HELENA – Members of the Board of Regents said Thursday they want plenty of faculty involvement in developing performance standards by which the university system will be evaluated to determine if it gets part of its proposed budget increase in fiscal 2015.

The standards could include such measurements as college completion rates.

Gov. Steve Bullock, Higher Education Commissioner Clayton Christian and the chairman of the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Education signed a document agreeing that the university system will establish performance measures in the fiscal year that begins July 1 to take effect the following year.

Half of the system’s “present law adjustment” budget increase in 2015, estimated by legislators last month at $7.5 million, will depend on the meeting the standards.

Bullock and Christian also have signed an agreement that the regents will freeze tuition for Montana students for the next two years, if the Legislature provides a certain level of funding increase in the university system’s budget, plus enough money to cover pay raises for employees.

Christian said the request for accountability is a good one.

“It’s not a party issue,” Christian said. “I’ve heard about accountability from both sides of the aisle and the governor’s office the past eight years (under former Gov. Brian Schweitzer) and this governor (Bullock).”

Sens. Taylor Brown, R-Huntley, and Llew Jones, R-Conrad, were leaders of the legislative effort, the commissioner said.

Tyler Trevor, associate commissioner for planning and analysis, said the commissioner’s office and a consulting firm will hold initial conversations at Montana State University and the University of Montana in April on developing performance funding standards.

“We will use nationally recognized best practices,” he said. “There is a wealth of information out there. This process has to be inclusive.”

Regent Todd Buchanan of Billings called it an exciting development and one he’s been pushing for.

“I don’t consider it a penalty approach,” he said. “It’s an incentivizing approach.”

Jeff Renz, chief of the Montana University System’s faculty association and a UM law professor, told the regents that faculty members aren’t opposed to the idea.

However, he said the university system “is in a negative position as for human resources.” Faculty pay at UM and MSU is the lowest in the country and lower than it is in Puerto Rico, he said.

At MSU, which graduates engineers and architects, the math department has a faculty vacancy rate of 25 percent to 30 percent. Likewise, the history department at UM has a 25 percent faculty vacancy rate. The UM Law School can’t fill vacancies in fields such as tax law.

“Until we can fill these slots, we’ll have a difficulty meeting performance standards,” Renz said.

In response, Board Chair Angela McLean of Anaconda said, “I don’t think it can be understated or underscored how much this board ranks recruitment and retention.”

She said she believes the regents will be able to do something across the system to address the pay issue.

McLean said none of the performance standards will succeed without buy-in from the faculties and staff on campuses.

UM President Royce Engstrom said on behalf of UM-affiliated campuses, “we want to be enthusiastic participants in this discussion. It is clearly a national trend.”

MSU President Waded Cruzado said the same holds true for MSU campuses.

“All of our campuses are very energized,” she said.

Regent Pat Williams of Missoula agreed with McLean about the importance of “faculty engagement” in what he called a promising effort.

“But I would remind the board, if we want the faculty onboard in the landing, we’ve got to have them onboard at the takeoff. They need to guide the flight.”

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or by email at chuck.johnson@lee.net.

(9) comments

Cameo01
Cameo01

But who writes performance standards for the Regents?

rogier van der weyden
rogier van der weyden

Amazing. I absolutely agree with everyone who has posted so far. I might also call attention to the epidemic of internal hiring that has taken place at UM recently, and looks to be continuing.

maplemale
maplemale

Honor student, 3.65 GPA. Dropped out after 6 semesters. I don't know statistically why the school has one of the worst dropout rates in the country (New York times 9/9/2009 - less than 41% grad rate). But I know why I dropped out...


As a 23 yr old student with 4 years of prior IT Consulting experience, I found the quality of education from both the Business School and the Computer Science School to be a joke. Every semester I expected my core classes to hold more value and be more applicable to real world experience while understanding that especially in the CS area, a 4 year degree is going to give you more theory than practical knowledge. But, every semester I was more disappointed and frustrated with the lack of expertise and professionalism coming out of the Business school and especially the CS school. I was also frustrated with the math school and especially the curriculums which were absolutely horrid.


