Montana State University

Students, faculty and staff invited to April 4 Bozeman listening session on expansion of two-year education

March 29, 2012 -- MSU News Service

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Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to two listening sessions to be held April 4 about the role Gallatin College Programs will play in the Montana Board of Regents' efforts to extend comprehensive two-year education in Montana. The sessions will also gather input on the regents' goal of rebranding and renaming the state's two-year institutions.

The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education will take input at both sessions. The first session will be from 3:10 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on the Montana State University campus in 1-119 Wilson Hall. The second will be from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., in Larkspur Room A at the Hilton Garden Inn, 2023 Commerce Way. Refreshments will be served at both sessions.

The sessions are part of the College!Now initiative and follow sessions at Montana's five colleges of technology held last fall.

The College!NOW initiative is part of a grant from the Lumina Foundation, in which Montana was selected as one of only seven states nationwide for funding to strengthen its two-year colleges and increase access to affordable higher education options for all Montanans.

"Our grant proposal to Lumina highlighted the challenges and opportunities in Montana for two-year education," said John Cech, deputy commissioner for two-year and community college education. "As we all know, Montana is a wonderfully unique state with our own set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to higher education. Through College!NOW, we're looking at those challenges and finding creative ways to address them."

The College!NOW initiative is an opportunity for Montana to strengthen its higher education system and provide more opportunities for those who are looking to further their education, said Clay Christian, Montana Commissioner for Higher Education.

"Whether it's a high school graduate looking for an economical option for college or a professional looking to get another degree, our two-year institutions are well suited to help out. That's what College!NOW is all about," Christian said.

"One challenge is the simple misperception of two-year education," Cech said. "It's not only a tech degree or a certificate. Those are available, but so are transfer degrees and continuing education. Two-year education is exciting, and we're preparing to tell that story, these listening sessions are the first step in that process."

Expanding the two-year education mission through Gallatin College Programs will allow the Montana University System to better meet the workforce needs of local industry and provide access to higher education to students that are not currently engaged, said Montana State University President Waded Cruzado.

Contact: John Cech, deputy commissioner for two-year and community college education, 406-670-0848, jcech@montana.edu