By Mike Rao
The campus of Montana State University-Northern is full of activity. We enjoyed a very pleasant and productive visit by Dr. Terry Roark, our new interim president from Bozeman. Dr. Roark is a very capable and friendly leader, who will serve Montana State well.
Losing President Malone is something that I have taken harder than I imagined. I realize that Dr. Roark is the right person to follow in his footsteps for an interim period. Meanwhile, the search for a permanent president for MSU has just begun, involving a consultant from Washington, D.C., who will help the search committee complete a successful search. It is expected that the search will produce a president as early as mid-year of 2000.
An architect who worked with faculty and members of the foundation staff has drafted conceptual plans for MSUN's new building, the Applied Technology Center. This new building promises to help MSUN accommodate the expanding technology-based needs of growing mechanical and engineering and technology programs. The facility will also help to strengthen the partnerships with industries that hire our graduates and work with our faculty to train employees. It will also help to accommodate the incubation of technology-based businesses that may bring some new jobs to Montana.
Fund raising at MSUN has moved to a new level. In addition to acquiring its largest cash gift from a living donor, the MSUN Foundation is seeing its best year in fund raising. The new fundraising programs are designed to expand scholarships and provide "seed-funds" to attract larger grant dollars.
We greatly appreciate the support of the Hi-Line and North Central Montana communities who have been so generous. I am also grateful to the MSUN Foundation for its focused efforts to attract needed financial support for MSUN programs and scholarships.
MSUN now houses an office of the Native American Small Business Development Center Initiative. The project is designed to provide technical assistance particularly to Native Americans who have or who are starting small businesses. MSUN serves a significant Indian student population and is ideally located between four major reservations. This office will complement nicely MSUN's Montana Cooperative Development Center, its Internet Business Incubation Center, and other economic development-related services sponsored by the campus.
Finally, as we continue to face the challenge of a declining population base and enrollments, there are a number of academic programs that are being planned for submission to the Board for its consideration. Some of these include bachelor's degrees in industrial technology teaching, computer engineering, psychology, and a master's degree in adult learning and training. We have also implemented an honors course sequence. We know that new programs will be an important factor as we attempt to more actively capture the interest of additional students.
As you can imagine, life is certainly far from perfect at MSUN. The campus has its share of issues and problems, but there are many positive projects and activities that I believe will serve the campus well in the long term. It continues to be an honor to serve as your university campus's chancellor. I hope these periodic updates are informative and useful.