Montana State University

Planning Council


Comments from a Deans' Council meeting(4/12/11)

The Mission statement should include the word Global.

"As Montana's land grant university …" could become "As the land grant university …"

"… creates knowledge and artistic expression…" would be better as some form of "research and creative activity" or just "scholarly activity".

Comments from Staff (via the website) (9/15/11)

"creates knowledge and art" - the word "creates" bothers me. I would have used "builds" which implies shaping, constructing, and developing. Just my two cents worth.

Comments from Community member (via the website) (8/26/11)

It seems like the role of the Agricultural Research Stations has been totally left out of the mission statement. Ag research and new variety testing adds billions of dollars to the Montana economy and keeps us competitive with the rest of the world. People tend to forget that students in Bozeman aren't the only great product of MSU.

Ag is Montana's largest industry by far and is so due to the research done at the seven research centers located at every corner of the state. It seems like leaving the role of the research stations out of core objectives of MSU is a grand mistake.

Comments from Faculty (via the website) (8/31/11)

Indicators are pretty specific in many cases. An example is on the bottom of page 3 where we see America Reads*America Counts, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and Montana Manufacturing Extension Center. Those are pretty specific (not bad activities and ones I support). I am hoping these are examples, but they are not called out as examples. On page 1 five lines up from the bottom the document says some "examples are: " Without that caveat for the Indicators, those indicators are the only ones that count. Is that what you intended? (I hope not). I note on page 2 that you have a boxed note that comments on direct indicators in bold. Here you might comment that unbolded are examples. I am concerned because if they are the only indicators then creativity in fulfilling the indicator is stifled, but perhaps that is what was desired.

I remain concerned about the stewardship area. On the Water Board we have discussed the idea that MSU could be a leader in demonstrating good practice as an extension activity to help people learn to manage water more efficiently. Be leaders. It seems to me that demonstrating good stewardship would be one of the indicators. Projects would help th e bottom line, but they would not serve the outreach function. An indicator that recognized this concept would help move us to be leaders in sustainability education and research and advance society much more effectively. (I liked the word sustainable better than stewardship, but the ideas are good.)

Comments from Community (via the website) (8/31/11)

[Yawn] Same ol' same ol'. Some criteria are trivial (more distance learning courses can easily be offered - but will they be taken; retention can be increased, but will standards be maintained?) This document echoes PQ&O of the 1990s, which died without a trace because of the failure of the MSU administration to meet ANY major checkpoint. Why should this be any different? Non-parallel construction: Core themes 1 and 3 are accompanied by a shopping list of examples - nearly a page for each - whereas Core themes 2, 4 and 5 have examples. Can it be that you don't know about faculty productivity (other than grant dollars, of course), integration, and stewardship? Or do you (still) not really care?

Comments from faculty (via the website) (7/19/11)

In Core Theme 3, through the collaboration "and engagement" with communities fits with the mission statement.

Comments from staff (via the website) (5/27/11)

  1. Aren't the tribal colleges land-grant institutions now too?
  2. Is the vision statement being revised as well?
  3. Diversity is not addressed. MSU is a very white campus. MSU students would benefit from more interaction with faculty, staff and students that come from a wider variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Posted 5/31/2011

Comments from faculty (via website) (5/22/11)

Lead progress toward sustainability through sense of place and responsibility.

Posted 5/31/11

Comments from staff (via the website) (5/11/11)

Is knowledge something that is "created", my opinion would be to replace "creates".
I believe MSU would be well thought of if sustainability were more of a priority.

Posted 5/11/2011

Comments from student (via the website) (5/10/11)

Please include an explicit reference to MSU's land-grant mission and its relation to sustainability. As an institution that serves the entire Montana community, we need to be on the forefront of developing technologies that equate to a more sustainable future. This includes social, environmental and economic sustainability. We are bound by all three, but we must ensure that environmental sustainability is included in MSU's mission. It is an important topic that students, faculty and the Montana community can effectively rally behind.

Posted 5/11/2011

Comments from staff (via the website) (5/10/11

Each of the core themes needs to be mentioned in the mission, i.e. I see "Stewardship" and "Sense of Place and Sustainability" in the themes but not specifically in the mission statement. I believe VERY strongly that sustainability/stewardship needs to be specifically included in the mission statement.

