Montana State University

Communication from MSU Provost Martha Potvin re: Reorganization of Academic Affairs

May 4, 2011

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
To the MSU Community,

My first few months at MSU have been exciting and informative. I have found that the university has reached a size and point in its development that a different reporting structure for Academic Affairs could better serve students and faculty so that they can achieve their potential and ultimately, could better serve the institution's land-grant mission. While not all of the details have been finalized, I am sharing my plan in this communication and will implement it over the next 12 months. The plan is intended to be flexible and may need to be modified in the future. The basic elements include minor title, reporting, and location changes to improve communication, efficiency, and productivity, and position restructuring to enhance faculty development and to support strategic progress towards academic excellence.

A lead associate provost will oversee several program directors, assist with provost/vice president of Academic Affairs responsibilities, and serve in my absence. Jeff Adams will serve in this role through July 2011. In August, Jeff will be leaving MSU to become associate provost at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

A second associate provost will be responsible for accreditation, assessment and program review. This role has become increasingly important given the recent change in our regional accreditation standards to a 7-year continuous improvement cycle with biennial reporting, necessary linkages between budgeting and planning, and closing the loop on outcomes assessment. I intend to conduct an internal search to fill this position.

The position of finance director will not be filled. Terry Leist, interim vice president of of administration and finance, will be working with his staff to provide our office and the deans' offices with necessary financial information. This will result in operational efficiencies gained by working across units rather than creating or maintaining duplication.

Several units within the Division of Health Science will be relocated to academic colleges. The intent is to strengthen them through increased faculty input and interaction with a goal of creating distinction in the health and biomedical sciences at MSU.

  • Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and the Montana Office of Rural Health (MORH) will report to the dean of the College of Nursing.
  • Health Professions Advising, the Post-Baccalaureate Pre-medical Certificate and the Masters in Health Sciences will report to the dean of the College of Letters and Science. A review of pre-professional advising at MSU will be conducted in the upcoming year.
  • A national search will begin as soon as possible for a permanent director of the WWAMI Medical Education Program. The director will report to the provost. This program will become a signature program for MSU and include broad involvement of faculty and clinical partners in Montana as well as staff and administrators from the University of Washington. Professor Mark Jutila has agreed to chair this search.
  • American Indian Research Opportunities (AIRO) will report to the dean of the College of Engineering on an interim basis pending a comprehensive review of all Native American programs on campus. Dean Robert Marley has agreed to lead this review.

The title for the position of vice-provost for International Programs will become executive director of International Programs.

The title for the position of vice-provost for Graduate Education and dean of the Graduate Program will become dean of the Graduate School to reflect the recent elevation of the program to school status. The dean of the Graduate School will be a full member of Deans' Council.

The dean of Gallatin College Programs will report to the provost and will be a full member of the Deans' Council.

The position of vice provost and director of MSU Extension has been retitled to vice president for external relations and director of MSU Extension and, as of January 2011, reports to the president.

The title for the position of dean of the Museum of the Rockies will become executive director of the Museum of the Rockies. The reporting line will continue to be directly to the provost. This new title is consistent with those of chief leaders of non-profit organizations and reflects the special and unique role of the museum as a valued contributor to MSU's land-grant mission.

Two vice provosts will fill key interim leadership vacancies during the upcoming year. Joe Fedock has accepted my invitation to serve as interim dean of the College of Arts and Architecture and Greg Young has accepted an invitation to serve as the interim director of the newly re-named School of Music.

A position of director of Faculty Development will be created. The current Teaching and Learning Committee has been spearheading campus faculty development efforts under the leadership of Jeff Adams. Those efforts have been very effective and would benefit from the leadership of an individual whose primary responsibility is to advocate for faculty, to make state-of-the-art knowledge on teaching and learning available to faculty, and to create and promote faculty professional development opportunities. An interim director will be identified through an internal search to work during the upcoming year with the Teaching and Learning Committee to develop recommendations for, and make progress towards, establishing a permanent structure. An internal/external search for a permanent director is planned for AY 2011-'12.

Liberal Studies and American Studies, two degree-granting, interdisciplinary programs that currently report through University College, will report to the dean of the College of Letters and Science. This will align academic degree programs with an academic dean. Interdisciplinary oversight committees will ensure that these programs maintain their interdisciplinary focus. The remaining certificate and non-degree programs in University College will report to the associate provost.

The Big Sky Institute (BSI) will no longer receive direct funding through Academic Affairs. It is expected that the BSI will be replaced by, or transitioned to a proposed interdisciplinary Institute of the Environment.

You can view the new reporting structure on the provost's website:

Change is often difficult for those involved and I welcome questions related to this reorganization. Further, I invite individuals who may be interested in participating in the ongoing evolution of MSU to higher levels of excellence to let me know of their interest.

Martha Potvin
MSU Provost