By Tim Leeds
Dr. Geoffrey Gamble, who will take over as president of Montana State University-Bozeman in December, and his wife visited Montana State University-Northern yesterday, his first stop in visiting all campuses of MSU.
"Patricia and I are delighted to join the MSU family," he said in a public meeting at Donaldson Commons.
Gamble said he will be going out to visit all of the campuses as much as possible, to learn about the issues he will need to deal with.
"Given my role, people will listen to me," he said. "Before I speak, I need to listen."
He said his role with MSU-Northern is to work with Dr. Alex Capdeville, the new chancellor of the university, to make it viable and make it work. He said MSU-Northern is already positioned to be an effective part of MSU.
Gamble said MSU has to be positioned to address the spectrum of educational needs, from PhDs to just chunks of knowledge. He said MSU-Northern, with its programs ranging from certificates to master's degrees, is already in that position.
He said a major part of his job will be to define what MSU is and what role the different campuses play in it. He said each campus has strengths, and should concentrate on those strengths. Gamble said there should not be excessive duplication of programs on the campuses, although some duplication is good and even necessary for each campus to provide a full education.
Gamble said promoting the strengths of each campus will attract students to the campuses. He said, for example, MSU-Northern's internationally recognized diesel technology program should be, and can be, attracting students from around the world.
Gamble said recruiting should not be limited to the areas the campuses are on. He said he thinks it would be a mistake to consider the Canadian and the North Dakotan borders limits to MSU-Northern's recruitment areas.
MSU-Northern plays an important role being the only university in such a large geographic area, he said. He asked what the university's relationship with the community is, then said a good relationship and partnerships is crucial to success. He said university's must form partnerships within the university and the university system as well as with private and public sectors in order to succeed.
Gamble said they must be able to demonstrate the value of the investment in the university system to the legislature in order to justify requests for revenue. He said the university must be accountable in order to receive funding.
"If taxpayers in the state can't see value in the institution," he said, "There's going to be a problem."
Gamble said they must also run their programs affordably. He said the state governments are working on limited funding, and can't provide all the funds the universities would like to receive.
Gamble said he wants to justify funding MSU's programs, and will seek additional funding from the state and from other sources.
"I think it's a function of leadership, incumbent upon leadership, to make it work," he said. "That's the approach I will take as I walk through the door."
Gamble said the timing of his starting as president is no accident. He said he wants to start becoming familiar with the issues before the 2001 legislature begins in January.
Gamble comes to MSU from the University of Vermont, where he is currently provost and senior vice president. He was at the University of Washington for 22 years before that, ending as vice provost for academic affairs, supervising personnel, planning and program implementation and fiscal matters.