TitleAssociate Dean of Students Request Date2012-12-06
DepartmentDean Of Students
RequestorMatthew Caires Phone994-2826
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts  
Proposed Dates Start: July 2013 End:  
Hire an Associate Dean of Students to be responsible for coordinating three current students of concern programs, while also providing oversight of a number of new services. The Associate Dean of Students will: coordinate MSUís Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT), Students of Concern Team (SOCT),and chair the MSU Campus Safety and Welfare Committee (CSWC); offer proactive interventions for student safety and wellbeing after receiving reports from faculty,students and parents; offer consultation and support to MSU faculty during their work with students who are safety risks, disruptive in the classroom, or demonstrate threatening behavior.
This proposal supports the following MSU Objectives:
L.2 Increase graduation rates at MSU
E.1 Strategically increase service, outreach and engagement at MSU
A.1 Educate more students while maintaining the quality of our programs

This proposal will enable us to help student persist and success at MSU. Please see the proposal scope and broader impacts sections below for details on how this proposal supports these 3 objectives.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       55000      1.0 
Benefits       17600       
Materials & Supplies              
Contracted Services              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 72600    1.0 
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.
Describe the Proposal

Last year, we had a long-standing Associate Dean of Students accept a new professional position in the MSU Veteran’s Center.  For the last 15 years, this position was dedicated primarily to manage our Student Conduct program.  The Dean of Students reorganized the Student Conduct program with a .50 FTE Student Conduct Coordinator position, along with creating six (6) University Hearing Officer positions who work 3-4 hours per week with student conduct issues in the DOS office.  These changes are moving our Student Conduct program to a more educational and less adversarial type of program.

The Dean of Students Office should serve as the University clearinghouse to “connect the dots” when faculty, staff, parents and students bring other students to our attention who might need our help or intervention.  Filling the Associate Dean of Students position with a focus on students of concern is one way to help ensure that “something gets done” and lessens the likelihood of a campus tragedy.

Students of concern programs, support and interventions are not exempt from the increased demands from increased enrollment.  In fact there is a compounding effect with increasing enrollment and the types of issues this generation of students are bringing with them to campuses.  Research shows that students at post-secondary institutions today are reporting dramatic increases in both mental health disorders and severe psychological problems.  The literature also indicates that campus violence and student suicide rates are also increasing across the country. 

Applications to our CSWC have increased from 20-30 to approximately 200 annually in the last five years.  Our students are bringing more complex and increasingly difficult behavioral problems into the classroom and onto campus.  The investment the Budget Council and President Cruzado made into MSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services last year was a necessary first step in supporting our growing number of students and their mental health needs.  This proposal is a necessary step forward in a proactive way in working with these students and connecting the data that we gather through our students of concern programs. 


Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

A “student of concern” is any student who is referred to the DOS office for the fear or concern of harming himself or herself or someone else in our campus community.  For example, each year the Campus Safety and Welfare Committee (CSWC) reviews approximately 200 students for admissions.  These are students who in the past have: 1) committed a felony or a violent crime; 2) are currently listed as a registered sex offender; or 3) have been suspended or expelled from another higher education institution. The Students of Concern Team (SOCT) has approximately 150 students in our database that have come to our attention by direct referral from faculty, staff or students.  Members of the Behavior Intervention Team annually respond to 40-50 incidents of violence or threats of violence to individual students or other members of our campus community. 

Currently there are 3.75 FTE in the Dean of Students office who share the workload of managing our students of concern programs and interventions.  They include a full-time Dean, two (2) full-time Asst. Deans, a .50 FTE Student Conduct Coordinator, and a .25 FTE shared with the Veteran’s Center.  However, this administrative staff also has the responsibility to manage and support existing programs such as the Parent and Family Association, Fraternity & Sorority Affairs, Women’s Center, Office of Activities and Engagement, Diversity Awareness Office, Recreational Sports and Fitness, Student Conduct and the overall supervision of the DOS Office.

The downside to this model is there is not a specific staff member who supports our students of concern programs or caseload. Adding an Associate Dean of Students as a new 1.0 FTE with the primary focus of students of concern will help lessen the likelihood of a report or referral “slipping through the cracks.”  We should also see a direct benefit to retention rates, overall campus safety and wellbeing, and hopefully reduce the likelihood of a major campus tragedy like the examples we’ve seen at Northern Illinois and Virginia Tech in the past decade. 

Everyday this semester, Matt Caires and other staff members in the Dean of Students office have responded to a report of a “student of concern.”   Some days, there are multiple reports to respond to.  These reports include students who talk about killing themselves or students who are hospitalized for actually attempting to commit suicide or students who have threatened violence or committed violence towards someone else on campus.  On two separate occasions this year, MSU students have taken their own lives.  There’s no fail-safe way for a college or university to guarantee that their campus will be 100% violence-free.  However, the number one lesson that colleges and universities learned after the Virginia Tech tragedy is that we have to be more vigilant in engaging students who are reported to be violent to themselves or to others; we need to do a better job in “connecting the dots” when we receive referrals while becoming more proactive in our response. 

The Associate Dean of Students will be a key staff member in this work.  One broader impact of this proposal is that once MSU becomes more proficient at supporting our students of concern, this should have a beneficial response in our overall student retention rates. 

The Associate Dean of Students will also become MSU’s lead staff member in responding to reports from parents or family members when they are concerned about the health/wellbeing of their student.  Because this position will not be housed in the Counseling Center, the Associate Dean will be able to respond to reports and conduct interventions in a way not possible for the staff in the Counseling Center.  This staff person will be able to be response to parents’ concerns and help get students up to the Counseling Center when they need help. 

One key outside player in this work and supporting these students is the Gallatin Mental Health Center and their staff at the Hope House.  Approximately 50-100 MSU students are hospitalized at the Hope House annually for self-inflicted harm or suicidal ideation.  The Associate Dean of Students will become MSU’s lead liaison with the Hope House once students are released from their care.  The Associate Dean will assist that student’s transition back into the classroom and support them in their on-going counseling and therapy. 

Finally, the Associate Dean of Students will become the DOS office’s lead support staff in working with faculty on students of concern.  Matt Caires states that he has received 73 reports this fall from MSU faculty about students of concern.  Examples of the types of reports include students with severe observable eating disorders, observed students who have cut themselves, faculty worried after hearing a comment that a student “might kill himself” if they don’t pass a test, or a student reporting that God talks to him about doing a “Columbine-style” shooting at MSU.  Engaging faculty and coaching them on how to respond to these types of reports will be a major facet of the Associate Dean’s roll on campus. 


Implementation Plan

If this Investment Proposal is supported, our goal will be to conduct a national search in the spring and ideally have the Associate Dean of Students hired and on campus by the fall 2013. 

Assessment Plan

We currently have lots of data on the numbers of students utilizing the Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) and the Disability Support Services (DSS) office.  We also have a year of data collected on the numbers and types of reports that we’ve received for students of concern.  The Associate Dean of Students will be vital in helping to keep track of these numbers while creating new data on student retention, time to degree, and overall academic success of students who utilize the variety of our existing services and will improve collaboration between DOS, CPS and DSS. 

If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

There will be annual assessments of the effectiveness of the programs led by the Associate Dean of Students utilizing the data generated. In addition the Associate Dean will be evaluated annually per MSU guidelines. If either review indicates that the Dean of Students Office should pursue a different strategy it will absolutely do so.

Department Head: Kiah Abbey (
Dean/Director: Matthew Caires ( )
Executive/VP: James Rimpau (