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MSU president assures Northern of support

 

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The president of Montana State University told people at a hearing at MSU-Northern Wednesday that she considers herself a leader of all parts of the university system, not just the main Bozeman campus.

Several people Wednesday expressed concern that programs at Havre's university might be duplicated at other campuses or that state support for the campus does not exist.

"When I came here in this very same room, I said the entire state is our campus, and I think I have shown that and that that commitment and that passion has shown through," Waded Cruzado said during the public forum.

Four members of the state Board of Regents, along with Cruzado and Higher Education Commissioner Sheila Stearns held the listening session.

Several people in the audience said they oppose duplication of programs Northern has developed, including plumbing, electrical and carpentry technology degrees and related programs tied in to the state apprenticeship program in those fields. They also said they are concerned about lack of Expansion on the campus and in successful programs.

Havre-area farmer Mark Peterson asked MSU to support br inging the funding for research, the state extension offices and fire training services back in line with the rest of the university system.

One of the first places cut when the university system needs to save money i s research, such as at the Northern Agricultural Research Center south of Havre, and the MSU Ex t ens i on Agency, Peterson said. Cuts in the last two years are crippling the programs, he said.

"We have taken a major, major cut." Peterson said. "At the start of the next (legislative) session we will be down 15 percent at the get-go." He said the work at the research centers and the extension offices — a virtual university, he said — is crucial for Montana. The research done and help from the extension benefits agriculture producers and the entire state. The research does more than that, he added.

"Without research … we wouldn't have anything to teach our kids," Peterson said.

Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, said it has seemed like a constant battle to keep Northern operating.

"Every time we try to get a leg up, somebody comes along and tries to cut our legs back down to the knees again. It's kind of frustrating," she said.

"Sometimes I feel we don't have full support for what were doing up here.

"I hope that I'm wrong," she added.

Cruzado said she fully supports every part of the MSU system. When she came to Northern in February, one month after she started at MSU, she told the audience in Havre her position.

"When I accepted the invitation to lead Montana State University, it was with the clear understanding that I was going to serve one university that has four campuses, seven ag centers and extension offices that serve each of our 56 counties … ," she said.

"I have followed through in every symbolic way and every tangible manner, she added.

She said one example is the meetings of the President's Advisory Council and the Council of Elders comprising representatives of all of the Indian tribes in Montana.

The records of past meetings show that, in the past, all that was discussed was the programs, students and faculty at Bozeman. Since she took office, Cruzado said she has invited representat ives f rom the Billings, Great Falls and Havre campuses to speak as well.

It was interesting to see the response to those campuses' presentations, particularly from Northern, she added.

She said that her support for all parts of the system will continue.

"We are going to assist each of our campuses, and, Mark, we're going to assist all of our agencies," she said.

 
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