Posted 5/11/2011

Comments from staff (via the website) (5/5/11)

For the Mission Statement, I'm glad to see "transform/ing" was removed. I would prefer to say "fosters knowledge". Stating "educate students" is redundant. Perhaps you could say "Montana State University, Montana's land grant institution, educates, fosters knowledge, creates art and serves local, national and international communities with integrated learning, discovery, creativity and engagement."
Core Themes: Also glad to see "transform" out of there. I prefer "Fosters knowledge" compared to "creating knowledge". Make communities more descriptive, "Serves local, national and international communities." I'm not sure most people can define "Stewardship", or at least how it relates to MSU, unless it's in Development. "Sustainability" is a dangerous buzz word to use. Core five almost doesn't need to be in there. It sounds like fluff. Just my two cents. Hope it's helpful.

Posted 5/6/2011

Comments from faculty (via the website) (5/5/11)


  • What does place mean?
  • Greater Yellowstone GeoEcosystem (True, an attractor, myopic, what draws people in)
  • Northern Rocky Mountains (Our mountain environment brings people here, but again myopic in the sense that we have people working throughout the world (much of that work is however in the mountains).
  • To me the phrase that best typifies us and is the most important branding we have is Mountains and Minds
    I believe in this. I believe it is true. I believe it brings people here. I believe this should be part of our plan.
  • To me place means both this place (Bozeman, Greater Yellowstone GeoEcosystem, Northern Rocky mountains) and the knowledge and recognition that understanding place is critical to living sustainably.
  • The discipline of geography studies place. I do not intend to make MSU into a geography program, but I think it is instructive to think about place from the perspective of geography and that this will perhaps create the link to sustainability concepts you might be looking for.
    • Location – Where are we? (absolute location; relative location)
    • What is it like there? (human characteristics; physical characteristics; their interaction)
    • Movement – How do people and things get from place to place
    • Regions – (What makes regions similar to or different from one another?)
    • Human Environment Interaction (How do humans and the environment affect each other.) This is sustainability because if we fail to make our interaction with our place sustainable (whole earth, region, mountain range, city, home) we will cease to exist.

Core Theme #1 is a mess. It's vague and does not reflect what the university does... nor what it should do. We don't educate students by "providing a welcoming... environment" we educate them by engaging them in the enterprise of learning, discovery and creation… by guiding them through the process of accumulating knowledge, mastering skills and learning to apply this knowledge and use these skills in the real world.
We shouldn't be talking about some ill-defined "pathways that prepare students to be effective"… we should be outlining a theme that encompasses specific strategies that we use to engage students in learning, discovery and artistic creation. Examples: Defining a rigorous core curriculum, developing courses stressing student-active learning, Taking learning beyond the classroom through student research, etc.
We should be stressing what we do best, for example: UNDERGRAD RESEARCH. Undergraduate Research is the ONLY one of four NWCCU commendations that DIRECTLY impacts students! (I haven't heard many current or prospective students… or their parents getting worked up about the facilities inventory). We have outstanding (albeit underfunded) student research programs and fantastic capstone courses in many disciplines where students.
The weak-minded, wishy-washy non-statement embodied in Core Theme #1 is a great example of what we should be teaching our students to AVOID! State the theme concisely and precisely… don't dance around the issue!

The "integration" of learning and discovery/creation is stressed in the latest draft of the mission statement (05.05.11), but this integration is not embodied in the core themes which separate "Educat[ing] Students" from "Creating Knowledge and art". Why not combine these themes? … or a least stress the connections between learning and discovery. The current text of Core Themes #1 and #2 does not do this effectively.

Let's at least use parallel grammatical constructions for the different themes...

Changing core Theme #5 to "Sense of Place and Community" would express the importance of both our setting and the diversity of our constituents.
Stewardship and Sustainability seem to be a natural pair.


  1. If accreditation is an objective you are writing a mission statement for the Bozeman campus.
  2. The following wording from the Vision and Strategic plan done under Gamble might be of some help" Embrace our role as the state's land grant university and are committed to the dissemination of knowledge to Montana's citizens and communities through our education, research and outreach programs" " Integration of MSU into the future of the state..."
  3. We should set MSU-Bozeman as unique from the rest of the MUS system- we have the unique land grant mission and are the key research institution in the system.
  4. Use the word responsive whenever you use sustainable- we are not static!
  5. You must consider traditional and nontraditional students. The regents have a section on Workforce development in their strategic plan- we should try to include this- ..."life-long learning"
  6. Online classes are part of our future-try to acknowledge this

Posted 5/6/2011

Comments from alumni (via the website) (5/4/11)

I'm not sure about the "creating knowledge". Can you really create knowledge? I like the concept that "creating" does reflect on the research component of a land grant. But it only talks about MSU's impact on students. A land grant is much more far reaching that that. Through the other two legs of the land grant tripod you also get research and outreach through the Extension program. Extension is building communities and creating those learning environments all across the state, not just in the classroom on MSU's campus.

