Montana State University-Bozeman

February 1994; Revised May 1998


I. Introduction and Overview
II. The University Environment of the 1990s
III. Goals and Strategies
Program Goals
GOAL 1.    Graduate broadly educated, professionally competent, and socially responsible students.
GOAL 2. Strengthen the research and creative activities of the University which address issues of significance to the welfare of the state and nation and support the University's mission.
GOAL 3. Provide for the educational and developmental needs of Montana's citizens through a coordinated network of outreach and extension programs.
Process Goals
GOAL 4. Attract, develop, and retain faculty and staff committed to excellence.
GOAL 5. Attract and retain an academically qualified student population.
GOAL 6. Provide for a more multicultural and diverse faculty, staff, and student body.
GOAL 7. Provide information technology infrastructure and services necessary to support and enhance, in the most cost-effective manner, the teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach activities.
GOAL 8. Upgrade and maintain the University facilities and grounds to provide for efficient use of these resources and for a safe, supportive, and accessible environment.
GOAL 9. Improve administrative policies and procedures to ensure effective and efficient use of the University's resources, and to enhance public awareness of MSU.


At Montana State University, the Long-range Planning Committee (LRPC), is charged to "seek information and make recommendations concerning priorities and programs (new and existing) as they relate to the role and scope of the University" and to "recommend guidelines for the evaluation of the overall university performance" (MSU Faculty Handbook). The LRPC consists of four members appointed by the President, six elected by Faculty Council (including at least one from the professional staff), one student selected by ASMSU, one person elected by the Classified Employees Personnel Advisory Committee and two ex officio members, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Research and Creative Activities. The LRPC initiates and coordinates long-range planning for institutional growth and development as the University prepares for the future.

The LRPC's strategic planning began in January 1991, when a five-member LRPC developed a document outlining the planning process. In August 1991, the planning document was forwarded to President Malone, and it was subsequently approved, following campus-wide discussion. After the original LRPC was expanded to its present size in January 1992, President Malone charged the Committee to "engage in strategic planning for Montana State conduct a careful study of the institution [and to] collect data related to the University's special characteristics and consumers, opportunities and threats from without, and its current priorities and programs." President Malone called for "a statement of goals for the university and policy recommendations from the Committee to be discussed and ratified by faculty, staff, students and administration" (Appendix).

In order to provide a planning document within the time frame set by President Malone, the LRPC decided to focus initially on university-wide goals and strategies that, collectively, provide a comprehensive framework for improving the product of MSU. It is important to understand that the goals and strategies presented in this document are, in most cases, broadly stated; they are intended to suggest the direction MSU should take in fulfilling its mission. The goals and strategies are based on the responses by academic and non-academic units to a planning survey, on forums with deans and other administrative personnel, and on discussions within the Committee.

Goals and strategies, however, are of little use if not accompanied by an action plan for their implementation. The second task confronting MSU strategic planning is development of action plans, which involves setting measurable objectives to support the long-range goals and strategies. The action plans will outline how the University might proceed within a shorter time period, such as a 2-5 year interval, to implement these goals and strategies, and will involve input from a much broader segment of the University community. The plans will reflect University-wide objectives as well as college-specific objectives that support the long-range goals and strategies. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to participate in the long range planning processes through development of these action plans.

In summary, the present document is meant to further discussion of the major directions for MSU. It is the first step of a dynamic planning process that, hopefully, will enhance the educational excellence of the University and create partnerships with the people of Montana. The overall success of strategic planning efforts at MSU are intricately tied to the extent of the collaborative efforts of all University administrators, faculty, staff and students.

I. Introduction and Overview

As one of the State's two major institutions of higher education, as the land grant institution for Montana, and as the State's leading provider of research-based knowledge, MSU seeks to provide instruction of the highest quality to a variety of learners on and off campus, increase the base of knowledge and technical innovation, foster the intellectual and cultural growth of Montana, and contribute to solutions for increasingly urgent societal problems. If MSU is to respond effectively to these challenges it must rely on strategic long-range planning. Only by carefully matching its priorities and resources will MSU be able to continue to educate the students of the State and serve its diverse constituencies effectively. The foundations for developing a long-range plan are MSU's mission and role and scope. (See MSU's Role and Scope Statement (1990)).

The Mission of MSU

The mission of Montana State University is education, broadly defined to encompass teaching, research and creative activities, and outreach.

The teaching component of the mission is:

To develop and graduate a student population with a sound knowledge base in their chosen disciplines; with well-developed skills in oral, written, and interpersonal communications and in critical, analytical, and creative thinking; with multicultural and global awareness; and with character traits such as leadership, responsibility, honesty, objectivity, and collegiality.

