Strategic Plan Progress Report 2015

President's Letter

Dear Colleagues:

In 2012, the Montana State University community approved a new strategic plan, Mountains and Minds: Learners and Leaders, that sets overarching goals for the university and relies on all of us — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and our community partners — to contribute to its success. The entire MSU family participates in the strategic plan every day, imagining new ways to achieve our goals and aligning resources with those outcomes.

You will see in the following pages that even three years into this plan cycle, the goals we set forth still guide us. We continue to rely on the strategic plan to direct our investments, encourage innovation, and drive integration across learning, discovery, and engagement as well as across disciplines.

We have more to accomplish as we head into the fourth year. Join me in celebrating our progress and committing to continued good work set forth in the strategic plan.


Waded Cruzado signature
Waded Cruzado


side view of Jabs Hall

Learning Return to Top Progress Report 2015

MSU has always prepared graduates to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Successful, sought-after graduates are part of our legacy, and preparing students is central to our mission. MSU students learn in the classroom, lab, studio, and field, through a hands-on, student-centered curriculum that integrates learning, discovery, and engagement in and out of the classroom.

Goal:MSU prepares students to graduate equipped for careers and further education.


Objective L.1:Assess, and improve where needed, student learning of critical knowledge and skills.
Objective L.2: Increase graduation rates at MSU.
Objective L.3:Increase job placement and further education rates.


  • Continue to improve assessment of learning outcomes in CORE and major programs, including a thorough review of the CORE
  • Target success in key introductory level courses with supplemental instruction, flipped classrooms, co-curricular study options, resource centers, and peer mentoring
  • Improve and add to advising and student success programs, including proactively intervening with at-risk students
  • Reach out to students who have stopped out to encourage re-enrollment

Budget alignment(2014–15 investments unless otherwise noted)

  • $2 million from MSU’s success in the statewide performance funding model for competitively awarded academic and student success programs to further enhance learning outcomes, retention, and graduation
  • Ongoing $200,000 to support strategic investment proposals for Math, Statistics, and Chemistry instructional redesign and enhancement
  • $168,000 for Return 2 Learn, a project to connect with and advise students who have stopped out to help them achieve a bachelor degree
  • $350,000 for additional Technology Enhanced Active Learning spaces
  • $35 million for new 400-bed residence hall serving first-year students underway, move in ready in Fall 2016
  • $60,000 in continuing support to expand the Writing Center’s capacity and scope


