March 20-21, 2003


ITEM 118-2803-R0303                Authorization to Establish a Permanent Information Technology Fee; Montana State University-Northern        


THAT:                                      The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes Montana State University-Northern to replace its temporary Network Services Fee with a permanent Information Technology Fee, at FYE 2006, when the temporary Fee is scheduled to expire.


EXPLANATION:                        1.   The Network Services Fee is a mandatory, per-student fee which provides funding for Northern’s share of the current debt service on the student/administrative system (SCT Banner) and central costs associated with the system. It is scheduled to terminate (“sunset”) at FYE 2006, at which time the bonds issued to pay for the purchase and implementation of the SCT Banner System will have been retired.


2.   In 1998, when the Regents approved Network Services Fees for MSU campuses, they required a “sunset” provision on the Fees.  The following year, when the Regents approved Information Technology Fees for UM campuses, no “sunset” provisions were required.


3.   At present no reliable, continuing source of funding exists to fully fund; the purchase, upgrade, and replacement of central computing and network equipment and software located at Montana State University-Bozeman or fund life cycle replacement and support of faculty and administrative desk top computers at Northern.


4.   Much central computing and network equipment located at MSU-Bozeman has reached, or is reaching, the end of its useful lifespan and must be upgraded or replaced before a disastrous failure occurs.


5.   The creation of a permanent Information Technology Fee will generate approximately $110,000 per year on the Northern Campus which will provide a substantial portion of the funds necessary to ensure timely (3-4 year lifecycle) replacement of the University’s existing (~ $3,000,000) investment in central computing, networking equipment and software, as well as funding for life cycle replacement and support of faculty and administrative desk top computers.


6.   Board of Regents approval of this request will not modify the current $36/semester cost of this Fee, nor its pledged use, throughout fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006.  However, approval of this request, at this time, will allow the University to begin developing long term financial and capital replacement plans.


7.   In accordance with the Regents= new Policy (506.1) on Student Participation in Mandatory Fee Decisions, this proposal was presented to the ASMSUN Senate for its review and discussion. 


8.   Use of Information Technology Fee revenues will be subject to coordination by the MSU-Northern Technology Committee, which includes student representation as well as university faculty, staff, and administrators.