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Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement

Preface

In August of 1994, Governor Racicot invited higher education to join him in a New Partnership, a partnership that would, in his words, push hard for efficiencies...[but also] push hard to reward efficiency, enterprise and productivity and positive results. This Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement demonstrates Montana State University-Bozeman's willingness to join in this New Partnership and to increase the effectiveness and efficiencies of the University so that it may serve even better the citizens of Montana. The Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement shares in this partnership in four ways. First, it establishes the groundwork for the partnership by focusing the resources of the University on goals that will serve the current and future needs of Montana. Second, it establishes clear accountability measures against which the University's progress can be assessed by those both inside and outside the institution. Third, it supports the principle that accountability must be balanced with opportunities for the campus to manage the inputs and the processes required to achieve these outcomes. Fourth, the Agreement is grounded in MSU-Bozeman's strong commitment to provide Montanan's access to higher education of the finest quality. Finally, the objectives of this Agreement can be achieved within Governor Racicot's and Commissioner Baker's proposed biennial budget.

For the past three years, MSU-Bozeman has been engaged in a collaborative, long-range planning process which brings faculty, staff, and administrators together in an ongoing project to discuss the evolving needs of students and the State in a changing environment, to identify University priorities, and to develop appropriate strategies by which MSU-Bozeman can better meet those needs. This process has provided an excellent vantage point from which the University can look to the future. Through the hard work of many members of the University community, MSU-Bozeman has reflected on where it needs to go and how it is going to get there. To this end, the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes project is a logical extension of these discussions.

As a land grant research university, MSU-Bozeman has many complex and distinctive roles in its service to Montana, all of which are fully described in its Long-Range Planning Document (presented to the Board of Regents in March, 1994, for approval). The Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement, which can be viewed as a subset of the Long-Range Planning Document, focuses primarily on the following themes in the near term, but these emphases, as they are developed in this Agreement, should not be construed as modifying in any respect the established missions and roles of MSU-Bozeman. It should be understood that the goals and outcomes described in this Agreement, though very much faculty-focused, will require increased activities and efforts on the part of administrative, professional, and classified personnel.


Process: Shared Governance

Montana State University-Bozeman strives to make institutional decisions and to administer the programs of the University through the process of shared governance and collaborative decision-making. The work of the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Task Force demonstrates this approach. During Fall Semester, 1994, President Malone initiated the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes project by calling for the formation of a task force with the charge to identify ways the University could develop new services, efficiencies and achievements in the education of our students, and to do so by building upon the work of the Long-Range Planning Committee.

We decided that the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Task Force should include members, not just from the faculty and administration, but also from the professional and classified staff, because they too have vital roles in the implementation of the University's goals. Consequently, we determined the membership of the Task Force through discussions and mutual agreement between the leadership of the MSU Faculty Council, the Classified Employees Personnel Advisory Committee, the Associated Students of MSU (to give students a voice in shaping goals aimed at enhancing the quality of their educations), and the President's Executive Council. Finally, MSU-Bozeman sought to employ the constructive approach used earlier at the University of Montana of bringing both the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Governor's Office directly into the work of the Task Force. (See Appendix A for the names of the participants.)

Because the work of the Task Force occurred within the context of shared governance, it was agreed that the recommendations of the Task Force would be circulated widely for review and comment among the members of the University community, e.g., Faculty Council Steering Committee, Faculty Council as a whole, Long-Range Planning Committee, Deans' Council, Assistant Deans' Council, Associated Students of MSU, Professional Employees Personnel Advisory Committee, Classified Employees Personnel Advisory Committee, and the President's Executive Council. Thus, this Agreement on Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes represents the efforts of the entire campus governance community at MSU-Bozeman, as well as those of members from outside the campus.


Approach of the Task Force on Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes

From the beginning, it was the intent of the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Task Force to identify the organizational goals that will make Montana State University-Bozeman even more responsive to the needs of Montana and to assure that the resources of the University are deployed in a manner to enhance productivity for Montana. In selecting the goals on which this Agreement focuses, the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Task Force drew not only on the MSU-Bozeman Long-Range Plan, but also on the strategic plans of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE), as outlined in the document Higher Education in Montana--Defining the Future. This plan calls for the revitalization of undergraduate education by (a) reaffirming its priority; (b) refocusing curriculum and resources, (c) emphasizing learning as an active, collaborative process, and (d) measuring institutional success by assessing student outcomes. The Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement fully embraces these objectives. Indeed, they are embodied in all the goals and outcomes the Task Force developed.

Moreover, the Task Force followed the lead of Governor Racicot who emphasized in his convocation address that higher education needs to "measure the quality of the outgoing product at least as well as the quality of the incoming product." Thus, the goals and assessment measures set out in this document focus on the outcomes, not the inputs, of the academic enterprise. The Task Force agreed that these goals must be accomplished with existing resources and through the hard work of MSU-Bozeman's faculty, staff, and administration. We wish to assure the citizens of Montana that the resources of the University are being used as productively as possible, and that the University will not seek additional taxpayer funds beyond the proposed biennial budget to achieve these goals.