Most of the staff especially in the CS dept. are just awful. If most of them had to get a real job, would be working as CSRs over at DIRECTV. In fact, I know one of them who is and I’m not surprised that was the only job the individual could get. With only 4 years of real world experience, I found myself helping teach several of the IS classes which I wasn't allowed to test out of. I found pretty much every teacher, especially in the lower CS classes to be a completely arrogant know-nothing worthless person with a complete lack of professionalism and no teaching ability. Starting into the 300 level IS and CS classes, I found much of the same from professors who had a lot of tenure, treated everyone like garbage and barely knew their own subject matter which was also completely out of date and a total joke. The business school was hit and miss and completely depended on the teacher. Had a 200 level accounting class taught by a prior kindergarten teacher who was awful and almost failed the entire class. Business Law on the other hand, taught by Mort someone was really good. Everything coming out of the Econ school was great. Finance was hit and miss but CS was 100% awful no matter what and 100% of that was the staff’s fault.


If I had to do it over again, I would have gone to Mt. State or gone out of state. Maybe you just get what you pay for, but here I am 6 years later, making well over 6 figures as an IT professional and I attribute none of that to the UofM since I never finished my degree due to their complete incompetence. Pretty much turned me off to any chance of me returning to school EVER. I feel like someone who was raped and now has relationship issues with other schools which makes me sad, because I’d really like to attain a degree. But, I’m not sure I have it in me anymore.

maplemale
maplemale

Just want to clarify something...

There is nothing wrong with being a CSR at DTV. in fact, they get paid quite well for being an entry level job, the company treats them well and it's really a good place to work and a good stepping stone into other jobs. My point was more that the UofM should be hiring much more qualified people to teach.

ewodarz
ewodarz

Wow. You say that.
* UM faculty is incompetent and arrogant
* Subject matter was trivial and out of date
* You went on to be spectacularly successful

Your use of the word arrogant makes me makes me wonder if you are familiar with the term hypocrite.
Why would you go to school at all when you look down with contempt at the faculty of UM and are fabulously successful without a degree?
How exactly did UM hold you back? Were you expecting a 7 figure salary and a nobel prize?

rogier van der weyden
rogier van der weyden

In maplemale's defense, he [?] specifically calls out UM's business school and computer science department, neither of which are noted for standards or quality. The problem with pre-professional programs generally [and not just those at UM] is that the skill sets they teach are outdated as soon as technology advances.

BobbyLee
BobbyLee

The biggest hindrance to anyone applying for positions at the UM - staff, faculty, etc. - is the UM's own HR department. Even department heads at the university have complained of it, frequently. The head of UMHR initially failed the selection process of the hiring panel, but was then summarily 'placed' in the position by Engstrom. Soon after, HR initiated a computerized hiring system that immediately created more work for department heads and made many highly qualified prospective applicants cringe, because no longer where paper applications accepted. Meaning that a computer was now picking out selective keywords to determine a person's eligibility for employment, and a well-presented resume was now worthless. Those keywords can be simply copy and pasted from the job advertisement, which is why some department heads work has increased; they get inundated with unqualified applicants. HR is also one of those great 'diverse' university departments where, out of scores of administrators, there are but two men.

Put simply; if department heads cannot figure out who would benefit their department then they should not be head of department. Unless, of course, the purpose of HR is not to hire the most qualified, but only those who 'fit in,' or are in the university 'club.' Basically if you apply for a job a the university, it's a good idea to have a friend already there. Which is why the place is so bleeding dysfunctional, and full of defensive institutional liars like HR, and all protected by the resident corporate liar Lucy France. It's her job, after all, to protect the university, so the lies compound - much the same as we have just witnessed from the City.

Such a poor reputation often takes a while to meld. But once it's taken hold, word soon gets around. It would seem like the word has finally got around. The sad fact, of course, is that, once around, it takes insurmountably more time to rescind.

The university could be brilliant. Its location is splendid. But only when its house is cleaned will it ever reach its full potential. Until then, mediocrity, defensiveness and spin are the order of the day. And anyone worth their salt can see through spin.

walter12
walter12

Make obtaining the degree difficult, make it worth something in the outside world, it sure cost enough already.

My Voice
My Voice

UM Law School had competitve applicants for its tax law professor position. And, I believe that someone was hired for this position. Also, the visiting professor who taught Federal Tax at the law school this past fall semester is awesome.

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