Board of Regents Meeting

Dillon, MT

March 25-26, 2004

 

Proposal and motion to establish an Academic/Student Affairs Committee.

 

As the Regents proceed to encourage and support the use of University resources to benefit Montana’s economic development, we should maintain an appropriate focus on our Board’s responsibility for reviewing, setting and approving institutional priorities, especially in the area of academic and student affairs.  Our Board’s ability to determine academic priorities and ensuring student success is at the heart of ensuring an appropriate use of scarce resources.  Cost control in Higher Education, according to AGB), has been hampered by the failure of governing boards to focus on academic programs.  The Association of Governing Boards has identified a number of realities:

  • Academic programs are the heart of our institutions and constitute the real cost drivers for the entire enterprise.
  • Academic programs have been permitted to grow (sometimes calcify) without careful analysis of their relative worth.
  • Most institutions strive to be all things to all people in their quest for students, reputation, and support.  They do not focus resources on their mission and on programs they can sustain with distinction.
  • Ensuring high quality in many academic programs now requires large amounts of money.  Thus, most institutions are overprogrammed for their available resources.
  • Traditional resource-management approaches, such as across-the-board cuts, tend to result in mediocrity for all programs.
  • Reallocating existing resources from weakest to strongest programs is the most likely source of funds.
  • Reallocation cannot be appropriately accomplished without setting rigorous, effective, and academically responsible priorities.

 

To properly assess all these potential issues, and to most effectively perform our Board’s oversight responsibility, I propose that we reestablish the Academic and Student Affairs Committee as a standing committee.

 

Almost two years ago, our Board decided to abolish standing committees, and hear all proposals as a board.  Prior to this action, proposals went first to the various standing committees, and then these proposals had to be restated and reargued when they came to the full board.  The decision to abolish standing committees, which had merit, was that significant proposals should be heard by the full board and that it would be most efficient if they were presented just once.

 

Since then, our board agenda has become very crowded and often the time we spend in formal session has become inadequate to give full attention to all proposals.  The result is a greater pressure on OCHE staff or the campuses to make decisions concerning allocation of resources or decisions concerning excellence, accountability, and productivity.  Our Board should not have to choose either to “rubber stamp” a committee’s recommendation or reinterate the entire discussion. 

 

To resolve these issues, I propose standing committee(s) meet the day prior to the regularly scheduled Board meeting.  The standing committee(s) would have a minimum of at least three Regent members, but more importantly, all Regents would be encouraged to attend the committee meeting.  These “Committee of the Whole” sessions would allow all regents to participate directly and to be involved at an appropriate level in important discussions and to better understand key campus issues. The committee chair should work with staff to develop, prioritize, and publish the agenda in advance.  The committee meeting  would generally be about two hours, but could be extended as necessary without the time constraints placed upon our formal Board session (generally from Thursday morning to Friday noon).  I believe this committee structure will enhance the productivity of full board meetings and significantly contribute to the board’s responsibility for reviewing, setting, and approving Regent’s policies.

 

Therefore, I move the establishment of a standing committee to oversee student and academic affairs.  As its overarching responsibility, the Academic and Student Affairs Committee is responsible for monitoring the relationship between mission and strategy….between what the institutions purports to be and what they propose to do.

 

Basic committee responsibilities are:

1.       Ensure that academic and student programs are consistent with the institution’s mission and strategies.

2.       Ensure that the budget for academic and student affairs reflects the institution’s priorities.

3.       Ensure that faculty personnel policies and procedures complement academic and student success priorities.

4.       Ensure that the institution’s academic programs are appropriate for its students.

5.       Ensure each institution accesses the effectiveness of its academic and student programs.

6.       Ensure that the Montana University System develops appropriate policies for the management of academic and student affairs.

7.       Ensure that the Montana Board of Regents receives appropriate and relevant data concerning academic and student matters.

8.       Ensure that the Montana University System identifies and sets priorities for review and assessment of academic and student programs.

9.       Review and make recommendations to the Board of Regents on all system matters relating to academic programs and student services, including new program proposals and evaluation of existing programs.

10.   Coordinate academic and student affairs planning and policy to include information technology and educational telecommunications.

 

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee will have a minimum of three Regents as Committee members, but preferably would serve as a Committee of the Whole with all Regents participating.

 

Committee meetings will be held in advance of regularly scheduled board meetings.  The Committee Chair will work with OCHE Staff to prepare, prioritize, publicize, and distribute the agenda at the same time as the board agenda is distributed.  The primary staff member for the Academic/Student Affairs Committee is the Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education.

 

Richard