The Task Force began its discussions by asking two fundamental questions: "What goals are to be served by MSU-Bozeman?" and "How will the University and the citizens of Montana know if they have been met?" This orientation is reflected in all the goal statements in this document. Rather than focus on processes and inputs, the goals address the tangible interests and needs of our students and citizens. By meeting these goals, as determined by clear, objectives measures, MSU-Bozeman will de facto better serve the State. Thus, the Task Force sought to balance clear accountability based upon the measurement of outcomes with the need to allow the campus itself to manage the inputs and the processes required to achieve these outcomes.

As it studied the goals and productivity of MSU-Bozeman, the Task Force also considered all the responsibilities of Montana's only land grant university and their relationship to undergraduate education. In this regard, the Task Force again shared the views expressed in OCHE's statement Defining the Future, which says, first, that "The primary role of Montana's universities is undergraduate education, and high quality should be the hallmark of our institutions," and, second, that "Montana's universities are critical to the state's economic development through work force preparation, improving the quality of life, making Montana a more attractive place for businesses and individuals, supporting the development of high-tech business and industry, and stimulating technology transfer and economic development activities." The Task Force also endorses the assertions of Ernest Boyer who described the faculty's educational responsibilities in four "separate, yet overlapping" roles: "the scholarship of discovery; the scholarship of integration; the scholarship of application; and the scholarship of teaching." The goals and outcome measures stated here set forth MSU-Bozeman's clear intention to fulfill its land grant mission as an educational leader and as a partner in the economic development of Montana in a manner that integrates these roles as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Finally, the Task Force undertook its work knowing that the University's goals are achieved through the process of shared governance. Through the ongoing collaboration of faculty, staff, students, and administrators, MSU-Bozeman will continue to develop appropriate innovative strategies to meet these goals. President Malone has already called for two additional collaborative task forces. One, the Implementation Task Force, which will work in concert with the University's Assessment and Outcomes program, will take the lead in developing implementation strategies in order to realize the goals of the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement. The second group, the Information Services Task Force, will produce an action plan for restructuring student and faculty access to information technologies. The action plans developed by these task forces will be presented for review and adoption by the Faculty Council and the campus community. This process will commence immediately upon adoption of this Agreement.

The Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement establishes goals to be accomplished through Fiscal Year 1999, thus covering the bienniums of FY94-95, FY96-97, FY98-99. As identified in the Agreement, many of the goals will be reached before the end of this period, while others will be achieved by FY 1999. The outcomes measures, using FY 1993 as the base year for assessment purposes, will focus attention on the institution's success and provide clear feedback to the University community and its other constituents on MSU-Bozeman's progress. (See Appendix B: Financial Implications of the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement.)


Commitment of Institutional Effort

In the process of developing the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Agreement, all the participants involved recognized the necessary commitment of human, financial, and physical resources embodied in the goals listed below. Rising enrollments since 1993 have already caused the fixed number of faculty and staff to do more instructional and advising work, and that trend is sure to continue. Between FY 1993 and FY 1995, student FTEs increased from 9,945.85 to 10,022.7, while faculty FTEs decreased from 515.28 to 511.00. This trend toward higher instructional workloads is sure to continue. The productivity of the faculty has further risen during this period as reflected by the rise in extramural funding from $25,900,000 to a projected total of more than $40,000,000.

The present Agreement establishes institutional goals that will necessitate a reallocation of effort and time, with greater emphasis upon undergraduate instruction and advising.The faculty and staff of Montana State University-Bozeman hereby commit not only to newly focused efforts in research, economic development, and educational outreach, but especially to these major new services to our undergraduate students:

  • Reduction in the time required to complete degree requirements

  • Four-year graduation guarantee contract.

  • Entirely new and improved system of advising.

  • New structure of high-quality, low-enrollment freshman seminar classes.

  • Major enhancement of student involvement in faculty research programs.

  • Provision of capstone or individualized senior courses for nearly all our students.

  • Provision of new electronic and computerized classroom and library facilities.

  • Much greater availability of course opportunities at nontraditional times.

  • Electronic course delivery to off-campus locations.

Institutional strategies to move resources toward undergraduate instruction include the reallocation of budgets and vacant positions and the reallocation of faculty effort away from under enrolled specialized courses and service functions and toward introductory and capstone courses, advising, and specialization in teaching. MSU-Bozeman's new Promotion and Tenure standards, already approved by the Faculty Council, provide an entirely new route for promotion to full professor based on excellence in teaching. In addition to greater specialization in teaching, the new Promotion and Tenure standards call for greater rewards for teaching and advising, and for multiple measurements of teaching effectiveness. Although recent four-year graduation rates have declined slightly (partly due to external factors such as the change to the semester system and tuition increases), these institutional strategies address and will remedy these trends.