The distinctiveness of MSU's teaching efforts lies in the range of undergraduate majors, the centrality of the liberal arts and sciences to undergraduate education, the integration of undergraduate and graduate instruction with basic and applied research and creative activities, the continued development of interdisciplinary educational opportunities, the inclusion of both on- and off-campus students, and the quality and vitality of the faculty. MSU is committed to providing a comprehensive array of high quality instructional programs in the sciences, liberal and creative arts, and selected professions, particularly agriculture, architecture, business, education, engineering, human development, and nursing, and supporting quality student development programs and services.

Basic and applied research and creative activities constitute a second component of the MSU mission, which is defined as follows:

To produce a body of basic and applied research and creative works that advances knowledge in the sciences, liberal and creative arts, and professions; that complements the University's educational mandates; and that meets the social, cultural, and economic needs of Montana, the region, and the nation.

The quest for new knowledge and insights is an essential part of a comprehensive university. It defines and attracts the type of faculty necessary to provide a university education; it defines and distinguishes the quality of the undergraduate experience and the quality and content of the service and outreach provided to the citizens of Montana; and it is an essential component of graduate education. MSU's graduate education and research/creative efforts should be directed to those academic areas in which there are established strengths, or to fields that address the unique opportunities and challenges facing the State and nation.

The land grant tradition creates for MSU a state-wide responsibility to serve the needs of Montana and its citizens. The outreach component of the MSU mission renews this land grant concept:

To provide outreach to citizens throughout Montana that draws upon the University's teaching and research strengths and support program areas; and to form effective and creative partnerships with business, government, educational, and service organizations to enhance the development and utilization of the state's human, economic, and natural resources.

The outreach efforts must include enhanced telecommunication services and programming, and technology transfer. Outreach functions should not be restricted to the traditional extension activities of the University but should be integrated into the role of each college.

These three components of MSU's education mission -- teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach -- are not discrete; rather, collectively they form an integrated vision of a comprehensive land grant University. Teaching and outreach activities become dry and outdated unless they are invigorated by the results of new research and creative activities. Scholarship thrives when it confronts societal problems outside academe and student curiosity within. Furthermore, multicultural and global understandings are best achieved in a campus environment where relevant scholarship is pursued. Thus, a fundamental principle underlying the MSU mission is integration:

To integrate teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach so that each activity informs and enhances the others, with particular emphasis on bringing students into the research and creative processes, and applying research/creative activities and teaching to the University's outreach services and programs.

The Challenges for Long-Range Planning

As MSU enters its second century and as we prepare our students for the 21st century, the vision for the University is one of "scholarship in service to society." The necessary foundations of quality and commitment to the land grant concept and to the mandates of a comprehensive university are already in place. The goals and strategies that follow build on MSU's traditions and strengths, and respond to changing institutions and environments and new opportunities.

In undertaking strategic planning, the LRPC considered how political, economic, and social factors will affect the University and, in turn, how the University should respond. Specifically, the committee attempted to develop goals that foster the knowledge, skills, and attitudes our graduates will need in order to function effectively in the work place. We also sought to establish strategic directions in research, creative activities, and outreach consistent with MSU's heritage as a land grant institution and as the leading provider of research-based knowledge in the state. The goals are designed to improve the quality of and promote the integration of teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach efforts at MSU, and to create an environment that enhances the fulfillment of the University's mission.

In addition, although the long-range planning document was developed in an atmosphere detached from current budgetary decisions, the influence of the real decreases in monetary support cannot be ignored. Since the University cannot be all things to all people, the planning process should reflect such prioritization. In particular, resources should be allocated to those areas that are in support of the mission of MSU, and where the University has a comparative advantage. Whether mandated by budgetary decisions or not, a better University will be the product of a planning process that recognizes the limitations of its resource base, and does those activities well that it selects to undertake.

The goals are presented under two headings. The Program Goals pertain to the teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach components of MSU's education mission. The Process Goals are in support of the challenges to better integrate the three primary functions of the University and to provide the environment and resources needed to meet the program goals.

The remainder of the document is organized as follows: Section II contains a brief background of factors that will influence and shape the University environment in the upcoming decade; in Section III, the major long-range goals that relate to the MSU mission are presented, accompanied by strategies to support each goal. The strategies are listed in approximate order of priority.

II. The University Environment in the 1990s

As a public institution, Montana State University confronts a wide range of environmental, economic, and social factors, many of which are beyond its control. National and state economies, budget allocations, public policies, technological advances, demographic changes, educational preparedness and personal values are a few of the larger set of forces which will affect MSU in the coming decade.

