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University of Montana

The University of Montana campus.

The Montana Board of Regents granted tenure to 20 University of Montana faculty members Wednesday.

The Board should have granted these professors tenure — a guaranteed annual contract renewal, much sought-after by academics — at its regularly-scheduled meeting in Butte last month. But "overwhelmed" staff in the UM Provost's Office forgot to submit the awards for inclusion on the agenda, prompting confusion about whether the faculty members were eligible for tenure-related benefits.

Last month, University Faculty Association President Megan Stark told UM's Faculty Senate the Board of Regents would likely have to wait until their regularly-scheduled November meeting to approve the awards.

But Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian and the regents were able to schedule a conference call on the matter Wednesday morning. In less than 10 minutes, the regents present — Casey Lozar, Joyce Dombrouski, Brianne Rogers, John Miller and Paul Tuss — voted to award the tenure. The total number of affected faculty was previously given as 19, but the regents' agenda listed 20 professors.

"I really appreciate taking a little bit of time to do this and helping us catch up on an oversight that was having an impact on some of our faculty," UM Provost Jon Harbor told the group. He earlier described the staff as "overwhelmed," and his office previously pledged to take steps to avoid this type of oversight in the future.

The regents will next meet Nov. 21-22 in Bozeman.

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