By Tristan 

Regents to ask campuses to set funding priorities


BOZEMAN (AP) — Montana's Board of Regents plans to ask each campus in the state's university system to set funding priorities and suggest what they can do without to help the system save money, higher education leaders said.

"Prioritization, we're very committed to," Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns said Thursday during a listening session with Montana State University professors and others. "The process will take a couple years. Every program will have to justify itself."

Regent Stephen Barrett, of Bozeman, said he sometimes looks at an educational program that has only two or three graduates in five years and wonders why it exists. But he also stressed that setting priorities will depend on what's essential, not just numbers, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Friday.

MSU professors complained about low salaries, and some wondered why the regents don't look at the state's financially struggling campuses and close one.

John Neumeier, MSU Faculty Senate leader, said some campuses have low enrollment and "are a drain on the system."

Faculty Senate Chairman Marvin Lansverk said MSU has great ambitions, but it's hard to hire great faculty when salaries and benefits are low and the university is relying more and more heavily on part-time adjunct professors.

Stearns has announced plans to retire next spring after nine years of leading the 47,000-student university system.


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