Demographic changes affecting Montana are varied and complex. National trends observed over the last decade that will continue to affect the population of the state include increased migration from urban centers of the East to rural states in the West, and greater diversity of its labor supply as increased numbers of women, ethnic minorities, and disabled persons enter the work force. Montana, like many of its neighboring states, has also experienced population growth in urban areas of the state relative to rural counties. Much of this growth is due to businesses and industries drawn to the State for its lifestyle and scenic beauty.

Although the past decade has experienced, on net, an outmigration of residents seeking higher paying jobs, enrollment in Montana high schools has increased, with larger increases anticipated by the late 1990s. The educational implications of these changes include a greater aggregate demand for higher education, a greater need to acquire communication and analytical skills needed to be competitive in a highly skilled labor pool, and an increased demand for life-long learning opportunities. Increasingly, MSU will be called upon to extend educational resources to place-bound and time-bound learners. Also, Montana is part of a rapidly increasing globalization that has far-reaching implications for the educational needs of its businesses and citizens. In particular, globalization challenges MSU to enhance its programs of international education, economic development, and technology transfer.

During the next decade, continuing technological advances in genetic engineering, biotechnology, information systems and telecommunications will impact and transform nearly every sector of society. Changes in the delivery of health and medical services will affect the economies and quality of life in both rural and urban communities. These technological/economic changes pose many challenges for MSU and higher education in the state. Among these are the need to modify and update the curriculum to prepare technically competent graduates; to facilitate interdisciplinary efforts in research, teaching, and outreach; to invest in the human capital and modern infrastructure needed for instruction and research; and to develop partnerships with the people of Montana that capitalize on the educational, research and creative activities of faculty and staff.

Economic growth and technological change may also create or intensify conflicts among user groups and/or political constituencies. For example, the expansion of recreational services in the state may clash with existing practices in the manufacturing and resource-based sectors. There will continue to be conflicts over water rights, access to public lands, grazing fees, wilderness areas, etc. National economic policies such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will result in losers as well as winners among the State's business sectors. Resolving these conflicts and adapting to changing policies, institutions, and technologies will require analysis of their social impacts, and better and more extensive collaboration among discipline-oriented faculty and staff addressing these interdisciplinary concerns. MSU should play a major role in the analysis of the impacts of economic growth and technological change, and in educating the state's political leaders and citizenry to deal with these challenges and demands.

As MSU enters its second century, significant shifts in peoples' attitudes towards state-supported higher education are taking place. National trends emphasizing the quality of life, convenient access to educational opportunities, and life-long learning will accelerate the demand for higher education, and increase the attractiveness of institutions where quality education is combined with desirable living environments. Another attitude affecting education is the renewed concern for academic excellence in communications, math and science at the elementary and secondary levels. The consequences of this concern have been a closer scrutiny of the education process, more rigorous requirements for high school graduation, and a stiffening of admission standards at universities and other institutions of higher education. These consequences have implications for both the technical competence of the incoming student body at MSU, remedial courses in analytical and communication skills, and the education curriculum.

Finally, the intense debates within the State regarding the levels and types of taxation, the accountability of state spending, and responsible use of state funds for higher education, will have profound effects on every institution of higher education in the Montana University System. MSU's responses to these debates must include improving the public's understanding of what the MSU faculty and staff do and how these activities benefit the citizens of the state, assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of MSU in carrying out its role and mission, implementing means to increase the productivity of its faculty and staff, and determining the role of MSU vis a vis other institutions in the MUS.

III. Goals and Strategies

A set of comprehensive university-wide goals and specific strategies for each goal are presented in this section. The goals are divided into Program Goals and Process Goals. The Program Goals and accompanying strategies address the three major functions of the University in carrying out its educational mission -- teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach. The Process Goals and strategies pertain primarily to improving the integration of the teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach components through a better use of the resources and infrastructure of the University, and are essential to the attainment of the Program Goals and the University's mission.

Program Goals

GOAL 1. Graduate broadly educated, professionally competent and socially responsible students.

GOAL 2. Strengthen the research and creative activities of the University which address issues of significance to the welfare of the state and nation and support the University's mission.

GOAL 3. Provide for the educational and developmental needs of Montana's citizens through a coordinated network of outreach and extension programs.

Process Goals

GOAL 4. Attract, develop, and retain faculty and staff committed to excellence.

GOAL 5. Attract and retain an academically qualified student population.

GOAL 6. Provide for a more multicultural and diverse faculty, staff and student body.

GOAL 7. Provide information technology infrastructure and services necessary to support and enhance, in the most cost-effective manner, the teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach activities.

GOAL 8. Upgrade and maintain the University facilities and grounds to provide for efficient use of these resources and for a safe, supportive, and accessible environment.

GOAL 9. Improve administrative policies and procedures to ensure effective and efficient use of the University's resources, and to enhance public awareness of MSU.

