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> Office of Planning & Analysis
Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement

Executive Summary


As Montana's land grant research university, Montana State University-Bozeman has many complex and distinctive roles to perform in its service to the citizens of Montana, all of which are fully described in its Long-Range Planning Document. The Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement, which can be viewed as a subset of the University's Long-Range Planning Document, focuses primarily on the following themes in the near term, but these emphases, as they are presented here, should not be construed as modifying in any respect the established missions and roles of Montana State University-Bozeman. Although the goals and outcomes described in the Agreement are very much faculty-focused, it should be understood that they will require increased activities and efforts on the part of administrative, professional, and classified personnel as well. Finally, the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement clearly demonstrates the commitment of the faculty, staff, students, and administration of Montana State University-Bozeman to serve the citizens of Montana as effectively and efficiently as available resources permit.

This Agreement, which is the collaborative work of faculty, students, staff, administrators, and external constituents, includes the views and beliefs of many individuals and groups. Truly the product of intense debate and discussion within the University community, which exemplifies the process of shared governance, this document focuses primarily on these Montana State University-Bozeman roles:

  • Improving access to and the quality of learning for all Montanans, with an estimated increased commitment by the University to undergraduate teaching of 15%.

  • Supporting the economic development of Montana through enhanced linkages with and support for the private and public sectors.

The Agreement pursues these roles in a manner that is consistent with the approach identified by both the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Governor as appropriate for higher education in Montana. More specifically, the Agreement:

  1. Establishes specific goals and objectives identifying the areas where the University and its faculty will focus their efforts and resources.

  2. Provides accountability measures that allow the citizens of Montana to assess the University's success in meeting these goals.

  3. Concentrates attention on the outcomes of the learning process and the development of innovative solutions, rather than on the measurement of inputs.

  4. Describes how the University plans to implement the proposed changes.

The Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement addresses nine areas to which the University will commit greater effort and attention. In each of these areas, the Agreement identifies multiple goals and outcomes measures and includes implementation methodologies. It also establishes requirements for reporting the progress of the University as it attains each of these goals during the coming years.

  1. Increase Access to Undergraduate Education by reducing the time to complete undergraduate degrees and to increase access to academic offerings for non-traditional students. MSU-Bozeman will pursue numerous strategies, detailed in the Agreement, to reduce the time to completion of degree requirements, particularly for first-time, full-time students. Non-traditional students, who are unable to attend on a full-time basis or during conventional day-time schedules, will be accommodated with self-paced learning opportunities, asynchronous course delivery, telecommunication-based course offerings, as well as conventional evening, weekend, and compressed course offerings.

  2. Enhance Quality and Availability of Advising so as to improve the quality of academic and career advising and to increase access to qualified advisors for students. New initiatives, some of them included in the Assessments and Outcomes program, will be established to provide faculty advisors with the most effective advising skills and the training to employ state-of-the-art information technologies for advising purposes. The Assessment and Outcomes program has established preliminary tracking mechanisms to track advisee cohorts. Furthermore, faculty advising performance will become a more influential factor in annual evaluations and merit pay decisions.

  3. Increase Quality of Undergraduate Education Through Smaller Classes and Active Learning to provide undergraduate students with greater access to smaller, seminar-style classes which will include a variety of teaching techniques that engage students more directly in their education. These modes of instruction can be particularly effective for freshmen and sophomore students. Active learning includes those pedagogical techniques which engage students directly in problem-solving, debate and discussion, the collection and analysis of information, and the application of knowledge to new situations or issues. Students who are active learners take responsibility for their own educations and are more likely to become life-long learners and more valuable employees.

  4. Increase the Quality of Undergraduate Education Through Expanded Involvement of Undergraduates in Research and Creative Work in order to provide all students opportunities to engage in independent work with faculty and colleagues, and to enable them to integrate concepts and ideas from across different fields of study. Building on the national reputation of its students (e.g., extraordinary success in Goldwater Scholarships and USA Today Academic All-Americans competitions), MSU-Bozeman's new Undergraduate Scholars Program will continue this impetus by increasing student and faculty awareness of undergraduate scholarship resources and opportunities and by further promoting faculty participation. The University will encourage academic departments to increase significantly the opportunities for capstone educational experiences which encourage students to synthesize their studies in a variety of culminating experiences such as senior theses or projects.

  5. Increase Quality of Education Through Greater Access to Information Technologies in ways that give all students access to computing and information technologies, that extend information technologies to the classrooms, and that expand the use of information technologies within the libraries. To accomplish these ends, MSU-Bozeman will re-allocate resources to expand and enhance information technologies systems.

  6. Reward and Further Develop Teaching Effectiveness by making effective teaching a primary criterion in awarding merit pay, by recruiting and supporting faculty as much on their teaching skills as on their research skills, and by providing more support for developing new teaching methods which will reflect the related instructional goals in this Agreement. MSU-Bozeman's recently developed and adopted University-wide promotion and tenure criteria incorporate standards which serve this purpose. For example, the new standards permit differentiated faculty tracks, a comparatively new concept in colleges and universities across the nation which enables faculty members, with the consent of their departments, to select a track of professional development that concentrates chiefly on teaching performance, rather than on the traditional mix of teaching and research. Significantly, faculty members who select the teaching track can achieve the rank of full professor via that route. Consequently, departments may search for and hire teaching specialists who will do more teaching than their traditional colleagues. This initiative will necessitate providing current members of the faculty opportunities to update their teaching skills.

  7. Continue Growth in External Funding Support for Student Learning to increase access to high quality equipment and facilities, to increase the number of students receiving financial support, and to keep faculty members at the forefront in the developing of knowledge in their fields. Increasingly, high-quality instruction and student learning depend upon the availability of equipment, instrumentation, and facilities that the State of Montana cannot afford to purchase without external funding support. At MSU-Bozeman, however, this margin of educational excellence is supported through the externally-funded research and educational programs of the faculty. Thanks to the grant and contract activities of the faculty and staff, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities can be provided to MSU-Bozeman's undergraduate students. In addition to transmitting information on the availability of external funding and enhancing faculty grant writing skills, the University must continue to identify sources for the matching funds required for successful grant proposals.

  8. Expand Off-Campus Access to Classes and Educational Resources Throughout Montana by increasing the use of telecommunications, by assuring that the focus of Extension and Outreach educational programs is on the critical needs of Montana, and by expanding the opportunities for place-bound, life-long learners to gain access to the information resources and services of the University. As a Montana's land grant university, MSU-Bozeman has always included extension and outreach to the citizens of the state as an integral part of its mission which it will continue to pursue by the application of new technologies. Clearly, the Burns Telecommunication Center and the presence of KUSM-TV on campus will be instrumental in fulfilling this mission.

  9. Enhance Access to MSU-Bozeman's Intellectual and Physical Resources Which Will Support the Economic Development of Montana through the transfer of new technologies, the provision of technical advice and assistance to the public and private sectors, and the maintenance of a highly trained work force. These efforts will make Montana more attractive to business and industry and thereby stimulate economic growth.


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