  1. Outstanding Students—MSU students garner national awards.
    • For the first time in the university’s history, two Montana State University students were awarded Truman Scholarships, a highly competitive and prestigious scholarship given to college juniors with demonstrated leadership potential and commitment to public service. Alexander Paterson, an economics major from Salt Lake City, and Cara Thuringer, a liberal studies (environmental studies concentration) and photography double-major from Sioux Falls, S.D., were MSU’s 10th and 11th Truman Scholars.
    • Cara Thuringer won the trifecta of national honors: a Udall Scholarship in the environmental category, a Boren Scholarship that will fund a year of study in Ghana next year, and the Truman Scholarship. “To have all three (of the awards) come together is a dream come true,” Thuringer said.
    • Phyu Pannu Khin came to MSU from Burma through a U.S. Embassy scholarship, which placed her at MSU because of her interest in neuroscience. Khin received numerous recognitions including being named MSU international student of the year, a National Society of Collegiate Scholar, Montana Academy of Sciences Scholar, Montana INBRE Research Scholar, The Claremont Foundation Scholar, Prospect Burma U.K. Scholar, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute Scholar. When she missed home, she gained strength from her father’s endurance as a political prisoner for five years. Pannu not only thrived at Montana State but inspires her peers and professors alike. She graduated with honors in cell biology and neuroscience (biomedical science option) in the College of Letters and Science and a degree from the Honors College.
    • Montana State University students Brigit Noon, Anna Scott, and Riley Shearer received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering. MSU has now produced 64 Goldwater scholars, keeping the university one of the nation’s top institutions for number of recipients.
  2. School of Choice—Montana State University continues to attract the top academically ranked high school scholars from the state with 67 percent of the Montana University System Honor Scholarship recipients attending MSU, more than all of the other Montana schools combined. In addition, test scores and grade point averages of incoming students are the highest recorded in 25 years. The average SAT score for first-time freshmen who enrolled full-time at MSU this fall is 1720, while their average ACT score is 25.3. The average high school grade point average for the same group is 3.43.
  3. Innovative Academic Programs
    • Eleven students in Montana State University’s first class of the Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Utah (WIMU) Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine received their white coats in Fall 2014. MSU’s participation in the program was approved by the Montana Legislature and Gov. Steve Bullock during the 2013 session to bolster the state’s veterinarian workforce, especially in the area of large-animal vets in under-served rural areas. The program will also provide affordable access to Montana students wishing to pursue veterinary medical education.
    • Montana State’s new financial engineering program will allow undergraduate students to major or minor in financial engineering with a curriculum spanning the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics in the College of Agriculture and the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in the College of Engineering. Financial engineers commonly work in banking, corporate finance, securities, insurance, manufacturing, agricultural businesses, and other industries that require sophisticated financial management skills. They analyze risk, create strategic business opportunities, look for ways to lower costs, and access new markets by combining new and existing financial economic instruments.
  4. From Classroom to Competition
    • A group of engineering and architecture students from Montana State took first place among an international field with their integrated sustainable building design in a competition sponsored by the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE. The interdisciplinary group’s hard work paid off with a win in MSU’s first entry into the ASHRAE integrated sustainable building competition category.
    • Four students from Montana State University’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences placed second in the Western Region Academic Quadrathlon. The MSU team competed with four other universities in the western region in a four-part contest that consisted of a comprehensive written exam, impromptu oral presentation, hands-on lab practicum, and a double-elimination quiz bowl tournament.
    • Twelve students from Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and College of Arts and Architecture placed second at the regional level of the National Student Advertising Competition. The award was for an extensive integrated campaign that included target market research, multimedia and email strategies, guerrilla marketing tactics, strategic partnerships, mobile apps, and social media.
  5. Recognized Innovation in Teaching—Montana State University won an innovation in teaching technology award from the Northwest Academic Computing Consortium for its use of technology-enhanced active learning, or TEAL, classrooms. The award recognizes MSU’s innovations in teaching with technology as part of the university’s effort to increase the percentage of students who achieve learning outcomes in key gateway courses and go on to earn their degrees.
A group of MSU engineering and architecture students took first in an international field with their submission in an integrated sustainable building design competition.

A group of MSU engineering and architecture students took first in an international field with their submission in an integrated sustainable building design competition.

Cara Thuringer, recipient of a Udall Scholarship, a Boren Scholarship and a Truman Scholarship.

Cara Thuringer, recipient of a Udall Scholarship, a Boren Scholarship and a Truman Scholarship.

Phyu Pannu Khin, from Yangon, Myanmar, graduated with the MSU class of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in cell biology and neuroscience.

Phyu Pannu Khin, from Yangon, Myanmar, graduated with the MSU class of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in cell biology and neuroscience. 


MSU’S most recent Goldwater Scholars(left to right): Brigit Noon, Riley Shearer and Anna Scott.

MSU’S most recent Goldwater Scholars (left to right): Brigit Noon, Riley Shearer and Anna Scott.

Discovery Return to Top Progress Report 2015

Innovative and significant research and creative activities are a recognized hallmark of MSU, where faculty, students, and staff all participate in the creation of knowledge and art.

Goal:MSU will raise its national and international prominence in research, creativity, innovation, and scholarly achievement, and thereby fortify the university’s standing as one of the nation’s leading public research universities.


Objective D.1:Elevate the research excellence and recognition of MSU faculty.
Objective D.2:Enhance infrastructure in support of research, discovery and
creative activities.

Objective D.3:Expand the scale, breadth and quality of doctoral education.


  • Improve support for faculty active in research and creative activity through enhanced professional development, additional financial support, and facilities improvements
  • Increase the number of grant-active faculty through strengthened grant-writing support, expanded collaboration across disciplines, and opportunity hires
  • Expand interdisciplinary efforts in research, creative activity, and graduate education
  • Increase capacity and strengthen recruiting for high quality graduate programs by improving the number and amount of graduate stipends, encouraging more faculty to advise doctoral students, and establishing timely pathways to degree completion

Budget alignment (2014–15 investments unless otherwise noted)