Program Goals

GOAL 1. Graduate broadly educated, professionally competent and socially responsible students.

Montana State University's priority is the education of its students. Our educational programs serve a variety of students, including on- and off-campus learners; undergraduate and graduate students; arts, letters and sciences majors as well as students of the professions; and students of diverse ages, physical abilities, and ethnic backgrounds. Our graduates contribute to society throughout their lives, in their careers and their communities.

The University will provide all undergraduate students with two closely related but distinct educational opportunities. First, general education at MSU will allow students to acquire a critical appreciation of the arts, humanities, and sciences; this educational foundation will equip students with essential communication and analytical skills, encourage them to become life-long learners, and allow them to make informed moral and social judgements. Second, MSU will provide undergraduate students with the fundamental tools for their career through in-depth study in a field of their choice. The University has a responsibility to offer undergraduates an education within their majors that reflects the best practices and state-of-the-art knowledge of the fields.

Graduate instructional programs are a defining feature of universities. Hence, graduate education is an essential component of the mission of Montana State University. Outstanding comprehensive universities characteristically have excellent graduate education programs and research/creative activities, since the two are strongly interdependent. Graduate education constitutes the minimum level of preparation for a growing number of careers. Quality graduate programs therefore expand the range of educational opportunities available to the citizens of Montana and the region, and also contribute to the development of an educated pool of specialists to meet the needs of business, industry, government, public education, health care and other professions. Well-trained graduate students function as energetic, dedicated and highly competent partners with their faculty mentors, in the laboratory and the classroom. Their highly focused scholarship enhances the infusion of new ideas and perspectives to teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach programs.

Thus, the primary objectives of our undergraduate and graduate educational efforts are to foster in our students disciplinary mastery, coupled with essential communication and analytical skills, a broad understanding of the world, and an appreciation for diverse cultures and ideas. Listed below are strategies designed to reach these educational objectives.

A. Strengthen Undergraduate Education

  1. Review the concept and structure of the Core Curriculum, giving it greater focus, coherence and effectiveness.

  2. Establish on-going reviews of all undergraduate programs, based on the criteria of academic excellence, compatibility with institutional goals and MSU's mission, and relevance to the changing societal environment. Use these reviews to determine which programs should be supported at current levels, strengthened, or eliminated.

  3. Elevate the importance of teaching effectiveness in the promotion and tenure process; develop and utilize multidimensional measures of teaching effectiveness; and provide resources/seminars to improve teaching effectiveness.

  4. Review and improve departmental curricula and University-wide requirements to ensure that students who advance beyond the freshman year possess the communication and analytical skills needed for upper division courses.

  5. Articulate and communicate MSU's admission requirements to assure that transfer students possess the skills and prerequisites needed for upper division courses.

  6. Include academic advising/mentoring in promotion and tenure decisions, and in faculty annual evaluations.

  7. Provide more opportunities for undergraduate research and creative activities, seminar participation, laboratory and field-based instruction, and support the current Undergraduate Scholars Program.

  8. Strengthen institutional academic policies promoting interdisciplinary course offerings and co-op experiences and internship opportunities.

  9. Continue support for courses emphasizing global and multicultural perspectives, and ethical issues.

  10. Review and strengthen the University Honors Program.

  11. Move toward more state-of-the-art library, computing facilities and equipment to support undergraduate education.

  12. Increase opportunities for visiting professors and guest speakers to interact with undergraduate students.

  13. Assign a committee to oversee the development, review and delivery of courses offered via telecommunication systems.

B. Strengthen Graduate Education

  1. Establish on-going reviews of all graduate programs with respect to the criteria of academic excellence and compatibility with institutional goals and MSU's mission, and relevance to the changing societal environment. Use these reviews to determine which programs should be supported at current levels, strengthened, or eliminated.

  2. Move toward more state-of-the-art equipment, library, computing and other facilities to support graduate education.

  3. Improve the quality of graduate student advising/mentoring; integrate into graduate education an awareness of the integrity of the research process.

  4. Develop and adequately support new graduate programs in selected areas that are critical to the achievement of institutional goals, and where MSU has strong scholarship and faculty expertise, and funding. In designing new graduate programs, explore interdisciplinary opportunities.

  5. Develop effective means to increase availability of graduate assistantships, fee waivers, and other financial incentives to make MSU competitive with respect to the recruitment of quality graduate students.

  6. Increase the number of graduate assistantships for under-represented groups.

  7. Increase the number of intern and practicum opportunities in the private and public sectors.

C. Learning Environment

  1. Maintain a learning environment free of bias, harassment, and intimidation; particularly harassment based on sex, disability, race, sexual preference, national origin, or age.

  2. Encourage honesty and integrity, and promote the highest ethical and professional standards of behavior by students, faculty, and staff.

