TitleBase and Bridge Funding to Accommodate the Unfunded Teaching of BIOB 160 Lecture and BIOB 170IN Lab Classes by LRES and Ecology Request Date2012-11-29
DepartmentLand Resources and Environmental Sciences; Ecology
RequestorTracy Sterling Phone406-994-4605
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts Many departments across multiple Colleges (COA, COEng, CLS, COEd) require their majors to take BIOB 160 and 170. Majors enrolling more than 10 students per semester in BIOB 160 and 170 over the past five years have included: AgricEduc, AnimalSci, BioSci, BioTech, CivEng, EnvHort, EnvSci, FoodNut, HealthHumanPerf, LandResources, Microbiology, NatResSci, PreVet, UnivStudies.
Proposed Dates Start: FY14 End:  
BIOB 160 and BIOB 170IN provide a two-course fundamental sequence in Biology for many majors on the MSU-Bozeman campus, teaching over 2000 SCHs annually. The courses require instructional management and support from four MSU departments, structured by an inter-College agreement in 2005. However, two lines associated with these courses were never funded and have relied on instructional overload in one case (instruction of BIOB 160), and non-base budgeting in the other (lab coordination for BIOB 170). This proposal requests bridge funding for BIOB 160 lecture instruction, and base funding for BIOB 170 laboratory coordination.
Strategic Objective supported by this request: Learning -- Funding for this proposal would provide seamless instruction and coordination of critical STEM and CORE 2.0 coursework for numerous majors and thousands of SCHs at MSU-Bozeman
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       39345   9000    0.85 
Benefits       12861  2942     
Materials & Supplies              
Contracted Services              
Other Operations              
TOTAL 52206  11942    0.85 
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

BIOB 160 Lectures:  A total OTO of $11,942 is requested to pay for an instructor to teach two sections of BIOB 160 during the first half of Spring 2015.  Spring 2015 (FY14) – Salary and Benefits = $9,000 + $2,942 = $11,942

BIOB 170 Laboratories:  An annual base of $39,345 + benefits is requested to pay for Lab Coordinator, Dr. David Willey to manage all sections annually of BIOB 170 lab both semesters.  This has been annually provided by the Supplemental Budget from L&S, but this Investment Proposal request incorporates it into the base budget.  The Lab Coordinator for BIOB 160 is already in the base budget, and that should also be the case for BIOB 170.

Describe the Proposal

Background:  BIOB 160 (Principles of Living Systems) and BIOB 170IN (Organismal Biology) provide a one-year, two-course fundamental sequence for many majors on the MSU-Bozeman campus, teaching over 2000 SCHs annually.  The courses are organized as a 3-credit lecture with a 1-credit, 2-hour laboratory each, with instructional management and support from four MSU departments (Ecology, LRES, Microbiology and PSPP).  This model was the result of the 2005 Biology Curriculum Task Force which was charged with the following:  “In response to difficulties surrounding the preparation and delivery of BIOL 102 in Fall 2004, the Deans of the College of Agriculture (Jacobsen) and the College of Letters and Science (Steen) in January 2005 named a Biology Curriculum Task Force with the following charge:  Propose to us an organizational structure by which the entire introductory biology curriculum can be managed, with regard to lab coordinator, GTAs, texts, labs, fees/costs, etc. so that the questions that arose this year will not rise again and that all relevant parties understand who bears responsibility for each and every aspect of the introductory biology curriculum. Please use historical information to make the best available projections on issues such as enrollment shifts to reallocate scarce resources or request new resources. This will optimize resource use (faculty, staff, facilities, etc.) to ensure a high quality educational experience ....required for student retention and success”.  The Task Force did just that: “putting in place a management process that respects the interdisciplinary and interdepartmental nature of biology instruction, is responsive to changing needs of students and developments in teaching, and  most important  provides an exemplary academic experience for MSU students.”  Most importantly, Biology instruction for the 100-level, two-course series has been seamless since then; however, two lines were never fully funded and have relied on  1.) instructional overload in the one case (instruction of BIOB 160 Lecture every other spring as an overload by Dr. Bob Peterson), and 2.) non-base budgeting in the other (Lab Coordination for BIOB 170 is from the CLS supplemental budget, rather than base budget).  Therefore, this proposal requests bridge funding for BIOB 160 lecture instruction, and base funding for BIOB 170 Laboratory Coordination.