  • $680,000 in additional salary and research support to retain MSU’s talented faculty
  • $3.5 million committed in new faculty startup packages for 2014-15 hires
  • $565,000 for market, merit, equity, and promotion increases for tenured and tenure-track faculty
  • New $15 million statewide research initiative funded by the Montana Legislature generated six outstanding proposals from MSU faculty, with recipients to be announced and awarded in FY16.
  • $200,000 from the Provost’s Office for competitively awarded graduate assistantships, meritorious fellowships, enhanced graduate recruitment and retention
  • $450,000 institutional investment for additional payments to graduate assistants.
  • $240,000 for Native American graduate students in science and engineering committed for FY15 through FY17 to match MSU’s successful Sloan Foundation grant
  • $170,000 institutional match for NSF ADVANCE grant to improve gender equity in STEM fields
  • $1 million institutional investment to support ongoing research initiatives
  • $100,000 in Presidential Research Grant program


  1. Improving Graduate Education for Native Americans in STEM—A new four-year grant awarded from the National Science Foundation will enable Montana State and partner institutions to create an Indigenous mentoring model for American Indian graduate students in STEM degree programs. The Pacific Northwest Alliance will develop a circuit for success through strategic activities for underrepresented students in STEM.
  2. Major Research Initiatives
  3. Publishing Prowess
    • Montana State University professor John Priscu, the chief scientist of a massive U.S. expedition to sample below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice sheet, co-authored an article detailing the project’s findings in the Aug. 21 issue of Nature. In this breakthrough paper, the research team proved unequivocally that Antarctica is not a dead continent. The MSU-led team’s data in the Nature paper is the first direct evidence that life is present in the subglacial environment beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.
    • The Oct. 17 issue of Science highlighted Montana State’s major role in a satellite studying the sun. Five papers in a special section devoted to that satellite included MSU solar physicists Charles Kankelborg and Sarah Jaeggl and others in Montana State’s Solar Physics group as authors. In addition, the cover also carried two photos that came from solar instruments involved in MSU research.
    • Montana State University researchers have made a significant contribution to the understanding of a new field of DNA research that holds enormous promise for fighting infectious diseases and genetic disorders. Blake Widenheft, senior author of the paper published in the Aug. 7 issue of Science, and assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology studied viruses that infect bacteria. He discovered that bacteria have evolved sophisticated immune systems to fend off viruses, and they now have a precise molecular blueprint of a surveillance machine that is critical for viral defense.
    • Montana State University research was featured on the covers of at least five scientific journals in October.  ScienceApplied and Environmental Microbiology, the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, the Journal of Neuroscience, and Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry ran MSU artwork, photos and images on their covers. Related articles were written by scientists in MSU’s departments of cell biology and neuroscience, chemistry and biochemistry, earth sciences, electrical and computer engineering, microbiology and immunology, and physics.
    • Lance McNew, a faculty member in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, was lead author of a scientific article selected as the 2014 outstanding article in wildlife publications. It ran in the Journal of Wildlife Management and described findings about greater prairie-chickens, an indicator species for tallgrass prairie in North America. 
    • Bill Schell, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and Sandra Kuntz, associate professor in the College of Nursing, won the Ted Eschenbach Award for the best paper submitted to Engineering Management Journal (EMJ) from the American Society of Engineering Management for an interdisciplinary paper exploring the leadership behaviors among nurses and engineers working to improve health care processes.  The paper, entitled “Driving Change from the Middle: An Exploration of the Complementary Roles and Leadership Behaviors of Clinical Nurse Leaders and Engineers in Healthcare Process Improvement,” came out of an effort to find ways for the College of Nursing to collaborate with Industrial Engineering on healthcare improvement efforts. This particular partnership stemmed from a $744,471, five-year grant from the Health Resources Services Administration. 
  4. Distinguished Faculty
    • Erik Grumstrup, the first faculty member hired in the new interdisciplinary and multi-institution Materials Science Graduate Program, received the five-year, $750,000 early career award from the U.S. Department of Energy.
    • Gail Small, professor of Native American Studies at Montana State University, was been named a 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellow. Based at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, the program honors 20 leaders in environmental research who come from 16 institutions in the U.S. and Canada. Small was selected for her research about the “intersections of land and resource management, culture, and the environment within the broader context of the sovereign rights of indigenous peoples and contemporary climate change.” “I am honored to be part of such a diverse group of intellectual leaders,” said Small, who is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and an international speaker on indigenous issues. “I am looking forward to learning from them, while also broadening the discourse and knowledge base.”
    • Nico Yunes, a Montana State University astrophysicist who investigates some of the biggest mysteries in the universe, won the world’s most prestigious award for young scientists conducting gravitational research, the 2015 Young Scientist Prize administered by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics through the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation.
    • Jim Wilking, faculty member in Chemical and Biological Engineering, received the National Science Foundation’s Young Investigator CAREER Award, a five year grant to investigate the physical and material properties of biofilms, the mechanics of soft materials, and other topics related to the clumping together of microorganisms.
    • Sachiko Tsuruta, professor of Physics, received the Marcel Grossmann Prize, a prestigious international award for her pioneering work on neutron stars. Her most important contribution to astrophysics is said to be her prediction that neutron stars existed. She made that prediction before pulsars were discovered. Tsuruta also made predictions about the cooling and heating of neutron stars. Her predictions have since been proven true by the Hubble Space Telescope, ground-based telescopes, and telescopes in X-ray satellite missions.
  5. International Scientific Prominence—For the second year in a row, Montana State University earned a spot on the CWTS Leiden Ranking, which orders the 750 universities in the world with the largest contributions in international scientific journals. MSU is one of only 158 U.S. universities to be included on the list.
  6. Recognized Tech Transfer—The website Great Value Colleges ranked Montana State University at number 26 in list of 50 universities it sees as being on the “forefront of technological advancement.” Montana State was lauded for its successful technology transfer program and for its active participation in the incubation of startups in technology and bioscience: “The university’s technological advancements have successfully turned university-level innovation into local companies and jobs.” MSU currently has 255 active licenses on technologies developed by faculty and researchers. Of those, 77 licenses are with Montana companies. MSU holds 68 issued U.S. patents, 15 issued foreign patents, and MSU has 33 pending U.S. patent applications and 20 pending foreign patent applications.
Charles Kankelborg (right) and Sarah Jaeggli were listed as authors on five papers in one recent issue of the journal, Science.