  3. Review the existing structure of student support services with respect to its applicability to the developmental needs of MSU students.

GOAL 2. Strengthen the research and creative activities of the University which address issues of significance to the welfare of the state and nation and support the University's mission.

Research and creative activities are integral parts of a comprehensive university, and are essential to fulfilling the education and outreach mandates of a land grant institution. These activities have produced, and continue to produce, major advances in knowledge, technology, and culture that have advanced the educational frontiers and benefited society. State, federal, and private investments in university scholarship and in the expansion of university faculties committed to research and creative activities have extended the frontiers of knowledge at a breathtaking pace and have benefited society. Continued scholarship at the frontiers of knowledge is a necessary investment in the future.

Montana State University has established or is developing strengths in a number of areas which are important in the solution of pressing economic, social and environmental problems. Among these areas are rural health care, science-math education, biological and physical sciences, biotechnology and sustainable natural resource management. The problems that can be addressed by faculty working in these areas have long time frames; matching our strengths to the opportunities and challenges of the future is a major objective of our long-range plan. By addressing emerging fields targeted by federal and state agencies, we will increase the research support available to our faculty, and we will provide our students with the most up-to-date knowledge, marketable skills, and intellectual challenges.

In addition to strengthening specific disciplinary programs, attention must also be focused on interdisciplinary collaboration. The experience of the last few decades has demonstrated that problems facing society and the solutions to those problems are no longer the domain of a single discipline. For example, understanding the cause of and solutions to environmental concerns such as ozone depletion and ground and surface water contamination, or maintaining the health of our natural resource base requires a collaboration among scientists in the biological, physical, and social sciences. Similarly, addressing rural health care concerns requires interdisciplinary cooperation among social scientists, educators, health care providers, and health care researchers.

Besides contributing to the direct solution of societal problems, faculty research and creative activity enhance a university's ability to fulfill its role in many ways, including the following:

  • research laboratories constitute the primary training ground for our future scientists and engineers who will provide the skills urgently needed in many sectors of society;

  • creative activities bring authenticity, excitement, and vitality to the classroom, and increase the quality of life for Montana's citizens;

  • research keeps faculty in touch with important discoveries and events outside the classroom;

  • faculty engaged in competitive scholarship establish vital contacts across the nation and around the world; and

  • grants provide funds for personnel, equipment and facilities that greatly enhance the academic environment, and supplements state-level support.

Listed below are strategies intended to position MSU to take a leading role in discovering new knowledge, in addressing urgent societal issues, and in enhancing the quality of Montana's cultural life throughout the decade and beyond.

  1. Require every faculty member with instructional expectations to have involvement in research or creative activities and maintain workloads to enable them to undertake these efforts.

  2. Increase the level of state support for faculty research/creative activities to a level similar to that found at other land grant universities.

  3. Support high quality research/scholarship programs that are central to the University's mission, and eliminate support for programs that are of low quality and not central to the University's mission.

  4. Build on our present strengths to become a nationally respected center of biotechnology.

  5. Continue to develop a comprehensive program in rural health care, giving attention to both physical and mental health issues and the economic issue of financing rural health care.

  6. Develop a nationally respected program in K-12 science-math education, including materials development, pre-service teacher education, and in-service teacher enhancement with emphasis on increased participation by the Native American community.

  7. Take advantage of our unique natural laboratory, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and develop an outstanding multidisciplinary program for management and use of the resource base.

  8. Promote interdisciplinary research activities by providing an academic environment conducive to this type of scholarship, by giving greater recognition of this research in the promotion and tenure process, and by providing funds to initiate interdisciplinary research projects in areas for which MSU already possesses faculty expertise.

  9. Support high quality basic and applied research programs that show promise of developing into centers of excellence in critical emerging technologies.

  10. Facilitate collaboration with other universities in the state and region through a variety of methods including joint graduate programs, research projects and faculty exchange.

  11. Establish summer workshops in areas that complement the research priorities of MSU.

GOAL 3. Provide for the educational and developmental needs of Montana's citizens through a coordinated network of outreach and extension programs.

As a land grant institution, MSU is charged with the purpose of transferring knowledge to the citizens of Montana to promote the economic, social and cultural vitality of the state. MSU must maintain open access to citizens and deliver its knowledge to the people in the form of educational programs and to form partnerships with Montana businesses and citizens to better develop and utilize the state's resources. The Agricultural Research Centers, Extension Service and university-wide outreach are key to MSU's recognition as the peoples' university.

As discussed in the 1990 MSU Report of the Extended Activities Study Group on Outreach, outreach activities are the off-campus educational and research activities of faculty and staff. These activities must be continually reviewed to assess their applicability to the present and future educational needs of Montana and its citizens, and their effective use of the expertise and talents of the University community.

