Though Montana State University-Northern students will continue with a modified schedule this summer, the university’s staff will have to return to the same schedule as every government employee, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Northern’s Chancellor Jim Limbaugh said that new Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian told all of the Montana college campuses that they have to follow laws mandating hours for executive branch offices.
“We were told that our being closed violates a law,” Limbaugh said. “Is it unsettling to folks because the original plan was to have a three-day weekend? Yes, and I understand that. But as an institution, we are required to comply with state law.”
Limbaugh emailed the university staff the specific law Wednesday, Montana Code 2-16-117.
“Unless otherwise provided by law, state executive branch offices must be open for the transaction of business continuously from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day except on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Each office must also be open at other times as the accommodation of the public or the proper transaction of business requires.”
Limbaugh said he had been asked how Northern is a part of the executive branch of the Montana government, and had to explain the line from the governor’s office through the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Board of Regents down to each individual institution.
Northern staff have worked four-day weeks, with extended hours Monday through Thursday, for the past few summers to both offer longer weekends and some cost savings on electricity not consumed on the day off.