Charles Kankelborg (right) and Sarah Jaeggli were listed as authors on five papers in one recent issue of the journal, Science.


MSU professor and polar ecologist John Priscu, center, inspects samples from subglacial Antarctica in his lab

MSU professor and polar ecologist John Priscu, center, inspects samples from subglacial Antarctica in his lab


Blake Wiedenheft, left, and Ryan Jackson led an MSU team that has just published its findings in the scientific journal, Science.

Blake Wiedenheft, left, and Ryan Jackson led an MSU team that has just published its findings in the scientific journal, Science.


MSU professor Sachiko Tsuruta received the Marcel Grossman Prize.

MSU professor Sachiko Tsuruta received the Marcel Grossman Prize.


Gail Small

Gail Small, a professor of Native American Studies at Montana State University and a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, has been named a 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellow by Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment.

Engagement Return to Top Progress Report 2015

Engagement is the collaboration between MSU and its local, state, national, and global communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity (Carnegie Foundation, 2006). Engagement, a form of scholarship that bridges teaching, research, and service, brings the university’s intellectual resources to bear on societal needs, according to the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities’ Council on Engagement and Outreach (APLU CEO).

Goal: Members of the Montana State University community will be leaders, scholars, and engaged citizens of their local, national, and global communities, working together with community partners to exchange and apply knowledge and resources to improve the human prospect.


Objective E.1:Strategically increase service, outreach, and engagement at MSU.
Objective E.2:MSU graduates will have global and multicultural understanding and experiences.

Objective E.3: MSU students, faculty, and staff will have increased opportunities for leadership development.


  • Continue to develop support structure to connect MSU students, staff, and faculty with engagement information and opportunities
  • Emphasize engagement and outreach in faculty hiring and development; provide training and professional development opportunities for service learning and engagement
  • Build on the success of and partner with Extension, Museum of the Rockies, and other externally-facing MSU programs
  • Expand the involvement with the private sector following the models of OpTeC or the Industrial Associates Program for the Center for Biofilm Engineering for other disciplines
  • Strengthen support for leadership and cultural development experiences

Budget alignment (2014–15 investments unless otherwise noted)

  • $160,000 in student and matching support for 120 student organizations
  • $180,000 base funding successfully garnered in the state legislature to ensure the Local Government Center’s continued education and outreach role in Montana State University
  • $100,000 institutional investment in the Leadership Institute, developing student leadership capacity
  • $80,000 committed, beyond student fee support, to Streamline, Bozeman’s free bus service, to expand routes to better serve the community