The strategies to support this goal are outlined below.

  1. Give increased recognition for outreach activities in promotion and tenure decisions.

  2. Require departments and colleges to evaluate their contributions to outreach whenever their academic programs are reviewed.

  3. Encourage Extension specialists and field faculty to be involved in research and creative activities that complement their areas of expertise.

  4. Improve the cooperation and collaboration between extension field faculty and on-campus faculty.

  5. Support and encourage the integration of on-campus teaching and research/creative activities with outreach in regionally important topics, and continue to develop comprehensive programs in rural mental and physical health care, science-math education and Native American educational opportunities.

  6. Encourage faculty interactions with Montana industry and business to enhance development and utilization of the state's human, natural, and economic resources.

  7. Enhance educational opportunities through cost-effective distance learning programs and by expanding the access to degree programs at non-traditional times and during summer sessions.

  8. Promote effective utilization of computer, video and telecommunications technologies in outreach and extension programming.

Process Goals

GOAL 4. Attract, develop and retain quality faculty and staff committed to excellence.

Among MSU's most valuable assets is having qualified and committed faculty and professional and classified staff. All faculty are expected to be actively engaged in advancing knowledge in their disciplines. Faculty and staff should be encouraged to make changes and to develop creative solutions for the challenges they meet. In order for the University to attract, develop and retain quality personnel it must provide a positive working environment characterized by financial incentives as well as collegiality and mutual respect. Steps to ensure such an environment include having adequate and competitive salary packages, adequate resources to enable faculty and staff to accomplish their work, professional development opportunities, and clear signals with respect to job expectations. Finally, the University needs to maintain its commitment to provide opportunities for mental and physical well-being through the Wellness Program.

The specific strategies to support this goal are outlined below, grouped according to faculty, professional staff, and classified staff.


  1. Offer incoming salaries and benefits competitive with those at comparable universities and provide adequate resources for faculty recruitment, relocation and start-up costs where applicable.

  2. Increase salaries to at least the average compensation paid at comparable universities, and provide for salary enhancement mechanisms. Award a predominant share of salary increment monies on the basis of merit.

  3. Elevate the importance of teaching effectiveness in the promotion and tenure process; develop and utilize multidimensional measures of teaching effectiveness.

  4. Provide resources to enable faculty to utilize new educational techniques and to teach innovative courses.

  5. Provide resources to enable faculty to have involvement in research and creative activities, and to participate in professional conferences.

  6. Implement criteria for rewarding outstanding service, advising, and interdisciplinary contributions.

  7. Promote open communication with administrators and maintain a strong faculty representation in the governing process.

  8. Recognize thesis supervision and other individual instruction as part of teaching workloads.

  9. Increase the number of sabbatical opportunities for faculty and encourage broader participation by colleges and departments.

  10. Encourage the continued growth of the "Second Century Future's Fund" for faculty development.

  11. Emphasize the hiring of tenure-track faculty over adjunct faculty.

  12. Enhance the opportunities to accommodate faculty that have spouses with professional careers by providing assistance in exploring job opportunities on campus or within the community.

  13. Encourage departmental orientation and mentoring programs for new faculty.

  14. Create endowed chairs in selected departments to be supported by extramural funds.

Professional Staff

  1. Recommend salaries and benefits be competitive with those at comparable universities.

  2. Develop a performance and salary review process, to be adopted in all campus divisions, for determining annual merit increases.

  3. Provide increased opportunities for professional development.

  4. Maintain a strong professional representation in the governing process.

  5. Encourage orientation and mentoring programs for new staff.

Classified Staff

  1. Encourage the State Department of Administration to provide a more competitive and equitable salary structure for all classified employees.

  2. Enhance cooperation among the MSU administration, legislators and bargaining units to obtain competitive compensation.

  3. Provide a structure to allow for merit raises for union exempt classified employees.

  4. Enhance participation in MSU sponsored programs that provide for professional improvement.

  5. Maintain a strong representation on university committees.

  6. Encourage orientation and mentoring programs for new staff.

GOAL 5. Attract and retain an academically qualified student population.

The competitive realities of attracting good students and the increasingly complex challenges involved in keeping them here will likely assume an ever greater importance in the foreseeable future.

The strategies to support this goal are listed below.

  1. Adopt admission procedures that increase the quality and diversity of undergraduate and graduate students.

  2. (Increase MSU's commitment to undergraduate and graduate scholarship programs:) Develop a more effective recruitment strategy that emphasizes faculty and student participation in recruitment efforts, increased levels of incentive support for student scholarships, and focuses on attracting qualified students, including out-of-state and international students.

