2-year colleges must keep focus on adults, branding, regents told

2012-11-16T06:15:00Z 2014-10-03T14:28:23Z 2-year colleges must keep focus on adults, branding, regents toldBy MARTIN KIDSTON of the Missoulian missoulian.com
November 16, 2012 6:15 am  • 

Montana’s two-year colleges must continue working to attract adult students while branding the schools to reflect their affiliation with the Montana University System, the Board of Regents was told Thursday.

Less than a day after Missoula College of the University of Montana accepted its new name and mission, regents reviewed their efforts to bring adults, veterans and high school graduates into the state’s postsecondary system.

“One of our best opportunities to do that will be through the kind of programs found at our two-year campuses,” said John Cech, deputy commissioner for two-year and community college education with the Montana University System. “For a decade now, the board has been emphasizing two-year education and putting a spotlight on it.”

Following the advice of consultants, Cech said the state will continue working to set new standards for its two-year schools, and creating a formula allowing them to be compared by regents on a side-by-side basis.

He said the schools are marching forward on the same path, but may not be advancing at the same rate. The work has involved a major rebranding effort, doing away with the term “college of technology” and replacing it with names to show the place, affiliation and mission of each school.

“We’re moving at different places along the path,” said Cech. “We’re almost finished with some of these coming-out events in terms of changing our names and signaling to our communities that there will be an expansion in the mission of our campuses.”

***

Missoula College accepted its new name at an unveiling ceremony Wednesday night. Rolf Groseth, chancellor at City College at Montana State University-Billings, said his school did the same back in October.

With the name change and rebranding effort complete, Groseth said, City College will look to accomplish its new list of initiatives, such as creating new pathways for students to earn their credentials or integrating more fully with industry.

“It’s not quite like an internship, but rather, it’s more of a European model, working with industry to produce workers for them,” said Groseth. “We and Great Falls College are working with industries in our communities, like welding and fitting, to achieve some of those areas.”

Groseth said City College also is looking to make education more accessible to adult students by offering general education classes at more convenient hours.

Efforts to improve outreach to adults took center stage as regents discussed the mission of the state’s two-year colleges.

Bob Hietala, dean of Gallatin College, said nearly 45 percent of the enrollment in Montana’s two-year schools are nontraditional students.

“We’re starting to lag behind our peers when you compare the number of adults we serve in the system per 1,000 adults,” Hietala said. “Montana ranks 11th, serving 7.7 adults per 1,000 adults in the state.”

The average in the 14-state region surrounding Montana is 21.7 adult students per 1,000 adults. New Mexico has the highest rate of 39.6. The state could boost that number by offering more credits for prior learning or experience gained from life, the regents were told.

Higher Education Commissioner Clayton Christian said the system should do more to reach out to military veterans as well. Any solutions presented by regents, he said, should consider such action.

“I think this is an area we can really reach out to men and women who served this country and encourage them to go back to school and help them along the way and give them credit for their experience,” Christian said. “It’s the right thing to do, and it could really help some students.”

***

UM President Royce Engstrom also addressed regents regarding the state’s need to win $47 million in funding to build Missoula College on the South Campus.

As he did with a group of concerned residents the night before, he walked regents through the planning process, and how the state came to prefer the South Campus as its preferred building site.

Many regents weren’t appointed in 2007 when the plan was approved, and when the Legislature appropriated $500,000 to design the South Campus Master Plan.

“This has been a project that’s been in the works for several years, and at least in a formal sense, for 10 years,” he said. “It’s the highest-priority new construction item you have for this legislative session.”

Engstrom said the plan looks to start with Missoula College, though the overall concept isn’t limited to the placement of a single building.

Rather, he said, the plan refers to the long-term growth of UM. Unlike other locations suggested in past plans, the South Campus is capable of accommodating the university’s list of needs.

“We do need a place to think in a deliberate, well-coordinated way about the future growth of the university,” he said. “We own the land outright and have been actively developing that site for many years. It’s conducive to the movement of students and staff between locations.”

Christian reminded the regents that the South Campus vetting process has already played out and was approved in 2007.

“UM does not need further board approval to move forward,” he said. “It has received what approval it needs. It will continue to move forward unless this board considers otherwise.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, martin.kidston@missoulian.com or @martinkidston.

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(3) Comments

  1. MontanaNative1ed7
    Report Abuse
    MontanaNative1ed7 - November 15, 2012 10:41 pm
    Why is it that the new plan for the Missoula College on the golf course is being pushed through? The plan for the Fort Missoula took years to develop. What will Engstrom gain by ignoring the history of the planning process. Why must he lead by changing the facts to suit his mood?