  1. Connecting with Backcountry Skiers for Avalanche Safety—Jordy Hendrikx, assistant professor of Earth Sciences and director of the MSU Snow and Avalanche Lab, and Political Science professor Jerry Johnson used a smartphone app and collaborated with backcountry skiers to present a more holistic picture of avalanche accidents, combining decision science and snow science with crowd sourced data collection. Their work highlighted the relationship between backcountry behavior and avalanche probability (using new technology), and made a case that there’s a direct correlation there. This shift in thinking may result in better decision making in the backcountry for improved safety outcomes.
  2. Award-Winning Engagement
  3. Community Connections
    • Montana State University collaborated with the Bozeman Public Schools on the Hyalite-MSU Collaborative Classroom for Teacher Education. The MSU students meet with their professors and then work in teams to teach technology-related lessons to Hyalite Elementary School students. The students also pair up individually with Hyalite’s veteran teachers to gain more experience in the classroom.
    • Montana State annually recognizes students who, in addition to excelling academically, volunteer on campus and in the community. The Torley Award, named for the late MSU alumnus Torlief “Torley” Aasheim, former director of the Montana Cooperative Extension Service and a member of the class of 1937, recognized eight senior students for service in campus, local, and state organizations devoted to music, youth, health, climate, food security, and gender equity.
    • Led by student employees in the Office of Activities and Engagement, 350 volunteers invested more than 1000 hours serving meals at the Community Café, a program of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank that serves a hot meal every night to anyone wishing to come to the Café. Montana State volunteers have served every Wednesday evening, all year long, since the Community Café’s inception.
    • Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship partners with local and regional businesses and non-profits willing to offer students practical business experience in return for research, issue analysis or operational advice.  Additionally, accounting students provided free tax preparation services to over 450 individuals making less than $58,000.  These experiences provide hands-on experiences for students navigating actual work situations and generate savings and innovations for the partner organizations and individuals.  
  4. Communicating Science—A wildlife guide to the microbes of Yellowstone National Park called “Living Colors: Microbes of Yellowstone National Park,” earned a national gold award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA). The book was written by scientists at Montana State University and produced by MSU Extended University in partnership with the Yellowstone Association.
  5. Expanding Global Opportunities Locally
A wildlife guide to the microbes of Yellowstone National Park

A wildlife guide to the microbes of Yellowstone National Park called “Living Colors: Microbes of Yellowstone National Park,” earned a national gold award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).

A person skiing

MSU professors used a smartphone app and collaborated with backcountry skiers to present a more holistic picture of avalanche accidents.

Hyalite-MSU Collaborative Classroom

Montana State University collaborated with the Bozeman Public Schools on the Hyalite-MSU Collaborative Classroom for Teacher Education.

Integration Return to Top Progress Report 2015

Integrating learning, discovery, and engagement is the marquee feature of this MSU strategic plan. Traditionally, land-grant universities have educated students, conducted research and provided outreach to their communities and states. MSU has gone a step further by regularly integrating research and teaching, practicing service-learning, and combining research with outreach. With this plan, MSU now boldly defines the 21st century land-grant university as one where learning, discovery, and engagement merge seamlessly to the benefit of students, faculty, staff, and the wider community.

Goal: By integrating learning, discovery, and engagement, and by working across disciplines, the MSU community will improve the world.


Objective I.1: Increase the integration of learning, discovery, and engagement.
Objective I.2:Increase work across disciplines.


  • Align workload, promotion and tenure processes with strategic goals, including integration activities
  • Strengthen support for student involvement in discovery and engagement through new and existing programs
  • Coordinate and foster community-based research projects, including Community Based Participatory Research, to advance efforts through integration, sharing of lessons, pooling of resources, and joint proposals
  • Highlight and build upon successes in interdisciplinary curriculum and research through interdisciplinary faculty hires, highlighted areas of research strengths, and new interdisciplinary academic programs

Budget alignment (2014–15 investments unless otherwise noted)

  • $75,000 to support start-up packages in the interdisciplinary field of Rural Health
  • $250,000 to support interdisciplinary, multi-campus Materials Science program
  • $75,000 annual institutional match through FY17 for the Blackstone Launchpad, providing support for student entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into successful start-ups
  • $200,000 in FY15 through ongoing Strategic Investment commitments and Performance Funding for additional Undergraduate Scholars Program efforts to connect students and faculty in research