  3. Ensure that all students have attained acceptable minimum proficiency levels in writing and mathematics before advancing to upper-division courses, and develop intervention strategies that respond to the needs of students who have not attained proficiency in these essential academic skills.

  4. Foster early identification and recruitment of outstanding high school students and promote opportunities for university credit for advanced placement courses taken in secondary school.

  5. Provide a comprehensive program of general university and departmental advising which will offer guidance to all MSU students, beginning in their freshman year.

  6. Expand and strengthen the University Honors Program.

  7. Strengthen the commitment to small-size classroom experiences, particularly early in a student's career. Multiply opportunities for freshman to participate in small classes and in active learning environments such as freshman seminars with the goal of offering these opportunities to all incoming MSU students. Expand and improve on-going orientation programs, particularly those that meet the needs of minority, non-traditional age, transfer, and international students.

  8. Improve the coordination of the curriculum within the Montana University System.

  9. Continue to encourage and support opportunities for undergraduate research, creative work and other opportunities that go beyond the traditional curriculum.

  10. Emphasize the importance of student support services in addition to advising. Provide high quality student support services that respond effectively to the needs of an increasingly diverse student clientele.

  11. Address the need for web-based recruiting capabilities. Expand state-of-the-art web-based recruiting technologies and periodically review their effectiveness.

  12. Address the need for more research and results on student retention. Identify the key variables that affect student retention rates, implement actions aimed at lifting 4-year retention rates by 20%, and periodically modify retention strategies to meet the changing needs of future MSU students.

  13. Provide a summer course structure that supports accelerated degree programs--particularly entry-level core courses--and actively promote the unique opportunities offered by summer school: Opportunity for remedial "catch-up", for accelerated progress toward a degree, for special courses that take advantage of MSU's unique surroundings and climate, and for smaller introductory courses.

  14. Provide incentives by returning part of summer school income to colleges and departments that invest in successful summer courses and reduce formal registration requirements that hinder part-time non-traditional students from enrollment in summer school--health exams, transcripts, etc.

  15. Appoint a Summer Session Task Force to develop and implement summer school marketing, financial strategies, and incentives both for summer students and faculty. The Director of Summer Session should chair this task force.

  16. Provide appropriate incentives and support for faculty to secure enhanced instructional equipment and facilities through competitive extramural funding sources.

GOAL 6. Promote a more multicultural and diverse faculty, staff and student body.

MSU is committed to creating an educational environment where individuals of every race, religion, and cultural background can be productive. The University also seeks to provide a productive learning and working environment to all individuals regardless of national origin, sex, age, or disability. The University's commitment to pluralism requires that efforts be made to hire faculty and staff and to recruit students to reflect the diversity of the state's population.

Diversity adds a cultural and social dimension to the quality of the educational experience. To ensure diversity and multiculturalism, MSU must implement the following strategies, as well as the goals of the Campus Action Plan developed by the Minority Task Force.

  1. Make efforts to award new faculty positions to departments with statistical under-representation that hire women and/or minorities, and to departments that comply with the diversity goals of MSU.

  2. Increase the number of diversity-based scholarships awarded to qualified students.

  3. Aggressively seek qualified minorities and women for positions within the University administration.

  4. Enhance the recruitment and retention of qualified minority staff.

  5. Encourage faculty to integrate multicultural and global perspectives in their classes.

  6. Improve opportunities and services for non-traditional students and students with disabilities.

  7. Encourage faculty to utilize experiences of non-traditional students in the instructional process.

GOAL 7. Provide information technology infrastructure and services necessary to support and enhance, in a cost-effective manner, the teaching, research/creative activities, and outreach activities.

Before the University can organize a cost effective program for introducing and using new technology in research, teaching, and outreach, it must formulate a coherent vision for the way technology will enhance the functioning of the institution as a whole. A state-of-the art telecommunications system is needed to further many of the goals in the MSU long-range plan including those associated with outreach. Programs and services of this system would be designed to address both local and national needs and issues of equity and access to University resources for distantly separated populations and place bound citizens.

Through applications of current and developing technologies in fiber optics, compressed video, uplink and downlink capabilities, and computer assisted exchanges, a telecommunications center will significantly expand ongoing dimensions of public services and outreach in distant learning, information retrieval and library access, rural health care, secondary education in science and mathematics, Native American incentives, agricultural extension services, and related areas. Provisions for exchanges of information and services with other units in the Montana University System, the public schools, tribal colleges and reservation communities, and county extension and other agencies will greatly enhance the land grant mission of the University.

To achieve this goal the following strategies are presented.

  1. Create a strategic plan for cost-effective technology development and delivery; establish initiatives for implementation.

  2. Assign a staff professional to provide faculty instruction in the use of telecommunications and multimedia technology; consider creating an Educational Technology Laboratory for faculty and staff use.

