President Cruzado's Speeches

Waded Cruzado, President, Montana State University
All-day MSU Open House and Conversation on Sept. 11, 2013

Welcome to our first Open House & Conversation, a day-long opportunity to share information and seek recommendations from faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends of Montana State University.

This year marks the 120th anniversary of our institution. We celebrate this landmark with some notable accomplishments in our university's history:

  • In a few days, we will announce the fall 2013 enrollment, which we believe will be MSU's largest enrollment in its history.
  • We have begun construction of a new building for the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship launched by Jake Jabs' gift of $25 million to his alma mater.
  • We have just opened a beautiful state-of-the art residence hall, Gallatin Hall.
  • There is a tremendous enthusiasm for all things Bobcat, not only on our campus, but in our community and state.

I cannot help but think if back in 1893 when the Montana State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts was established, our founders' envisioned the dynamic and respected institution that Montana State University is today. So let's pay homage to that vision by reviewing our accomplishments and projects in terms of MSU's foundational mission and the goals of our strategic plan to further our land-grant institution.

LEARNING

History books tells us that for the first three months of the first year there were only two teachers at Montana State College, including the president and a business teacher, and 14 students, all males, who attended classes in a vacant high school building. Shortly after, the university held classes in an old roller-skating rink until founding father Nelson Story donated 40 acres next to the county poor farm that he purchased for $1,500. By the end of the year under newly appointed President A.M. Ryon, the number of faculty had risen to seven.

Today, those first 14 students have increased more than 1,000 fold as we expect our enrollment will top 15,000 for the first time in our university's history.

These student numbers create an energy and excitement on campus that is palpable, as we saw last week when we celebrated MSU's 2013 Freshman Convocation, in which award-winning writer Yann Martel delivered an inspiring talk on the role of choice in our lives.

There is a great deal of interest in our current enrollment, which will not be official until our census on Sept. 25. However, let me share some preliminary facts which also tell us about our success in advancing access:

  • As of today, student FTE, or full time equivalent, is up about 500 versus this time last year. This means that, in addition to growing in terms of headcount, more students are enrolling in more credit hours at MSU.
  • At the end of orientation this year, 58 percent of new freshmen enrolled in 15 credits or more. This number is important to us as this will be our second fall promoting one of our key student-success initiatives, the "Freshman 15," which encourages all students to take 15 credits or more per semester. Since there is no additional tuition charged at MSU for any credit after the first 12, students can save thousands of dollars by taking more credits per semester. We're happy to report that students are listening: In the fall of 2011, nearly 50 percent of new freshman took 15 credits; that number, as I said, has now jumped up to 58 percent.
  • The enrollment of Montana resident students is also up.
  • Non-traditional aged student enrollment is also pointing north.
  • As we look at subcategories, we see that the enrollment of students who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native is slightly down students from a year ago, but that is up from Fall 11 census, so we look forward to a continued upward trend in Native enrollment.
  • As of today, we expect a small increase in veterans enrolled at MSU with 580 veterans enrolled this semester, about 45 more than last year.
  • The Average ACT score of MSU students remains at an-all time high at 25.2.
  • Our graduate student numbers are up nearly 100 students to 1,980.

Our freshmen aren't the only new faces on campus this year. This semester we also welcomed over 150 new employees, including 46 new tenure-track faculty members.

Another new development linked to our teaching mission is a request that the Montana Board of Regents will consider next week to upgrade MSU's award-winning university honors program to MSU's 11th large academic unit, the Honors College. We are also asking the Board of Regents to elevate the director of honors, Dr. Ilse-Mari Lee, to become dean of the college. We are very proud of the director's many contributions to MSU and eager to call her Dean Lee.

Certainly, this has been a banner year in terms of the many MSU students who have received some of the country's top scholarships.

Here are just a few of the top awards and honors received by MSU students during the previous year:

  • Former Student Regent Joe Thiel won a Rhodes Scholarship.
  • Blake Bjornson won a Udall Scholarship.
  • Dani Clark who last year served as the ASMSU lobbyist at the Montana Legislature, was named a Newman Civic Fellow.
  • Elizabeth Browning received a Fulbright Fellowship.
  • Kevin Murray won a Seydel Scholarship.
  • Bryan Vadheim became MSU's first Marshall Scholar

MSU was one of just four universities in the country to have all four of its nominees receive prestigious Goldwater Scholarships for excellence in science, math and engineering. MSU's 2013 Goldwater Scholars were: Alissa Bleem, Natasha Pettinger, Brian Redman, and Matt Sherick.

