited opportunities to pursue external funding. The recent investment in the arts and humanities through a competitive program internal to MSU is applauded, and this program should be continued and augmented in the future. The Vice President for Research and the Research Advisory Committee should establish a continuing funding formula that fosters continued growth in research and creative activity in the arts and humanities.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING PROGRAMS
ADMINISTERED BY THE VICE PRESIDENT
Budget and Finance:
The VPA is the primary financial advisor in the planning and budgeting process. The critical nature of budget and finance in strategic planning and decision-making necessitates that the VPA maintain a unique fiduciary relationship with regard to these activities and the information under his/her control. Therefore, the SRC makes the following recommendations with respect to the budget and finance operation of the VPA:
- As described elsewhere, the budget and finance staff serve as advisors to the SPBC and are crucial to its performance. This does not prevent the full and complete participation of the VPA in any executive discussions deemed necessary or desirable by the President or in planning and budgeting for the operations under his/her control. However, the President, Provost, and Vice President for Research must be the primary source of prioritization and decision-making.
- It is vital that central administration, the campus community and citizens of the state have access to and knowledge of the financial affairs of the campus. The VPA should implement procedures and policies necessary to ensure that responses to requests for information are timely, accurate, and understandable.
- Thoughtful analysis and lucid reporting of financial data are important to the University in planning and measuring performance. This is a primary responsibility of the VPA and the SRC recommends that a program of regular reporting of significant budgetary and financial matters be implemented.
- The SRC recommends the internal auditor report to the President.
- The recharges budget needs to be re-examined. Recharges should be assessed on an equitable and defensible basis.
This Committee appreciates the level of service being provided by Facilities Services in spite of the obvious shortages of funding. The condition of the physical plant is critical to the successful operation of the academic and administrative enterprise and must be adequately funded. It is essential that the existing plant be maintained and modernized. The SRC is aware that the work done by Facilities Services for departments is widely viewed as unduly expensive. We believe the problem stems from funding shortfalls for Facilities Services Operations. The SRC makes the following recommendations:
- MSU should develop a plan to eliminate the backlog of deferred maintenance and capital replacement, a plan based on the strategic priorities of the University.
- MSU should fund staff and operations in Facilities Services in accordance with the strategic plans and priorities of the University.
- Departments should be provided with sufficient operating capital to invest in maintenance and modernization within their own physical plants if they are to be effective in education and scholarship.
The importance of computing to the administrative, instructional and scholarly activities of this campus mandates that this operation be fully integrated into the strategic planning and budgeting process.
- Funding for computing, telephone, and information technology should not be accomplished solely through periodic indentures. These technologies are critical to the success of the Institution and must be maintained to maximize the efficacy of the instructional, scholarly and administrative efforts.
- The strategic planning and budgeting process should identify revenue streams to provide for the continual modernization and renovation of the technology plant.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE PROGRAMS
ADMINISTERED BY THE VICE PROVOST FOR
Student Affairs must continue to maintain basic student services, such as financial aid, admissions, registration, career services, and counseling. Student Affairs must continue to develop programs that enhance students academic and personal development, including leadership development, wellness, student activities and multicultural awareness. In addition, Student Affairs must manage facilities, such as residence halls, the student union, health services, and recreational and athletic facilities in ways that meet the needs of our students.
- More attention needs to be focused on the academic and personal development of students by encouraging greater integration of academic and student services, and working to ensure that students can satisfactorily complete degree requirements in a timely way.
- MSU should enhance its recruitment efforts by revitalizing our partnerships among MSU New Student Services, academic departments and Montana elementary and secondary schools. The goal is to create a seamless educational continuum for Montana students that can improve preparedness and subsequent success at this demanding institution.
- MSU should continue and expand our recruitment efforts, especially of top- quality students.
- Students should receive support outside of class that ensures their success in the classroom. The SRC believes that funding of the critical areas mentioned above be protected.
The SRC recognizes the importance of intercollegiate athletics at a land-grant university and realizes that a Division I athletic program is the appropriate position for Montana State University. Athletics plays an important public relation and recruiting role for the campus. It also has a major impact on the campus as well as the non-campus community (Bozeman as well as the entire state of Montana). However, annual expenditures by Athletics have increased at a rate greater than expenditures for instructional budgets.
- In the past, athletics has enjoyed a relatively privileged position. The athletics budget should be held to the same level of fiscal accountability as the academic departments.
- All commitments made among athletics, auxiliaries, and the Boosters should be fulfilled regarding the stadium and fieldhouse renovation projects.
The health and stability of the auxiliary operation is an essential obligation of the University to its students.
- Fees charged for auxiliary services should be commensurate with the cost of those services including the costs required for maintenance and replacement.
- Because revenue from auxiliaries is substantially derived from student sources, auxiliary funds should be used primarily for enhancing services to students. All other proposed uses of these funds should be reviewed by the SPBC.
Special Review Committees Commentary on the Carnegie Foundation Report from The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates "REINVENTING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION: A Blueprint for Americas Research Universities"
The 1998 Carnegie Foundation Report entitled "Reinventing Undergraduate Education" describes a radical new model for undergraduate education in the 21st century. Central to this model is the idea that "inquiry, investigation and discovery are at the heart of the enterprise." As this report indicates, "Everyone at a university should be a discoverer, a learner." Not only should all faculty be engaged in the process of discovery, but all students should be as well. The challenge to the research university is to integrate all of its students into research and creative activities from the first through the senior year.