  1. Early Learning/Discovery Integration—Montana State invested a portion of funds from its success under the new statewide Performance Funding system in First Year Research Experience (FYRE). MSU increased the involvement of first year students in the research mission of the university, providing a sense of connection to faculty and peers, and demonstrating the applicability of academic pursuits.
  2. Serving Tribal Communities through Graduate Education—A record number of students graduated this spring from a Montana State University program that prepares American Indian educators for leadership positions in schools with high populations of American Indian students. In partnership with Little Big Horn College, MSU’s Indian Leadership Education and Development program (I LEAD), offers American Indian educators an opportunity to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership and qualify for state licensure as principals and superintendents without having to leave their jobs.
  3. Ag Innovation—Montana State University and wheat growers across the state worked together to protect the state’s billion-dollar wheat industry from the tiny orange blossom wheat midge, capable of inflicting major damage to the crop.Experts with MSU Extension, MSU’s Montana Agricultural Experiment Station and the MSU College of Agriculture have worked with wheat producers to create a state-wide, early-warning detection system to monitor the midge’s spread; are sharing information about strategies to combat the midge through the well-timed application of pesticides and use of biocontrols; and have developed a new wheat variety that is genetically resistant to the midge and which should be available for planting for the 2016 season.
  4. Mental Health Research and Recovery—Exemplifying the integration of discovery and engagement, the new MSU Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery draws on Montana State’s research strength in neuroscience, electrical engineering, computer science, biochemistry, psychology, and nursing, among other disciplines, to address pressing mental health challenges in the state. The Center partners with the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Montana and MSU Extension to meet research and recovery needs throughout the state.
  5. Major Grants for Integrative Problem Solving
    • A $10.7 million, five-year COBRE grant from the National Institutes for Health will allow MSU to establish a Center for Health Equity Research to study a variety of health issues faced by rural Montanans. The new grant will fund four research projects aimed at Native American health issues, then other projects addressing the needs of the general rural population. Projects will be led by faculty in Microbiology and Immunology, Nursing, Education, Health and Human Development, and Psychology.
    • With $4.8 million over four years in federal funding and support from partner organizations, Montana State’s Western Transportation Institute will lead and house the new Rural Safety Center for Excellence, a public-private partnership offering training, technical support, and information to transportation practitioners around the country, with the ultimate goal of helping them reduce serious injuries and fatalities on the roads that they manage.
  6. Integrative, Interdisciplinary, and Innovative—In, “Rhythms of the Universe: Words and Worlds in Motion,” poetry, dance, and physics entwined to communicate science in unexpected ways. The event consisted of a series of spoken-word performances by MSU students, using astrophysics imagery to convey human and social issues, followed by contemporary dance pieces aimed at providing an interpretation for the poems.
Rhythms of the Universe: Words and Worlds in Motion

In, “Rhythms of the Universe: Words and Worlds in Motion,” poetry, dance, and physics entwined to communicate science in unexpected ways.

wheat blossom midge larva causes crop damage

MSU is working with farmers to create an early-warning detection system for the orange wheat blossom midge larva, which can inflict major crop damage.


Behrad Noudoost

MSU professor Behrad Noudoost observes brain waves on monitors in the new multidisciplinary center designed to help improve diagnosis and treatment of mental illness throughout Montana.


Access Return to Top Progress Report 2015

Land-grant universities were established by Congress in 1862 with the explicit intent to educate the sons and daughters of the industrial classes. MSU continues to fulfill that intent, believing that education serves society as a whole through job creation, stronger civic participation, and a reduction in the societal costs borne by a less educated populace. MSU does not turn away qualified Montanans and will continue to provide access to a quality education for all students to improve the state and the wellbeing of its citizens.

Goal: Montana State University is committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring equality of opportunity for all.


Objective A.1:Educate more students while maintaining the quality of programs.
Objective A.2:Diversify the student body.


  • Enhance financial aid offerings and limit cost increases so that MSU remains affordable
  • Address growing student debt issues through financial literacy programs, advising, appropriate course loads, and career coaching
  • Expand course and program offerings, delivery times, and instructional methods to meet the needs of a more diverse student audience, including the expansion of online course offerings
  • Actively recruit from diverse student pools and support students with specific needs once enrolled at MSU, e.g. non-traditional aged students, veterans, and American Indian students

Budget alignment (2014–15 investments unless otherwise noted)

  • $1.1 million in institutional scholarships for Montana students
  • $1 million in institutional support of veteran students through the Yellow Ribbon program
  • $200,000 in Native American student recruitment, retention, and success strategies
  • $120,000 from Performance Funding for additional frequency and capacity in high-demand required courses
  • $200,000 additional investment in summer session to enhance year-round access, with an additional $575,000 committed for FY16
  • $180,000 institutional and grant-funded investment in financial literacy programs to minimize student debt