MSU has now received 58 Goldwater Scholarships, which the Goldwater Foundation tells us puts MSU in the top 10 institutions in the country in the number of Goldwaters received. We are tied with Johns Hopkins University. Other universities in the top 10 include Princeton, Harvard, Duke and the University of Chicago. So, we are in good company.

Last month, the state of Montana committed to the Complete College America program. President Obama has instituted a national goal to increase the number of students who receive a college degree and improve the nation's economic competitiveness. Governor Bullock has already urged to increase the percentage of the population with a higher education credential from 40 percent to 60 percent. MSU is already well-positioned to advance this initiative and Commissioner Christian will join us this afternoon to discuss this project in more detail.

We are also very proud to announce that $13 million in scholarships were awarded to MSU students in 2012-13. This includes nearly $2.3 million in scholarships from the MSU Alumni Foundation. Just this week we learned that the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Rail Link have given $10,000 to the Leadership Institute in support of MSU's Year of Engaged Leadership. The gift will support students in exploring how their leadership potential can drive positive change in our communities.

DISCOVERY

When the University was founded 120 years ago, the envisioned a university that would teach agriculture and practical education that would benefit the state. Yet, the university's first president, Augustus M. Ryon, was an engineer, and scientific training of its students was emphasized nearly from the beginning of Montana State's history.

One of the early faculty members who embodied the importance of research on the lives of Montanans was Robert Cooley, one of the first faculty members and an entomologist who came to the state to battle a catastrophic grasshopper infestation, and whose research and work as Extension's first director led to the understanding that ticks were vectors of the devastating Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Today, research scientists at MSU continue work on many fronts MSU is working to advance science and improve the lives of Montanans and people around the globe.

This fall MSU welcomed its first cohort of 25 to Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree program. This program is the only doctorate program in nursing in Montana. It offers two areas of specialty: Family Nurse Practitioner; or the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialty.

We also welcomed an additional 10 students to the WWAMI medical education program, which gives Montana students the opportunity to become physicians and serve their state. It's the first expansion of the WWAMI program from the initial 20 slots in almost 40 years. Montana WWAMI students take their first year of medical school in our campus, expertly taught by MSU faculty. We are glad to have all 30 of these excellent students on our campus this year.

We're also currently recruiting for the first class of veterinary medicine students, who will begin coursework on campus next fall. The cooperative program is modeled after WWAMI and is the only veterinary medicine program in the state. We're very grateful to our supportive legislators and the governor for funding these programs during the 2013 Legislature.

This year, following the objectives of our strategic plan, we are working to enrich graduate education on our campus. The Graduate School established a new PhD Enhancement Fund for academic year 2013-14. This last summer, $324,000 was allocated to support 18 additional GTA lines with $18,000 stipends. These additional assistantships will help us increase PhD productivity and further the academic preparation of our doctoral candidates.

The Graduate School also was awarded $46,000 in Strategic Investment Proposal funding to enhance graduate recruitment. A portion of that is being used to complete the purchase of College Net, a graduate admission processing package, to align MSU (eventually, all four campuses) with the graduate admissions processes used in the rest of the state. This is moving us towards a time where we can cooperate with other institutions on graduate recruitment. We thank dean Ron Larsen for his excellent work.

We have received a number of items of good news about research and discovery in the past year.

First, there were 841 grant proposals submitted through the Office of Sponsored Programs by 369 investigators for a total of submissions that exceeded $258 million.

The average proposal amount was $286,288. Of that 452 proposals were awarded with a total award amount in excess of $47,000 with an average award amount of $104,636. Total grant expenditures for 2013 were $93,753,058.

We opened this academic year knowing that we have a challenge in our research office resulting from several factors: from the unclear signals from the federal government about funding for research because of sequestration, to the loss of one-time stimulus funding to a decline in the number of grants awards. An additional stressor to the research budget--albeit a positive one--was the number of hires of new faculty with accompanying start up requirements.

With challenges, come opportunities. With the hiring of a large number of talented faculty we have an opportunity to reenergize our grants, contracts and projects. We also plan to capitalize on this moment to enhance interdisciplinary endeavors, expand on areas ripe for scholarly collaboration and to promote a better integration of research compliance across campus with the creation of the Office of Research Compliance and the hire of Justin Cook.