1.  BIOB 160 Lecture Bridge Funding – Seeking OTO funds for an unfunded program:

Since 2004, a tenure-track faculty member from the College of Agriculture has taught BIOL 102 (now BIOB 160 – Principles of Living Systems) on a volunteer basis. The volunteer, Dr. Bob Peterson, has taught this course every other spring semester to between 190 and 250 students each time. The course in spring semester has two Monday-Wednesday-Friday lecture sections that are offered back-to-back at 12 noon to 12:50 p.m. and 1:10 p.m. to 2 p.m. The same lecture is given twice each day.

Using MAES resources to fund teaching mission:  The course has been taught every even spring by Dr. Peterson in excess of his 18% teaching appointment and without added compensation each time. Therefore, the course has been supported by the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) because Dr. Peterson has taught it using the time that would have been devoted to his MAES appointment and responsibilities.  Please note that LRES is in the College of Agriculture (COA) which is structured differently from other academic units on campus; the COA has three major sources of funding with the funding split in LRES as follows: 

-       69% from Montana Agriculture Experiment Station for our Research mission;

-       26% from the MSU Provost which is assigned to the COA Dean as COA funds to fund our Teaching mission; and

-       5% from the Cooperative Extension Service for our Extension mission. 

Given the LRES teaching budget makes up 26% of our total budget, and all our faculty are teaching at their full load, we do not have additional funds or personnel in our budget to cover the cost of teaching BIOB 160.  This is further supported by the FY10 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) values.  LRES SFTE has doubled over the last 10 years while our instructional TT FTE has remained fairly constant ranging from 6 to 7 FTE; while LRES’ teaching FTE is above the MSU mean for Department SCH taught per instructional FTE (LRES is at 130% of peers, 10th out of 33 MSU departments), LRES is consistently below the MSU mean for:

-       Instructional Expenditures per SCH on Personnel (LRES is at 75% of peers, 21st out of 33 departments).

-       Instructional Expenditures per Student FTE (LRES is at 68% of peers, 27th out of 33 departments).

Commitment to Obligations:  LRES is obligated to teach the first half of the course each spring as per an agreement in May 2005 (see attached Biology Curriculum Task Force Report) between Deans Jeff Jacobsen (College of Agriculture) and Dean Sara Jayne Steen (College of Letters and Sciences).  LRES faculty member, Dr. Bob Peterson, was asked to teach BIOB 160 every other spring for a few years as overload with the promise of added compensation which was never actually awarded to him, and will no longer teach this course every other spring.  During alternate years, LRES faculty member Dr. John Priscu teaches the course, but in this case, BIOB 160 is formally recognized as a component of his teaching appointment.  To help us fulfill our obligation of teaching BIOB 160, Dr. Priscu now teaches every even spring; however, we are still left without an instructor for every odd-numbered spring semester.  There is no adjunct funding for LRES to teach the course when it is offered during odd-numbered spring semesters; hence, we are making this request.

Short- and Long-term solutions:  Dr. Peterson will not be teaching BIOB 160 again. Therefore, for the first time since 2004, the course will be a teaching expectation of LRES and there will not be a volunteer to teach it. Consequently, an arrangement must be made soon for a funding line for this course.  For many years now, LRES and MAES have subsidized the course (see KPI numbers above). It is time to align the expectation that LRES will contribute to the course with the funding necessary to make this possible.

Because this freshman-level course is required for numerous majors at MSU and because of its high enrollment, formal funding needs to be instituted so that LRES can hire an instructor to teach BIOB 160 in Spring 2015 (LRES will be hiring Dr. Amy Trowbridge as a spousal accommodation Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) hire in Spring 2013; we are only able to do this because Dean Jacobsen allowed a OTO use of salary savings to bridge this course), after which LRES will have incorporated this course into the teaching responsibilities of a new hire as retirements occur. Ideally, this funding would be in the form of a targeted investment to provide a longer-term bridge for funding of the course, so that LRES could continue to offer this strategic course in perpetuity.

