Despite some university leaders — including from Havre’s university — saying their documents are ready to go, the Montana Board of Regents have delayed taking action on the universities’ mission and vision statements set to be voted on during this weeks Board of Regents meeting in Havre.
“We are not sure we have allowed sufficient time for … the campuses to have the discussions and for feedback,” Sylvia Moore, deputy commissioner of higher education, said during the Regents meeting Thursday.
The Board of Regents had requested that all campuses write mission and vision statements similar to statements previously approved for Montana State University in Bozeman and the University of Montana in Missoula.
Moore said when UM and MSU submitted their proposed statements in September, they were sent back for revision as well.
But Montana State University- Northern Chancellor Frank Trocki said the Northern statement — a 17-page document including appendices describing the university, its role, characteristics and statewide contributions, intended to guide the system and the university and building on strengths and leadership roles Northern provides — is ready.
“I thought ours was complete,” Trocki said.
If there were concerns about the plan, Trocki said, he thought they would have been forwarded to the university.
As no issues or concerns were raised, he thought it was done.
“The assumption is, we did what we were asked to do, we filled in the blanks, we did talk, we communicated amongst ourselves, and we thought we put together a good piece of information.” He said if anything needs to be changed, the people with concerns should let Northern know, but if the regents were satisfied with the document Northern is ready to go ahead with it.
Chancellor Richard Storey of University of Montana-Western said much the same as Trocki.
“I really don’t have anything to add to what Chancellor Trocki said,” Storey said.
Western’s staff had worked together to write their statement, he said.
“We thought it was pretty well done,” Storey said.
Chancellor Bill Sexton of Montana State University- Billings said he believes the documents should be compared with each other before finalized.
“It’s right to do these independently, but they really will take on their full meaning when they are looked at and discussed in relationship with each other across the whole Montana University System,” he said.
Sexton said one issue to deal with through the mission and vision statements is the increasingly difficult financial situations facing the Montana University System.
“We are going to be under increasing and more and more severe budgetary constraints,” he said. “What are the tools we are actually going to have in the toolbox to deal with that?” He said the budget situation could lead to shifts on campuses, with some campuses placing a higher priority on some areas of program development than others. The extension of time to work on the statements would allow the different campuses to discuss that issue, he said.
“One of the challenges is trying to fold that in to how a particular campus sees their future, what it is they’re seeing changing in the community or the region they serve; what’s driving that, is it short-term or long-term,” he said.
Sexton said that as shifts take place the system will need to keep them aligned with each other.
“So that we can maximize the strengths of different campuses but still allow and nurture the strengths of different campuses that make them unique and allow them to develop, because we don’t want to lose that uniqueness,” he said.
Other actions by the Regents Thursday included tabling until today a discussion about whether to change administration of technical programs in Bozeman from the Montana State University-Great Falls College of Technology to Montana State University.
The Academic and Student Affairs Committee approved sending to the full Board proposals to allow Northern, MSUGreat Falls COT, MSU-Billings College of Technology and Montana Tech Col lege of Technology certificate and associate of applied science programs in sustainable energy technician. The proposal is part of the work of the campuses partnered in the wind energy technology consortium The Montana Wind Project.