Implementation of the Agreement will result in each academic department's and administrative unit's developing strategies to ensure that the level of effort and investment needed to meet the nine goals is in place. For example, in order to begin the critically important freshman seminars envisioned in the Agreement, the University's administration is working with the General Studies program to invest $69,000 by internal reallocation to continue and to increase the number of seminars initially begun under a FIPSE grant. Similarly, the College of Letters and Science will implement its seminars for the relatively low reinvestment price of $15,000 for the first year. Freshman seminars in the College of Letters and Science will use, in part, volunteer faculty services and teaching specialists. A $45,000 investment in the Department of English will facilitate the reduction in size of writing classes from 60 to 25 and the offering of many more sections. In each of these cases, existing budgets are being examined and reallocated on a priority basis which will result in channeling reallocated funds, vacancy savings, and buyouts into hiring teaching specialists whose primary duties are teaching undergraduate courses. This change reflects new policies related to differentiated faculty. The most important strategy here is the reallocation of existing faculty lines as they become open.

Workload

The impact of the Agreement on the workloads of individual faculty, staff, and administrators will vary with the specific needs and strategies of each unit. Taken in aggregate, however, the faculty and staff commitment to undergraduate instruction will increase.

As required by its land-grant and research missions, MSU-Bozeman's faculty workload has three components: 1) traditional teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, 2) research (scholarship and creative activities), and 3) service to the people of Montana. This document concentrates on the undergraduate teaching component and the creation of new knowledge (research), but the other components must be kept in mind, for they are integral parts of the faculty workload at MSU-Bozeman and not always separable from one another. We emphasize that the faculty at MSU-Bozeman already has a full (100%) workload as measured by any reasonable standards. Therefore, the workload implications of this document reflect a reallocation of resources and reaffirmation of commitment to quality and access in the undergraduate programs. The result is a shifting of effort towards undergraduate teaching, with increased efficiency related to additional access and quality, especially at the lower division level, while not reducing efforts to meet the scholarly or service missions of the institution. The estimated increased commitment by the University to undergraduate teaching is 15%.

The increased commitment to undergraduate teaching has several elements: freshman seminars which, when completely instituted, will significantly increase the total number of sections offered at MSU-Bozeman and contribute to retention; capstone courses which will also add to the total number of sections taught and will be a contributing factor in our assessment program; smaller writing sections and the establishment of recitation sections in science and social science curricula; and a significant strengthening of the undergraduate research activities. In addition, there will be an actual increase in teaching load for several categories of faculty. These include those faculty who choose the new route to promotion to full professor through teaching excellence, differentiated faculty who choose to put research aside and assume a full teaching load, and full-time adjunct instructors hired as excellent teachers.

We have also appointed a half-time intern director/coordinator of our new Assessment and Outcomes program. This person will also work with academic departments to develop additional capstone courses.

The most meaningful measure of the increases will be the successful achievement of the key goals described below.

Research Component

Workload at MSU-Bozeman, as it is at most research universities, has traditionally included about a third of a faculty member's time to meet research performance expectations. In addition to creating new knowledge, this time is crucially important to the state, for it provides undergraduate research opportunities not otherwise available. The research effort produces technology transfer of tremendous significance to the state and its economy.

During the past two years, the faculty at MSU-Bozeman has increased the extramural funding from $25.6 million to $36.2 million. This two-year change represents a 40% increase in the faculty's research productivity.

A very significant portion of this scholarly achievement is related to undergraduate education and directly applied to the systemic initiatives for science and math in K-12 education and for post-secondary teacher preparation, an area in which MSU-Bozeman is one of the leading institutions in the United States.

During the next two years, the overall extramural funding to MSU-Bozeman is expected to increase another 10%, thus exceeding $40 million per year. Nevertheless, this projection represents an average increase in quality faculty productivity of 15% over four years.

Reporting and Accountability

All parties to this Agreement recognize the need to report periodically on the University's progress toward attaining the goals outlined above. The outcomes measures listed in the Agreement establish clear standards against which the University's performance can be assessed. In order to use these measures for accountability purposes, baseline data have been established for most goals and sub-goals, while others are being developed presently. In some cases, new data collection instruments are being developed. In establishing these outcomes measures, the Productivity, Quality, and Outcomes Task Force incorporated the concept of continuous improvement, which recognizes that the work of improving the quality of education is never fully completed. There is always room for further improvement. Achieving fixed, objective goals does not mean that the work has been completed, only that a target has been reached. The concept of continuous improvement calls for the ongoing assessment of program or service quality and--even where that service is deemed of high quality--for continuous efforts to enhance it.

In addition, each year the University will provide a progress report to the campus community, the Commissioner of Higher Education, the Board of Regents, the Governor, and the general public. This report will summarize the progress made toward each of the goals and identify the next steps in implementation. This annual report will be supported by MSU-Bozeman's regular data collection processes, including the reinstatement of the Faculty Workload Report, budget distributions, student-faculty ratios, and academic program reviews.


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