Sheila's recommendations (graphic)

The conclusion of last semester was an end to more than just looming anxiety for college students hoping to ace their finals.

Over winter break, the University of Montana not only gained a new president but also continued with the ongoing program prioritization process commonly known as APASP.

APASP, Academic Program and Administrative Services Prioritization, was charged as a committee by former UM President Sheila Stearns last February to identify areas poised for growth and areas that could be cut to fit the budget shortfalls.

In November, the task force, comprised of students, faculty and staff, placed each reviewed program into one of three main categories. These include priority for development and growth, consider for development and/or modification and priority for substantial modification. Those programs that were deemed too new, or didn’t have enough information for judgment, were placed into a fourth category: insufficient evidence.

Based on the task force’s findings, Stearns sent an email to the campus community with her recommendations for UM moving forward.

In the email, Stearns said the purpose of the prioritization process is to “make ongoing strategic decisions” for all times at UM going forward – both good and bad. With the recommendations from APASP, leaders at UM should be able to align its budget while “preserving high-priority programs and reducing expenditures in other programs,” she said.

Stearns said in her recommendations that future decisions must reflect the need to reduce expenses based on more cuts predicted for upcoming years. In addition to insisting on the continual work of the task force to develop a plan to evaluate programs over time, some of the recommendations could become concrete very soon. 

The following are recommendations made by Stearns, condensed for clarity:

Recommendation 8: Invest in graduate school stipends and waivers, as well as recruitment for international students.

Recommendation 11: Consider the restructuring of graduate programs to be more interdisciplinary, which could include suspension or discontinuation.

Recommendation 20: Relocate the Master of Public Administration and Nonprofit Administration certificate and minor under the Baucus Policy Institute at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law.

Recommendation 21: Merge the School of Art and the School of Media Arts within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Recommendation 23: Consider restructuring, which could include suspension, discontinuation, consolidation and reduction, of academic programs from Missoula College and UM which fall into the priority for substantial modification category.

Recommendation 32: Explore the relationship between ASUM transportation and University parking services.

Recommendation 37: Determine the viability of Printing and Graphics Services while recognizing both its deficit and the needs of both its employees and the campus.

These recommendations are currently being reviewed by UM President Seth Bodnar, who will set the tone for prioritization moving forward.

In a campus-wide email, Bodnar said he will be working to integrate the findings of the APASP task force into strategic planning considerations, calling it a “critical priority.”