Posted 5/6/2011

Comments from staff (via the website) (5/4/11)

Mission statements are difficult to create, especially good ones. This one needs some work. "Transforms students" sounds like brainwashing or that we are starting with the worst students in the world but we can somehow make them fit into society. How do you "create knowledge?" You possess knowledge, right? I don't think it's created. The same can be said for "artistic expression." Is that something that is created? What about "fostering artistic expression?" The rest of the statement sounds fine. As far as the core themes go, they really sound like a bunch of current buzzwords strung together, rather than core themes. Good luck with this project. It's a hard one!

Posted 5/6/2011

Comments from staff (via the website) (5/2/11)

I really like the single-sentence mission statement and the mantra style of vision/mission statements.
To incorporate all 5 themes into the statement, could it be modified as:

"...and serves communities through careful stewardship, providing a sense of place and sustainability, and through the integration of..."

Makes it pretty long but sets up the themes. I don't quite get how sense of place and sustainability are part of the same theme but no doubt it will become clear once it's drafted.

It would be preferable to describe a more active role for students in self-discovery instead of saying that MSU transforms them. Perhaps "...MSU helps students define themselves,..." or "develop their skills."

Posted 5/2/2011

Comments from staff (via the website) (4/29/11)

Core themes 4. and 5. aren't parallel, which makes them cumbersome to read as a list.

Sense of place is really ambiguous to me. Does it mean that MSU seeks to interact with the place? Or that the place guides MSU's mission? Or ???

Posted 5/2/2011

Comments from faculty (via the website) (4/29/11)

How about changing the theme "Transforming students" to "Transforming students through education." That is what we do. There are other ways to be transformed, so I think we need to include the words "through education."

Posted 5/2/2011

Comments from faculty (via the website) (5/2/11)

I would like to see one of the core themes be, or at least one of the current ones more prominently include a focus on interdisciplinary activities. Research in particular, and teaching as well, should be a major focus at MSU where it is easy to do. We can cross disciplinary lines much easier than most large Universities and we should take advantage of that quality. Explicit institutional support for interdisciplinary activities sends an important message. It may be the only way to obtain "Sense of Place and Sustainability".

Sustainability is energizing students like nothing I have seen here in the last 20 years. I'm not sure what 'sense of place' means, but sustainability, especially in regard to food and agriculture, must be a core theme of MSU.

#4 Stewardship should be combined with #5 Sustainability -- they overlap significantly.

I am most concerned about transforming students item. Transformation often requires challenge. Challenging how students and faculty think about their world. Exploring unpopular as well as popular ideas, challenging the data and more importantly the interpretation of data. I think what I mean is learning critical thinking skills. These skills cannot always be developed in the warm fuzzy environment described in the section titled Transforming Students. I think this idea is sadly absent from the Mission Statement as currently written.

Posted 5/2/2011

From Assistant Deans Council (4/28/11)

Seems odd to capitalize Land Grant University.
Appreciate having "artistic expression" included in the mission.
Prefer a word even stronger than transform. Students begin and end even a first year seminar with a completely different mindset – they are more tolerant, respectful of others, open minded.
In the statement on Transforming Students, how about "welcoming and challenging"? "Workplaces" seems clunky. How about using "careers" and placing it first in the list (careers, communities, and families).

Posted 4/29/2011

From Faculty Senate meeting (4/27/11)


Can we "create artistic expression"? Perhaps we "facilitate" expression?
Want to see more on outreach or service as seen in other land grant missions
"Transforms" is problematic. Prisons transform. We transform more than just students. How about "create opportunities for students"? General consensus emerged around that phrase.
Discussion around inserting Montana before communities
"Creates and disseminates" knowledge – this could be in both mission and core theme statement
Is it strange to have "artisitic expression" in the mission statement of a school known for its STEM emphasis?
Want more emphasis on the democratization of education inherent in the language of the Morrill Act

Core Themes:

Did not care for statement 1. Perhaps "Creating opportunities that transform lives", something along the lines of "preparing students to go into the world and succeed." General preference for "successful" over "effective."
"Families" felt out of place.
Statement 2: Knowledge creation "and dissemination"
Statement 3 felt like a laundry list.
Prefer the following ordering in statement 4: "adaptive, entrepreneurial, and accountable." Need to have something for which to be accountable.