  3. Redefine the mission of the Libraries and OSCS in the context of information technology.

  4. Extend ethernet service to all faculty and staff and provide them with PC's and network connections.

  5. Standardize software to enable more efficient and convenient sharing of resources across the campus.

GOAL 8. Upgrade and maintain University facilities and grounds to provide for efficient use of these resources and a safe, supportive, and accessible environment.

The past decade can be characterized as a period of inadequate funding for maintenance and repair programs; the present decade is a period of escalating construction and replacement costs. Thus, an infusion of one-time funds for preventative maintenance, coupled with annual repair funds, would be a wise investment.

As the University continues to grow and evolve, the need for additional space and facilities should focus on a combination of alternatives including improved space allocation procedures, and upgrading and modifying existing facilities as well as new construction. The Administration should carefully seek out the most cost effective means to accommodate growth and expansion.

Finally, the University must pay adequate attention to campus grounds. Providing a safe, well maintained campus environment is central to recruiting and retention of students, as well as for the retention of faculty and staff. The need for well-lighted and well-maintained walkways and parking areas has been articulated by students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. The increasing numbers of students and employees with a disability require the University to continue its efforts to make the campus accessible. Programs in these areas are needed as part of the University's long-range plan.

The strategies to support this goal are:

  1. Identify urgent maintenance projects, and develop and initiate a plan to fund and restore adequate preventative maintenance.

  2. Review the current safety and lighting of University walkways and parking areas, and initiate needed improvements to these facilities (see Campus Lighting Plan).

  3. Provide equipment, lab space and classroom facilities that support development and/or expansion of instructional, research, and outreach program priorities.

  4. Establish and maintain space allocation procedures to ensure effective use of facilities and responsiveness to changing needs and priorities.

GOAL 9. Improve administrative policies and procedures to ensure effective and efficient use of the University's resources, and to enhance public awareness of MSU.

The purpose of administration is to support the University's role and mission and facilitate the teaching, research, and outreach functions. In doing so, the administration provides leadership for the institution and the structure to enable faculty, staff, and students to perform their various roles. Administrative leadership involves developing a shared vision for the goals of the University, communicating these goals to the public, implementing the goals in an effective and efficient manner, maintaining flexibility and responsiveness to changing curricular needs and to external and internal factors, and providing an atmosphere of cooperation and trust that encourages people to contribute at their maximum potential. Strategies designed to foster an improvement in the administration of the institution are:

  1. Promote open communications and linkages among faculty, staff, students, and administrators at all levels within the MUS.

  2. Communicate effectively and openly with respect to public constituencies.

  3. Encourage administrators at MSU to increase their personal interactions with students, faculty, and staff.

  4. Periodically review the organizational structure and procedures of the University to increase the efficiency of administrative units, and exploit technological advances to allow for more efficient use of University resources.

  5. Maintain and support strong faculty, staff, and student representation in the governing process while streamlining the committee structure.

  6. Adopt user-friendly automated procedures for handling the registration process and other service-oriented procedures.

  7. Resolve uncertainties regarding role, participation and responsibilities of adjunct professors in faculty governance.


February 7, 1992


As you know, Montana State University has been in an extremely tight fiscal environment--with declining support per FTE student, salary erosion, inadequate operating budgets, lack of capital, and severe fiscal uncertainty--for almost a decade. Planning has tended to be limited to one immediate fiscal crisis after another. However, with the current fiscal climate and the resolution by the Board of Regents to cap enrollments by September 1992, members of the university community have now agreed that institutional well--being depends on the generation of a comprehensive plan that will enable the institution to refocus its energies from crisis management to vigorous pursuit of excellence in academic programs, research, outreach and infrastructure. Therefore, the Faculty Council and I have together appointed you to engage in strategic planning for Montana State University, and we sincerely appreciate your willingness to join in this endeavor.

The committee is requested to conduct a careful study of the institution. In so doing, the committee should collect and evaluate data related to the university's special characteristics and consumers, its strengths and weaknesses, problems and deficiencies, opportunities and threats from without, and its current priorities and programs.

The committee should consider the following general subjects: fundamental university mission regarding teaching, research and outreach, issues related to the institutional environment, students and student support services, governance and administration. The end product of this process should be a statement of goals for the university and policy recommendations from the committee to be discussed and ratified by faculty, staff, students and administration.

Because of the institutional self-study prepared for the accreditation review in 1990, much of the data including departmental self studies need only be updated. Therefore, I would hope that by mid-autumn semester 1992, we could complete the first phase of this planning process--initial programmatic assessments and the formulation of fundamental goals for the institution. Then, we can enter the second phase of the process: the formulation of a strategic, comprehensive and multifaceted plan for our future courses of action.