Since the Boyer Commission Report was released during final deliberations of the SRC, the committee decided to take the opportunity to offer a brief commentary. The comments below offer examples of how MSU is actively addressing several of the Reports goals. In addition, many of the SRC recommendations will help MSU attain the various goals outlined in the report.
MSU is well positioned to embrace this new model of undergraduate education. First and foremost, MSU has an excellent faculty with national prestige, most with active programs in research and creative activity.
Secondly, MSU is small enough to make real change a possibility. MSU is neither a large research university (which is too unwieldy for systemic change) nor a liberal arts college (which often lacks a strong research base). Critics of change will cite a lack of resources to achieve these goals; however, these changes would most certainly increase retention, aid recruitment, and improve MSU's reputation with citizens of Montana and with the state legislature.
Thirdly, the current fiscal crisis is a mandate for change. There are only a few mechanisms for increasing revenue at MSU: more tuition dollars (by increasing enrollment), more federal dollars (by increasing contract and grants activities), and more public and private donations (through Foundation activity). Until these sources of revenue increase significantly, faculty and administration must find creative ways to use the available resources more effectively to support a quality academic program.
The SRC endorses the Boyer Commission report and recommends that it be used with the Long-Range Plan to improve the quality of undergraduate and graduate education at MSU. The SRC recognizes that faculty at MSU have already implemented many of the recommendations in the report. Selected examples include a thriving undergraduate research program, an award winning first-year seminar program, re-designed courses and integrated curricula in a variety of fields, and increased funding for curriculum development.
Furthermore, many of the specific recommendations made by the SRC in its report are closely aligned with the goals of the Boyer Commission Report. Examples of these recommendations and their relationship to a few of the goals of a new model of undergraduate education are discussed below.
The Boyer commission recommends: Make research-based learning the standard. "Students should be taught by those who discover, create, and apply, as well as transmit insights about subjects in which the teacher is expert."
To meet this challenge, the SRC believes that all tenure-track faculty in the classroom should be teacher-scholars and be active in research/creative activities. All undergraduates should be provided the opportunity to become engaged in research/creative activities with faculty mentors from the first year onward. The following recommendations of the SRC are critical to achieving these goals:
- All faculty share the responsibility to capitalize on opportunities to enhance or strengthen the research/creative activities at MSU. These activities include individual research and creative programs as well as federally funded curriculum development.
- Indirect Cost Returns should be used to reinvest in the research/creative activities of the faculty in all disciplines.
- A close working relationship between the Provost and the VP for Research will forge a critical link between teaching and research/creative activities.
- The establishment of an Academic Programs Enhancement Fund in the office of the Provost could be used to revise and improve current curricula, to enhance research opportunities for undergraduates, and to support multi-disciplinary curricular efforts across departments and colleges.
- Limiting Professional Practice appointments will insure that all tenure-track faculty in the classroom are active scholars engaged in research and creative activities.
- Disparities of funding of colleges and departments should be addressed with respect to mission, workload and expectations with regard to research/creative activities and graduate education.
- The Boyer commission recommends: Remove barriers to interdisciplinary education. "The principal barrier to interdisciplinary research and study has been the pattern of university organization that creates vested interests in traditionally defined departments."
The SRC notes the following relative to this issue:
- Evaluating departments based on student credit hours per instructional FTE provides a strong disincentive to the development of multi-disciplinary integrated curricula that span departments and colleges.
- The Academic Enhancement Fund could be used as an incentive to support interdepartmental curriculum development efforts.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE MSU FOUNDATION
The SRC encourages the promising efforts of the Foundation to rebuild its effectiveness in support of fundraising and alumni relations. The University administration and the Foundation directorship should work together to ensure that the highest priority for the Foundation is enhancing the learning environment at Montana State University.
In support of the Foundations overall mission, the SRC recommends the following:
For the long-term credibility and support of the Foundation, the policies, summarized accounts, and priorities of the Foundation should be as publicly accessible as prudent practice will allow.
Through broad input, the Foundation should establish a multi-tiered system for addressing fund-raising (including the college development network and central foundation personnel) by matching development resources with the most beneficial and appropriate opportunities.
In addition, the SRC recommends that the Foundation should:
Enhance efforts to encourage donations to academic-related programs;
Establish firm policies to direct the efforts of central Foundation personnel to large-donor opportunities in conjunction with the appropriate college development officer (CDO) assigned to grassroots development;
Expand efforts to enhance the development of fundraising activities for all academic constituencies;
Seek and encourage better coordination between the Alumni Association and the Foundation;
Create a clearing-house for 501(c)3 entities for centralized reporting to improve donor contact and communication;
Provide the central organizational structure and funding support for a coordinated but independent college development officer program in all University colleges by:
- collaborating with the CDOs to coordinate faculty and students as facilitators in support of large Foundation projects,
- fostering entrepreneurial development in the CDO network by acting as the central coordinator and training center.