Posted 4/29/2011

Comments from staff (via the website) (4.27.11)

Maybe it is possible to re-word the mission statement a bit? ...MSU enriches student's lives, encourages artistic expression and the exchange of knowledge... What you are doing is incredibly hard and I applaud you for tackling it. You are doing a great job of remembering why it is we are MSU - the students.

Posted 4/29/2011

Comments from a Staff Senate meeting (4/20/11)

One of the key words that one of the members of Staff Senate would like to see is "International".

Posted 4/27/2011

Comments from the MSU Committee on International Programs (4/25/11)

First, the Committee suggests some modest additions to the Mission Statement to add a global dimension to the mission. IPC suggests:

As Montana's Land Grant University, MSU inspires students to transform the world, create knowledge and artistic expression, and serve communities through the integration of learning, discovery, creativity and engagement within a global framework.

Second, the Committee proposes an additional core theme be added to address the vital issue of internationalization. Our suggestion is:

International Integration Globalization trends require MSU to prepare students for borderless careers and global citizenship.

The Committee discussed various options to combine some of the proposed themes so as to avoid having six themes, but we did not come to closure on a specific approach. We do strongly believe that a core theme addressing internationalization is needed, appropriate, and timely. And, as we discussed, an internationalization theme is amenable to benchmarking and assessing progress, unlike some of the other proposals.

Posted 4/27/2011

Comments from faculty (via the website) (4/26/11)

This sounds like it's been written by a committee - as it has. What does "transforms students" mean? Isn't the kind of transformation what's important? Do we really "create...artistic expression"? Why not be direct: We teach, create, and serve, period.

Posted 4/27/2011

Comments from faculty (via the website) (4/27/11)

In the Creating Knowledge and Artistic Expression core theme, I would like to see, in the parenthetical list that ends the first paragraph, a more specific reference to the way in which our artistic activity engages this theme. Cultural growth or artistic enrichment, for example. Thank you for including creative and artistic links in these themes.

#1 - it is an empty meaningless statement and what is it we transform anyway? we don't transform, we shape, influence, guide, direct. we do not change their form. #3 - social capital does not drive, it creates an environment of entrepreneurship and creativity. Social capital is currency we spend to make our community a better place - it does not cause anything. #5 this requires a great deal of thought to get right - let's hope you take it seriously.

Posted 4/27/2011

Comments from a College of Nursing faculty meeting and from CN staff (4/13/11)
To me there is no meat in the mission statement.... it is just fluff.... transforms students into what???? Creates knowledge and expression to what purpose???? What do they really do for the community????
The university should prepare students to become involved citizens, future leaders, and an effective workforce; foster the creation of new knowledge and expression which benefits Montana and society; and provide service learning where students become involved in community partnerships to support both education and the community.

Without having a lot of time to spend on this right now, I think this succinctly provides a clear statement of the organization. I appreciate the core themes that have been developed as well. I'm assuming that the last 2 were drawn from the "land grant university" part of the mission statement?

Posted 4/20/2011

Comments from a Communications Associates meeting (4/13/11)
Transforming students sounds slightly presumptuous and one-sided. Education is a collaborative process. Students don't walk in hoping to be transformed. Through their efforts and the support of the faculty/community, they learn, grow and develop. We might consider changing to: ...MSU transforms lives.

Current mission statement says this:
"To provide a challenging and richly diverse learning environment in which the entire university community is fully engaged in supporting student success."

The group felt strongly that the entire campus being engaged in student success was important to maintain. Perhaps that could be a goal under Transforming students/lives. I like the direction the council is taking and I think the mission statement is excellent for the most part. I'm a bit hung up, for lack of better words, with the phrase "transforming students" as my first thought is that it sounds a bit patronizing – as if the students are bad when they arrive but we make them good. Or they are ugly ducklings and we turn them into beautiful swans. I believe those words could be removed entirely from the statement and it still reads well (maybe even better). Just my two cents today – thanks for listening. And thank you for the good work you are doing with planning council on behalf of all of us.

Posted 4/20/2011

Comments from a Deans' Council meeting (4/12/11)
The Mission statement should include the word Global.

"As Montana's land grant university …" could become "As the land grant university …"

"… creates knowledge and artistic expression…" would be better as some form of "research and creative activity" or just "scholarly activity".

Posted 4/19/2011