  1. Transfer Pathways—A new Great Falls College Montana State University program enables students to start basic civil engineering classes in Great Falls for the first year and switch to Montana State University in Bozeman for the last three years. The “one plus three program” enrolled 13 students in Fall 14, with expansion plans beyond civil engineering slated for Fall 15 and 10 to 15 scholarships earmarked for students in this program.
  2. Online Degree Completion—The Liberal Studies Online Degree Completion program has served more than 100 students who for family, financial, or other reasons needed alternative ways to complete their education. Online students have access to journals and databases via the MSU Library as well as many other tools to help them fulfill their degree requirements. Twelve students have successfully completed bachelor degrees through the program to date.
  3. Student Veterans—Montana State University is the first recipient of a new award that honors organizations for their impact on veterans. The “Impact Montana Organizational Award” recognizes the varied services available to veterans to ease transition into college life and support student veterans throughout their careers. Since 2009, Montana State has seen a near doubling of the number of veterans enrolling.
  4. Rewarding Commitment to Diversity—MSU is one of only 83 institutions from across the nation – and the only university in Montana — to receive the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. Among other measures, MSU was selected based on the university’s initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, as well as its work to embrace a broad definition of diversity on campus, including diversity by gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, veteran status, and disability status.
veterans study

Montana State University is the first recipient of a new award, “Impact Montana Organizational Award,” that honors organizations for their impact on veterans.


Students from the American Indian Council

Students study in the American Indian Student Center.


Online students have access to journals and databases via the MSU Library

Online students have access to journals and databases via the MSU Library as well as many other tools to help them fulfill their degree requirements.

Insight into Diversity: Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award 2014

Stewardship Return to Top Progress Report 2015

As a public institution, MSU recognizes and honors its obligation to the many constituents who invest their time, financial resources, energy, and support. MSU deeply values the public trust granted to it and is committed to continued good stewardship of its resources.

Goal: As steward of a land-grant institution, MSU will responsibly manage its human, physical, economic, and environmental resources in an open and sustainable manner.


Objective S.1:Human Resources. Attract, develop, and retain the best faculty and staff to achieve the MSU mission.
Objective S.2:Physical Resources. Enhance aesthetic appeal and functional quality of MSU physical resources to support high quality learning, research, and work environments.
Objective S.3:Economic Resources. Increase and effectively allocate resources in support of the MSU Strategic Plan.
Objective S.4:Environmental Resources. Promote sustainable stewardship and a culture of resource conservation at MSU.


  • Develop our human resources through improved compensation and professional development opportunities
  • Improve administrative processes to make MSU more effective and enhance the work environment
  • Invest in functional and aesthetic improvements to our physical infrastructure
  • Invest in energy saving building upgrades

Budget alignment (2014–15 investments unless otherwise noted)

  • $565,000 for market, merit, equity, and promotion increases for tenured and tenure-track faculty
  • $680,000 in additional salary and research support committed to retain high achieving faculty
  • $450,000 to support professional development and training for faculty and staff
  • $2.1 million committed to information technology improvements
  • $2.5 million investments in technological and functional upgrades to instructional spaces
  • $250,000 in support of the Smart Building Initiative


  1. Equity in the Workplace—Montana State University’s ADVANCE Project TRACS program won the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources 2015 Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award, recognizing its innovation and impact on equitable workplace practices at MSU. The national organization cited the ADVANCE Project TRACS’ role in implementing policies and programs that support faculty including a sick leave donation pool, a dual career community placement liaison, a faculty partner accommodation program and a family care program.
  2. HR Champion—Dennis R. Defa, head of human resources at Montana State University, received the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) 2015 Distinguished Service Award, given to a CUPA-HR member who has provided outstanding service to the association through constituent activities, such as service in governance or leadership roles, or through professional development contributions in support of the association.
  3. Green Buildings