2.  BIOB 170 Laboratory Coordination Base Funding - Seeking base funds for an unfunded program: 

In 2004 a competitive search was held for a 0.75 FTE lab coordinator for BIOL 101 (now BIOB 170).  Dr. David Willey was selected as the lab coordinator.  However, no base funding was budgeted for the position requiring annual requests of the L&S supplemental budget.  BIOB 170 cannot function without a lab coordinator.

Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

1.  BIOB 160 Lecture Funding - The impacts and benefits of funding this bridge component of the proposal will:

-       Allow LRES to continue to meet the obligations of the 2005 Biology Curriculum Task Force, and provide instructors for BIOB 160 in Spring 2015 (FY14), funding that was absent in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

-       Allow LRES the time to realign teaching responsibilities of a new hire who would be expected to teach BIOB 160 as documented in a letter of hire (LRES anticipates some retirements in the next few years); this alignment is consistent with the Task Force’s goals of reducing the difficulties of consistently delivering BIOB 160.

-       Reduce the use of MAES funds to support LRES’ teaching mission.

-       Allow LRES to continue offering this strategic course in perpetuity.

-       Better align KPIs for LRES with actual teaching productivity and budgeted faculty workload.

-       By providing a spousal accommodation teaching opportunity for Dr. Amy Trowbridge, Chemical Ecologist, who has excellent teaching credentials and will be teaching BIOB 160 in 2013, MSU will be able to retain the very productive and energetic Assistant Professor Dr. Paul Stoy in LRES, as well as increase the number of female PhDs in the STEM field on campus while poising Dr. Trowbridge for tenure-track opportunities, goals which are consistent with the newly awarded NSF-ADVANCE grant.

2.  BIOB 170 Laboratories - The impacts and benefits of funding this base budget component of the proposal will:

-       Allow Ecology to continue to meet the obligations of the 2005 Biology Curriculum Task Force, and provide base pay for BIOB 170 lab instruction both semesters  without needing to ask for funds from the CLS Supplemental Budget. 


Implementation Plan

If funded:

1.  BIOB 160 Bridge Funding - If funded, the LRES department head will hire a qualified instructor for Spring 2015 (FY14); the stipend of $9,000 plus benefits is requested to assure a qualified, experienced instructor can be recruited.  A stipend of $9,000 plus benefits was paid the previous time this course was taught by an adjunct (Dr. Christine Foreman taught BIOB 160 for LRES in Spring 2011 while Dr. Priscu was on sabbatical leave, and taught BIOL 404, Limnology for Ecology in 2007 – a $9,000 plus benefits stipend was paid for each of these adjunct teaching appointments).  In addition, the LRES department head will work with the COA Dean as positions become available to incorporate BIOB 160 as part of a new faculty member’s teaching responsibilities.

2.  BIOB 170 Base Funding – If funded, the Ecology department head will have an annual budget to fund the lab coordinator position for BIOB170IN held by Dr. Willey.

If not funded:

The LRES department head will ask the Provost to revisit the 2005 Biology Curriculum Task Force findings and bring them into alignment with current campus needs and resources.  Those department heads from Departments obligated to teach the fundamental 100-level biology courses on campus have discussed this (Ecology – Roberts, LRES – Sterling, Microbiology – Jutila, PSPP – Sherwood), and agree that a sustainable solution for these gaps is needed. 

Assessment Plan

BIOB 160 instructor during Spring 2015 will be evaluated using a mid-term evaluation as implemented by the department head, and the semester-end Climate Student Evaluation instrument, as well as by the Peer Review process already actively used in the LRES department to assess instructional efficacy.  The LRES Department Head will incorporate BIOB 160 as a job responsibility in new positions as they open up and as is appropriate to the disciplinary hire.

BIOB 170 lab coordinator already is annually evaluated and that will remain the case. 

Given that these two courses generate 2000 SCH each year, bridge and base funding is a smart investment.

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

If there is an inadequate instructor, the department head will find another instructor as soon as possible.

Department Head: Tracy Sterling (
Dean/Director: Jeff Jacobsen (
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (