The LRPC has reviewed the 1994 Long Range Plan. The committee also revisited the mission statement of MSU. Below is a report of our findings by each of the 9 goals. Attached is a statement regarding the mission.
- Graduate broadly educated, professionally competent and socially responsible students.
The quality of undergraduate and graduate education and the general health and stability of the learning environment were top priorities when the Long Range Plan was developed and are still considered so by the current LRPC. The Productivity, Quality and Outcomes (PQ&O) document has given additional impetus to efforts to improve the quality of education, especially undergraduate education. The committee noted marked progress toward several of Goal 1's objectives. Significant strides have been made in recognizing the importance of and rewarding teaching effectiveness; the University Honors Program and the Undergraduate Scholars Program have grown and become substantially stronger; major improvements in technical support for undergraduate and graduate education have been made by the Libraries and ITC; and significant steps have been taken by Student Affairs and Affirmative Action to foster a healthy learning environment.
Some areas, however, merit increased attention. Funding support for the Libraries and for graduate student recruitment remains inadequate, especially recruitment from under-represented groups. There has been no progress toward the objective of ensuring that transfer students and students who pass beyond the freshmen year possess the skills necessary for upper division course work. Finally, advising continues to receive little or no attention in P&T decisions, and there has been no significant improvement in measuring teaching effectiveness. The committee strongly supports current efforts to address advising and teaching effectiveness. Examples of progress in advising are the freshman seminars, the Advising Task Force, and the effort to develop an advising assessment instrument. The Committee also strongly supports the efforts to develop a multi-dimensional teaching effectiveness evaluation.
- 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 have continued to grow since the Long Range Plan was approved. Certain focus activities supporting the strategies indicated in this goal have been implemented especially in biotechnology, environmental sciences, rural health care, and K-12 science and math education. Interdisciplinary research and cooperative programs with other universities have progressed to a limited extent.
The LRPC urges a continued commitment to research and creative activities as effort is focused on meeting the instructional goals of the PQ&O. The committee reiterates the importance of the involvement of classroom teachers in research and creative activities.
- Provide for the educational and developmental needs of Montana's citizens through a coordinated network of outreach and extension programs.
Considerable progress has been made in outreach. The committee, however, is concerned about whether the degree of coordination between outreach and extension is sufficient.
The LRPC suggests formulating a plan to coordinate and publicize outreach efforts, although the committee recognizes that this will be a formidable task as many entities on campus are involved in outreach efforts. This committee would be chaired by the VP for Outreach and would include a representative from each of the 7 colleges and General Studies and a representative from each of the following: the Library, Extended Studies, MSU Extension, New Student Services, University Relations, Communication Services, ASMSU, and the Strand Student Union. Perhaps other administrative units, institutes and centers such as KUSM and the Museum of the Rockies that are generally linked through one of the aforementioned groups might also need representation. The committee's coordination and communication of the many excellent outreach efforts should enhance the image of MSU-Bozeman.
- Attract, develop, and retain faculty and staff committed to excellence.
For faculty, there has been considerable progress on several fronts: with recent increases, salaries for incoming hires are more competitive; start-up packages have improved; opportunities for research support have increased; the importance of teaching has been emphasized in the new promotion and tenure document; and Faculty Council has been reorganized to provide for more wide-spread faculty participation in governance. The committee notes, however, that work is needed: to make salaries more competitive at the senior ranks; to provide additional resources to develop and support courses that use new technologies and innovative methods; to renew efforts to have individual instruction and thesis supervision considered part of faculty workload; and to examine how to support faculty spouses in terms of employment.
Professional employees are pleased that they will have an independent council, and that they will meet with the faculty as a reorganized University Council. Little progress has been made with regard to salary structure or the review process for professional employees.
The primary issue for classified staff clearly is salary. Benefits are relatively good, but increasingly costly and classified employees see themselves as regressing in terms of their standard of living and are quite concerned. MSU could examine additional benefits such as fee waivers and daycare.
- Attract and retain an academically qualified student population.
Notable progress has been made in student recruitment and retention. Recruiting efforts are addressing quality and diversity issues, new freshman seminars aim at improving retention, the Honors program has been expanded, and the Undergraduate Scholars and International Education programs are providing innovative, quality educational experiences.
Four issues that need continued attention are, in order of importance, reconciling enrollment needs with the importance of attracting top-quality students, better retention of freshmen through improved advising, increased support of recruitment scholarships, and more coordinated marketing of innovative summer courses and activities.
- Provide for a more multicultural and diverse faculty, staff and student body.
Since the publication of the Long Range Plan there is evidence of increased awareness of the importance of a diverse and multicultural campus community. The committee is pleased with the efforts exerted to support this goal. Statistics reflect a slow yet steady trend toward the diversity of faculty, staff, and student body since 1994. However, there has been a reversal at the administrative level.
The committee has several concerns. One is the adequacy of the services and support offered to students, faculty, staff, and administrators of more diverse backgrounds. The committee would like to see efforts to prioritize diversity issues in order to maximize the effects of a limited budget. Useful prioritizing questions include: How can we best support the varied needs of a non-traditional age student, a Native American, a welfare mom, a black athlete, a student with disabilities while they are involved in the educational experience at MSU? How can we address the more invisible diverse groups on campus in a way that provides for their needs as well as emphasizing the diversity they bring to formal and informal campus interaction?
- 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.
Great progress has been made toward meeting this goal. Most notable is the Burns Telecommunications Center with its Educational Technology Laboratory for use by faculty and staff to create more innovative teaching on campus, and in terms of distance learning across the MSU system units and around the state. The Renne Library system has benefitted greatly by technological improvement. Ethernet services are being extended to all faculty and staff.
Issues remaining to be addressed include the concern about strategic planning in a rapidly changing technological environment, and the importance of providing all faculty and relevant staff with computers at their desks.
- Upgrade and maintain the University facilities and grounds to provide for efficient use of these resources and for a safe, supportive, and accessible environment.
The parking issue has been resolved for the time being with substantial fee increases. The classified employees will be given a $30.00 fee waiver to help pay the added expense.
The ongoing steam tunnel system improvement project is addressing one of the worst maintenance problems on campus. The lighting system on campus has been vastly improved. The LRPC suggests that a source of adequate funding be identified to maintain and improve the use of all facilities and grounds (including parking lots). Also, funding for essential disability access projects such as restrooms and signage should be aggressively pursued.
MSU has a shortage of financial resources and these must be effectively used to assure optimal benefit. The LRPC would like to know how problems are being addressed with campus services regarding inefficiencies that hinder opportunities to upgrade and maintain university facilities (i.e., union regulations, price departments pay for services). A better communication system with Facilities Services needs to be developed and implemented; for example, construction projects totaling approximately $160 million dollars are currently in the preliminary planning stage, the design phase, or in various phases of construction, and this information was not communicated to the LRPC in the memo from Facilities Services.
- Improve administrative policies and procedures to ensure effective and efficient use of the University's resources, and to enhance public awareness of MSU.
Considerable effort has been directed to developing communication between administration, faculty, and MSU's public constituencies. While communication with faculty is principally through Faculty Council, extensive opportunities for communication with the public have been developed. Some restructuring at the departmental level has produced greater administrative efficiency in at least two colleges. Access to computers and the campus network has increased for faculty, students, and administrative staff. The result is better communication and less stressful student/staff registration.
Most critical to MSU's health and growth is a clear articulation of university goals that are shared by faculty, administrators, and students, and are understood and supported by the public. This will require continued dialogue and effective communication.
The information in this memo is supported by a systematic assessment of progress toward each of the nine goals. These materials consist of the abbreviated reports LRPC members used in their presentations to the committee during deliberations. They may be obtained through the Faculty Council Secretary, Joann Amend.