  2. Dick the Brick
    Report Abuse
    Dick the Brick - November 15, 2012 9:34 pm
    I'd like to hear a cogent and credible reply from the University to the above argument, which on its face seems entirely credible, serious, and factual.
  3. TwiceGriz
    Report Abuse
    TwiceGriz - November 15, 2012 8:29 pm
    In the last eleven months the "process" for the South Campus according to President Engstrom has gone from 18 months (this summer) to 5 years (just a week or two ago) and now to ten years (today at the Board of Regents meeting). The insinuation is that there was a long PUBLIC process. Well it was just 2005 when President Dennison wanted to build Alumni Retirement Housing on the golf course so you can do that math (hint: not 10 years). And it was 2005 when a report was published favoring the West Campus for COT expansion and consolidation.

    Although I have no doubt that the U administration (both present and prior) has wanted to get rid of the open space of the South Campus for at least ten years, the FACT is that whatever process was 10 years long and chose the south campus for a Missoula College buildings did NOT include the public. Or it certifiably rejected public input. The PROCESS that WAS open to the PUBLIC (residents and taxpayers) was a mere 7 to 8 months long. That truly PUBLIC process started in "late 2006" (December in fact) with the formation of the South Campus Master Plan Committee. Their findings were published in July of 2007. Some additions were published later in 2007. You can verify all of this by reading the South Campus Master Plan. And while you are reading it make a note that the only mention there of the COT is a "Park and Ride" reference which indicates an assumption of COT somewhere other than the South Campus. This very brief PUBLIC process never considered a COT at the South Campus.

    On the other hand, the only truly PUBLIC process that has ever considered site locations for a new and expanded COT (now Missoula College) began back in 1996 with a published report in 2005. That truly public process rejected the University Golf Course location (along with 5 other possible sites) and chose the West Campus by the Fort for consolidation and expansion of the then-COT. That nine year process included 76 people and 12 committees.

    Last night President Engstrom stated that hydrogen is no longer a viable energy alternative and that is why the West Campus site was rejected. He needs to read the 2005 Plan for the COT. There was more in that study than just hydrogen. There were considerations for consolidating and expanding ALL existing COT programs in addition to the hydrogen program we lost. The county commissioners actually requested that the COT be located west of Fort Missoula. U.S. Congressmen agreed and so did everyone else. Although the plug was pulled on the entire plan for unknown reasons, the public process which arrived at the chosen site of the West Campus is still valid today. IT IS THE VERY REASON THE UNIVERSITY IS GETTING "PUSH BACK" FROM THE COMMUNITY ON LOCATION FOR THE MISSOULA COLLEGE. It could be the reason the state legislature has denied funding for building on the south campus THREE (not two) times. THE COMMUNITY WANTS MISSOULA COLLEGE ON ITS WEST CAMPUS, where all one and two year students can get everything they need in one location; a priority in 2005 and a priority today. The West Campus is close to Community Medical Center and program expansion in Health services curriculum was a priority in 2005 and it is a priority today. What is wrong with listening to the conclusion arrived at by the public in a 9 year process for choosing a site location for the COT (now Missoula College)?

    Why are we even considering three different campuses for Missoula College students? Why is it a good idea to make college students travel between three or four campuses? Wouldn't all of Missoula be better off without 2500 Missoula College students running between four campuses who knows how many times a day? Even if they are taking a bus and not driving a car? This is a plan only an oil company could come up with.

    During testimony today a representative from the Missoula Economic Partnership stressed the urgency of building a new Missoula College facility. Everyone agrees there is an urgency and that Missoula needs new Missoula College facilities sooner rather than later. It was true in 2005 and it is more true today. If the university truly wants a new facility as soon as possible they need to listen to the public and read the findings in the 2005 report. Insisting on a south campus location is OBSTRUCTING the progress for the Missoula College. A West Campus location, which has already been publicly vetted at length will pass in the legislature with virtually NO opposition. The university's "my way or the highway" attitude only serves to spend taxpayer money and to line the coffers of the planners who will continue to make money on endless plan after endless plan until they get it right. They got it right in 2005. The Missoula College needs to be consolidated and expanded at its West Campus.

    The University owns 50 plus acres on its West Campus where it already teaches Missoula College classes on 13 acres. 37 additional acres are located there with NOTHING ON THEM. Only a tiny sliver of that 50 acres is in flood plane (less than one acre) and none of it is in the Fort Missoula Historic Overlay District according to the University's 2004 Master Plan for the Fort properties. The university owns additional acreages close to the West Campus and near the Fort that are totally undeveloped.

    Why would we destroy a mufti-million dollar, irreplaceable developed asset that makes money every year and generates jobs and revenue for the entire Missoula community and provides developed, multipurpose green space in the urban core when we have a COMMUNITY PREFERRED vacant site right next to existing programs? Has anyone heard a really viable answer to that question yet?
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