Additional opportunities on the horizon include: the submission of the renewal of Montana's NIH INBRE grant; the potential for more integration of undergraduate students in research, and the plan to increase the number of Ph.D. at MSU, moving away from the levels where it has remained for the last 10 years. We thank Anne Camper for her excellent work in her role as VP for Research.

MSU was fortunate to have a number of our faculty members receive national awards last year.

We just learned that Josh Obar, an MSU immunologist, is one of just five scientists from around the world who will receive a Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Microbiology.

  • Nico Yunes, physics, received a $500,000 Young Investigator CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.
  • Rob Maher, electrical and computer engineering, received the 2012 Outstanding Advising Award for the faculty category from the National Academic Advising Association.
  • Steve Albert, director of Montana State University's Western Transportation Initiative, received the inaugural award for administrative leadership, bestowed jointly by the Council of University Transportation Centers and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

In addition, a number of MSU students have received national research awards:

Last week Josh Robbins, a senior in Civil Engineering, received a highly competitive U.S. Department of Defense Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation scholarship.

Vanessa Murray, a doctoral candidate in chemistry, received a National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship.

And a total of seven MSU graduates received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

ENGAGEGMENT

We can say with certainty that our university was rooted in outreach, for an emphasis on service was the spirit of the 1914 Smith-Lever Act that gave us the Extension service. What an opportune time to celebrate one century of excellence in service to each of the counties in Montana that allows us to assert with pride that the entire state is our campus.

This summer outreach was demonstrated when a busload of campus officers traveled throughout Montana on a two-day Beef Tour, to meet stockgrowers around the state, chat in feedlots and cafes, and ask what MSU can do for their industry and for the sons and daughters they send to Montana State University.

Certainly, agriculture is extremely important to Montana State, so we are happy to announce that this year MSU Ag Days will return to campus Nov. 14-16, thanks to the efforts and the leadership demonstrated by our students, alumni and Extension staff. About 700 high school students from across the state will come to campus and compete in a variety of agriculture related contests, giving us an opportunity to recruit, quite literally, the best of the crop. I would like to thank Dr. Jill Martz for her service as Director of Extension.

Tomorrow we will be inaugurating the REAL Montana program, aimed at preparing the next generation of agricultural business leaders in the state. I want to thank Janelle Booth for her tireless efforts in bringing this program to fruition.

Also, we are exploring the possibility that the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, or BIFAD, may select MSU as the board's site for its annual meeting next summer. The board advises the U.S. Agency for International Development on nutrition and global agricultural issues and projects with the ultimate goal to eradicate hunger in the world. I have extended an invitation to my fellow board members to come to MSU.

INTEGRATION

Integration of learning, discovery, and engagement is a marquee feature of MSU strategic plan (thank you, Chris Fastnow and Planning Council!). A wonderful example of this innovative integration is the Year of Engaged Leadership, which was launched last week at Freshman Convocation.

The Year of Engaged Leadership highlights MSU's events and activities that develop leadership in our students, faculty, staff and community members. Our hope is to inspire campus- and community-wide conversations about what it means to be a leader. Each month we will highlight one characteristic of leadership through lectures, discussions, films, and other events with the aim of encouraging students, faculty and staff members to make a difference in the world.

Just last night, Regents Professor Trevor Douglas launched the Provost's Distinguished Lecturer Series with his lecture. The series, which is part of the Year of Engaged Leadership, recognizes outstanding MSU faculty for being leaders in their discipline and in the community.

Another example of integration is the Blackstone LaunchPad a new campus entrepreneurship program launched this summer and scheduled for a start later this semester. Available to all university students regardless of major, the Blackstone LaunchPad will be a wonderful complement to our many efforts to foster entrepreneurship in our students. Thank you to alumna Kitty Saylor and to Carina Beck, from the Office of Student Success, and Becky Mahurin, from the Office of Research, for your help in this endeavor.

And, finally, we have announced the first OneMSU Symposium to be celebrated on October 29-30. The objective is to hold a 4-campus meeting in Bozeman, exploring ways in which we can advance our students and our faculty in a unified and strategic manner.

STEWARDSHIP

Our strategic plan also has a section devoted to stewardship. In this area, our efforts in support of sustainability are of capital importance. This summer we made a number of changes to improve our campus' energy and resource efficiency, including a $1.8 million investment in new double-pane windows in the North Hedges Tower and a $2.3 million water pipe project that should save the university $110,000 annually in water costs and also reduce demand on the city water system.