    • A solar wall, 52 geothermal wells, and sustainable building materials are some of many sustainable technologies being used to reduce the new Jabs Hall’s energy use and carbon footprint, earning it LEED Gold certification. The solar wall includes sensors that a research team from MSU’s College of Engineering will use to study how well the technology performs, making the building not only green but an integrative teaching and research laboratory for students across the campus.
    • Montana State University saved $429,000 in the year after it instituted a number of energy-saving performance measures. The utility savings from this first phase of work outperformed expectations, allowing Montana State to proactively control utility costs and build infrastructure that will last for decades. Reductions in utility consumption have reduced the annual carbon footprint of the university by about 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to removing 300 average homes from the grid.
    • Slated to open in Fall 2016, a $35 million 400 bed first-year student residence hall targets LEED Silver designation, incorporating low energy and sustainable materials and systems that embody MSU’s commitment to sustainability. Existing residence halls are also undergoing energy saving systems retrofits to minimize MSU’s carbon footprint.
  4. Bobcats Recycle—A hard-working, passionate group of students and staff made a big push to educate the public about recycling during Bobcat home football games after the City of Bozeman went to single-stream recycling. In Fall 2013, 10,600 pounds of recyclables were collected during MSU’s six home football games. That number was dwarfed by the 19,960 pounds of material recycled in the Fall 2014 season.
Ben Listowich

A mechanical engineering technology student inspects a sensor that will be used to study how a passive solar technology lowers energy costs at Jabs Hall.


Jabs Hall

The new Jabs Hall earned a LEED Gold certification.


MSU’s 400 bed first-year student residence hall

Slated to open in Fall 2016, MSU’s 400 bed first-year student residence hall targets LEED Silver designation, incorporating low energy and sustainable materials and systems.


Selected Plan Metrics Return to Top Progress Report 2015

Learning 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Objective L.2: Increase graduation rates at MSU.


Bachelor Graduation Rate (entering cohort from 6 years prior)







Associate Degrees Awarded (Summer, Fall, Spring)*







Workforce Certificates Awarded (Summer, Fall, Spring)*







FTFTF Retention Rate (entering cohort from prior Fall)






Objective L.3: Increase job placement and further education rates.


Employed in Major Field or Position of Choice (one year post-grad)







Graduate School Enrollment (one year post-grad)







Discovery 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Objective D.3: Expand the scale, breadth and quality of doctoral education.


Graduate student headcount







Doctoral student headcount







Graduate Degrees Awarded (Summer, Fall, Spring)







Doctoral Degrees Awarded (Summer, Fall, Spring)







Access 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15


Montana Undergrad Headcount Enrollment (Fall)







New Transfer Students (Summer and Fall)







Graduate Student Headcount Enrollment (Fall)







Online Credits (AY)







Online Courses (AY)







Gallatin College Headcount Enrollment (Fall)*







Percent Financial Need Met (prior AY)







Total Headcount Enrollment (Fall)






Objective A.2: Diversify the student body.


Native American Student Headcount Enrollment (Fall)







Other Under-Represented Ethnicity and Race Headcount Enrollment (Fall)







International Student Headcount Enrollment (Fall)







Nontraditional Age Student Headcount Enrollment (Fall)







Stewardship 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Objective S.2: Physical Resources. Enhance aesthetic appeal and functional quality of MSU physical resources to support high quality learning, research and work environments.


Percent of classrooms with technology rated tier 3 or above (Recorded periodically)






Percent of classrooms with technology rated tier 2 (Recorded periodically)





Objective S.4: Environmental Resources. Promote sustainable stewardship and a culture of resource conservation at MSU.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Metric Ton CO2 equivalent)







Diverted waste from landfill






* Gallatin College began awarding degrees and certificates in 2010-11
 Expanded list of included instructional spaces in 2013 and 2015


MSU by the Numbers Return to Top Progress Report 2015

Student enrollment continues to grow and freshman academic profile continues to increase.


Fall 2014 Undergraduate Headcount Enrollment


Fall 2014 Graduate Headcount Enrollment




Fall 2014 Full-time Faculty


Fall 2014 Part-time Faculty


Student to Faculty Ratio




2014-15 Certificates and Associate Degrees Awarded


2014-15 Bachelors Degrees Awarded


2014-15 Master Degrees Awarded


2014-15 Doctoral Degrees Awarded



Fall 2014 Enrollment by College









Arts & Architecture








Education & HHD








Graduate School




Letters & Science








Gallatin College




University College













Fall 2014 Enrollment by Gender






Fall 2014 Enrollment by Race and Ethnicity (individuals may be counted more than once if self-identified with more than one race or ethnicity)

American Indian/Alaska Native




Black/African  American




Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander









Fall 2014 Undergraduate Enrollment by Age

Under 24 years old


24 years old and older



First-Time Full-Time Freshmen

High School GPA


ACT Comprehensive Score


SAT Score




Fall 2014 Full-time Employees, including Faculty


Fall 2014 Part-time Employees, including Faculty


View all progress reports