University of Montana UM campus

During a three-hour voting session Monday, a University of Montana panel closed in on its mission of categorizing every department and program at the school as part of budget prioritization, leaving only 90 sections left to be classified.

The Academic Program and Administrative Services Prioritization task force will finish up categorizing programs this week, after being enlisted earlier in the year to help the school downsize a budget that’s grown out of line with falling enrollment.

The panel can place programs into four potential categories: priority for development and growth, consider for development and or modification, priority for substantial modification, or insufficient evidence.

Heads of each program will be able to respond after the task force completes its categorization process. Then a final report will be sent to President Sheila Stearns.

Another 10 academic programs were put in the lowest category Monday, which recommends potential consolidation or discontinuance. Those included undergraduate programs in applied science and global humanities and religions, as well as a two-year program in hospitality management and certificates in bioethics, entrepreneurship, HVAC technician, recreational power equipment and recycling technology, and the minor in library media services. Bitterroot College also found itself in the bottom tier.

Monday’s meeting also had the task force begin categorizing programs of the administration, with several including the accounting department and financial aid tuition waivers being put in the category for possible downsizing.

The athletic department’s event management division was placed in the lowest category for “substantial modification.”

Chase Greenfield, one of the students on the task force, said he was irritated that every one of the athletic department's programs submitted nearly identical information during the report preparing process, and said all of them should be put in the bottom tier.

“This doesn’t mean we’re going to cut all of athletics, but it does mean this is where we’re going to put them because they didn’t follow our process,” he said.

Other panelists said it will be up to the athletics department to provide answers during the response period after the task force submits its full recommendations list later this week. Other individual athletics programs will be voted on during the Tuesday and Wednesday meetings.

Four academic programs — undergraduate mathematics and the graduate programs for cellular, molecular, and microbial biology as well as environmental studies and the environmental science journalism program — were voted into the top category, recommending them as good candidates for further investment and growth potential.

UM’s diversity advisory council was also put into that grouping.

Fewer than 10 academic programs remain to be categorized, with the task force's Tuesday and Wednesday meetings — each scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. in Missoula College Room 340 — to consist mainly of ranking the remainder of the administration and athletic programs.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for The Missoulian.