We are also emphasizing sustainability in many sectors of our campus. We salute the work of the MSU Office of Sustainability and its many projects and initiatives to promote sustainability in MSU's buildings and grounds, in campus energy conservation, in greenhouse emission, the University Food Service, transportation and recycling efforts.

This year homecoming will be celebrated October 5 when the MSU Bobcats will play Northern Arizona. A score of activities are planned for the weekend, including a symposium at 3 p.m. Oct. 4 that will honor the presidency of William Tietz, who was MSU's president from 1977-1990. Bill and a number of the administrators and state officials from his tenure will be on hand to discuss the university then and now and how his presidency came to define MSU's modern era. Please join us for this conversation.

In November, the voters of Gallatin County will hold a special mail-ballot election in November asking county residents to consider a 1.5-mill levy to support Gallatin College. We are proud of the growth that Dean Bob Hietala has registered for Gallatin College and we thank him for his many accomplishments.

INFRASTRUCTURE

It is obvious visually that our campus is booming, yet our campus' core remains the buildings built more than 100 years ago -- Montana Hall, Linfield and Taylor Halls.

I'd like to highlight several construction projects this summer that have resulted in improvements to campus:

  • Linfield Hall received a new elevator and stair tower added to the South end of Linfield North. The large lecture room, Linfield 125, and other adjacent rooms were remodeled. The project makes North and South Linfield 90% ADA accessible.
  • Cheever Hall received seismic upgrades.
  • Many here are grateful about the addition of nearly 800 parking slots to our lots, including an upgrading and reopening of Harrison Street.
  • And, we opened the beautiful Gallatin Hall, a state-of-the-art suites dormitory, which allows returning students to live in a suite configuration. The building emphasizes sustainable living, and had extensive student input in its design. The new hall, which was built using sustainable construction methods and is LEED gold certified, provides housing for 72 upper classmen students. Renovations to other residence halls added housing for another 50 students across campus.

Next week we will brief the Board of Regents about the necessary steps that would culminate in the building of a new 400-bed residence hall for freshmen students. The new residence hall would cost roughly $35 million. If approved, the university would request the Board of Regents to issue bonds to finance its construction, with delivery of the project slated for summer 2016. The bonds would be repaid with student housing fees.

Along with a new residence hall, the university is also examining the potential for $18 million in bonds for the renovation to its aging dining facilities, which now serve 6,500 meals each weekday. The renovations would replace equipment and infrastructure, much of it dating from the 1950s and 1960s and redesigning the halls for greater seating capacity, improved disability access, and a more contemporary feel.

If approved, renovations to Miller Dining Hall would be completed in time for a fall 2014 opening; renovations to Harrison Dining Hall would be completed in time for a fall 2015 opening; and renovations to Hannon Dining Hall would be completed in time for a fall 2015 or fall 2016 opening.

And, what would a state of the university speech at MSU be without mentioning our Bobcat athletics program?

We all know about the Bobcat teams' aim to succeed on the playing venues, in the classroom and ultimately in life. We are happy to report that the average MSU team GPA for the 12-13 academic year was 3.16. Our athletes' six-year graduation rate overall is 77%, compared to 51 % for the general MSU student population. Thank you, Peter Fields and all.

There is a great deal of excitement about the Bobcat football team. I was honored to accompany the team to Dallas this past weekend, where MSU nearly upset Southern Methodist. I want you to know how proud I am of how the Bobcats conducted themselves both on and off the field.

And, speaking of being proud of our Bobcats, we were extremely proud when Caleb Schreibeis won the Buck Buchanan Trophy last December as the as the top defensive player in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Caleb was the first Bobcat to receive a major national individual award in the university's history. It's a good time to be a Bobcat!

In closing, one indication that the school that was established 120 years ago on the hill in Bozeman continues to advance in national prominence and visibility is that MSU recently earned the 255th spot on Forbes' "America's Top 300 Colleges" list. This was the highest rank earned by a public or private institution in Montana. MSU also ranked higher than many of its peer universities in the West, including Washington State University, Colorado State University and Oregon State University.

Certainly, none of these accomplishments could have been possible without you, our extremely dedicated and hard-working MSU faculty and staff, and our very supportive alumni and friends.

Thank you for your time today; we look forward to a day of meaningful conversations.