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Main Hall of University of Montana on a sunny Sept. 29, 2017

The University of Montana President’s Cabinet held a special meeting Friday to present some of the cabinet’s recommendations regarding program prioritization and take public comment on those recommendations. Here are seven things that came out of that meeting:

  • Mario Schulzke, associate vice president of integrated communications and chief marketing officer, recommended cutting his own position and dissolving his office into the president’s office at this morning’s cabinet meeting. Schulzke is responsible for the University’s social media, branding and digital strategy.
    The Office of Integrated Communications oversees University Relations, Trademarks and Licensing, Printing and Graphics Services and the Broadcast Media Center.
    Schulzke said the Broadcast Media Center and Trademarks and Licensing had a tremendous year. However, he also said it is no longer feasible for the University to fund printing and graphics. He recommended UM partner with local businesses to provide these services. University Center director, Adrianne Donald, said she is looking into options for absorbing Campus Quick Copy into the UC’s budget.
    “These are tough choices,” Schulzke said. “That’s what we need right now.”

  • Interim Provost Beverly Edmond will release information regarding her recommendations for 37 programs that will see significant changes. The heads of those programs will be expected to develop post-APASP implementation plans to carry out her recommended changes.
    She also had specific recommendations for the restructuring of the master’s program in public administration and of the college of visual and performing arts.
    “If there are programs in our academic portfolios with few students and few graduates, the question of sustaining these must be addressed,” she said.

  • Rosi Keller, vice president for administration and finance, spoke about ways different programs on campus could be combined to increase efficiency and “work smarter, not harder.” The Associated Students of the University of Montana’s transportation wing could be combined with University parking services, Disability Services for Students could be combined with the employee ADA office, and the Adams Center, UM Productions, the Dennison Theatre and UM’s entertainment management program could all be consolidated, Keller said. This will allow UM to allocate its resources for similar departments more strategically and provide more to students, she said. ASUM President Braden Fitzgerald said conversations about the transportation and entertainment management consolidations have already begun taking place within ASUM.

  • Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Tom Crady took an opportunity to encourage continued funding to his sector, which includes the admissions office, UM’s recruitment efforts and student services like American Indian Services, Career Services, Curry Health Center and Disability Services. He said these offices have been operating with a very small budget and the smallest staff he’s ever worked with.
    Crady also said the budget to the enrollment office has decreased significantly. “We’re just simply behind the curve because of this,” he said. The Kaimin previously reported Montana State University spends nearly twice as much on recruiting new students as UM.
    UM’s tuition waivers program was placed in the bottom category by the APASP committee, but only because the committee felt the unit didn’t provide enough information in its report. The committee recommended it be reviewed again in UM’s next prioritization cycle.

  • The UM data office was placed in the first category as a priority for growth, and Keller emphasized the University’s need to invest in its data collection as a way to make smarter decisions about campus in the future. Throughout the APASP process, committee members pointed out that data was lacking or inconsistent between programs, making it harder to utilize for prioritization.

  • President Sheila Stearns said she and incoming president Seth Bodnar collaborated on a plan to help Bodnar step into the role in the upcoming semester.
    During the first week of January, Bodnar will be shadowing Stearns in her president role. During the second week of January, Bodnar will be president but Stearns will remain as an “auxiliary president” to guide him. After that Stearns will officially leave campus.
    She said Bodnar has used this approach in the past both in business and military positions and she thinks “it’s well worth using.”
    Stearns also said she is planning on releasing an essay early next week, which will include recommendations for prioritization and reflection of her time on campus. She added she will present a “broad strokes picture” of the 2019 budget sometime in those first two weeks January. 

  • Associate Vice President of Research and Creative Scholarship Scott Mills noted UM is routinely ranked among the top five percent of universities worldwide for quality of research, most recently ranking among the top 200 out of 4,000 universities around the world. While research proposals are increasing in number, the staff size is fixed, putting an increasing burden on the department. Graduate enrollment grew by 10 percent this fall, and Mills said research is how UM “attracts world class graduate students.”