Mission, Vision, Goals and Objectives of the

Montana University System


Mission:           The Mission of the Montana University System is to serve students through the delivery of high quality, accessible postsecondary educational opportunities, while actively participating in the preservation and advancement of Montana’s economy and society.  


Vision:             We will prepare students for success by creating an environment of ideas and excellence that nurtures intellectual, social, economic, and cultural development.  We will hold academic quality to be the prime attribute of our institutions, allocating human, physical, and financial resources appropriate to our educational mission.  We will encourage scientific development and technology transfer, interactive information systems, economic development and lifelong learning.  We will protect academic freedom, practice collegiality, encourage diversity, foster economic prosperity, and be accountable, responsive, and accessible to the people of Montana. 


Goals:              The following five goals and subordinate objectives will guide the Montana University System in moving toward realization of its vision for the future of higher education in Montana.


A.      To provide a stimulating, responsive, and effective environment for student learning, student living, and academic achievement.


1.       To assure adequate campus policies to protect academic freedom and promote the free exchange of ideas while requiring pre- and post-tenure evaluation of  faculty performance and systematic program review that reflect the Regents’ priority on student learning.

a.       OCHE will monitor campus and community newspapers and other media for stories raising issues about academic freedom.  The Commissioner will report annually at the May meeting if significant issues have surfaced.

b.       Campus CEOs will report to the Regents every three years on the effectiveness of pre- and post-tenure review of faculty performance.

c.       The Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs will implement the productivity and qualitative review of all programs during alternate years.

d.       By July of 2002 the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education will provide the Board of Regents a recommendation on increasing the productivity standards for academic programs at all levels.


2.      To offer academic programs and services focused around approved campus  missions and consistent with available resources.

a.   The Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs will ensure that all proposals for new programs and services are consistent with campus mission statements, sufficiently funded, and high priority.


3.      To foster an environment that attracts and retains high quality faculty and staff.

a.   Implement the Montana University System Achievement Project (MAP) which is designed to improve communications between employees and supervisors, increase opportunities for job related feedback, allow employee ownership in the development of career plan, and compensate employees on the basis of performance and contributions to the organization.

b.   OCHE and campus leadership will pursue with the Executive and Legislative branches improvements in compensation, benefits, and professional development for all employees.

c.   All employees on Board of Regents contracts will be provided annual written evaluations based upon performance and contribution to organizational goals.


4.   To improve rates of student retention and degree completion across the Montana University System.

a.       Encourage use of AP and other credit by examination programs for in-coming and enrolled students, establish goals for increasing these programs, and investigate the use of incentives to encourage improvements (on-going)

b.       Establish uniform Board of Regents policy on acceptance of AP credit across all campuses (November 2002).

c.       Board of Regents will approve retention plans for each campus by September 2002, including goals for improved retention rates.

d.       Deputy Commissioner will provide the Board of Regents with recommendation on revision of policy on remedial and developmental education by January 2003.

e.       Improve and simplify articulation of courses and programs across the Montana University System.


5.   To develop, maintain at/near state-of-the-art condition Montana University System facilities, technology and infrastructure and to coordinate the use of capacities and resources across all MUS institutions.

a.       The Associate Commissioner for Fiscal Affair will work on a long range financial plan for the Montana University System that includes replacement cycle for technology and funded depreciation of technology assets.

b.       The Associate Commissioner will develop a facilities plan that integrates deferred maintenance into an all funds budget by January 2003.

c.       The Office of the Commissioner will ensure that each campus develops and implements a facilities master plan by January of 2003.

d.       Each campus will develop and implement financial planning and assessment procedures at the campus and departmental levels to ensure the adequacy and integrity of campuses financial controls (July 2002).

e.       The Associate Commissioner will work with campus senior administrators to explore the potential for coordinating and sharing resources across all MUS campuses (on-going).


6.   To ensure student readiness for higher education and validate student competencies for graduation.

a.       Develop, test and evaluate proficiency admissions standards and instruments in writing  and mathematics proficiency.  Implementation by Fall 2003.

b.       Develop, test and implement graduation competencies for the campuses.  Graduation criteria in writing established by all campuses by May 2003.

c.       The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education will monitor professional skills/certification examinations scores for graduates and report annually.

d.       The Board of Regents will initiate discussions with the Board of Public Education regarding making our required high school curriculum more rigorous (January 2002).


B.   To make a high quality, affordable higher education experience available to all qualified citizens who wish to further their education and training.


1.    To identify or seek creative funding alternatives that will expand public and private resources.


2.      To make sure that every academically qualified individual has an opportunity to receive the benefits of higher education without financial or social barriers.

a.       OCHE will determine the needs of Montana students for need-based aid and incorporate the findings into the 2003 Montana University System budget request. 

b.       OCHE will work with the executive and legislative branches in seeking the establishment of merit-based financial aid in order to retain more of the best graduates of Montana high schools.

c.       The campuses will work to increase the amount of funding available for merit-based and need-based financial aid (on-going). 

d.       OCHE will work with the campuses, GSL, and SAF to create a web site that allows statewide access to information about planning for postsecondary education including academic preparation, career planning, and estimating and meeting financial need (July 2002). 

e.       OCHE will  continue its work on evaluation of graduate education in terms of affordability, adequacy of funding, and the appropriate array of graduate programs that the MUS should offer.  Study to be completed by November 2002.


3.       To expedite student progress towards degree objectives in order to reduce time to degree (and related costs) and maintain affordability for the widest range of students.

a.       Work with K-12 sector to enhance the skill level of high school graduates—to reduce the amount and extent of remedial instruction necessary for Montana High School graduates (on-going)

b.       Encourage greater use of credit-by-examination, dual credit enrollment while in high school, Tech Prep and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

c.       Maintain the tuition differential policy to keep costs of Colleges of Technology lower than 4-year institutions, and move toward a tuition policy that will keep tuition lower at our regional campuses than at our research campuses (May 2003).


C.      To deliver higher education services in a manner that is efficient, coordinated, and highly accessible.


1.  To operate as a unified system of higher education and increase productivity through effective planning, assessment, collaboration and resource sharing.

a.   Afford students access to high-cost programs not available in Montana [medicine, dentistry, speech pathology, etc.] via WICHE, WAMI (on-going).

b.      Increase System and campus productivity within existing resources by identifying

i.)     appropriate productivity measures and assessing regularly, by July 2003

ii.)  opportunities for redesign/reengineering for savings/efficiency by July 2002, and

iii.) professional development programs for faculty, staff, and administrators.

c.    Actively incent and pursue opportunities for academic and administrative collaboration and resource sharing.

d.      Design a management information system and standard reports to monitor MUS operational efficiency, productivity and effectiveness by July 2002. Report the results to the public with clearly defined, accepted and meaningful benchmarks by September, 2002.

e.      Encourage greater collaboration and mission differentiation to hold down costs and to be more efficient. 


2.   To increase student access to Montana University System programs through coordinated statewide delivery and expanded use of technology.

a.   Increase asynchronous delivery of high demand courses and programs.

b.      Offer balanced combinations of distance learning and campus/community-based active learning.

c.      Use technology to realize efficiencies, facilitate ease of system entry, expand electronic course delivery, etc…


3.   To increase the coordination of academic resources to improve student progress toward degree.

a.   Actively incent and pursue opportunities for academic and administrative collaboration and resource sharing.

b.   Eliminate barriers to transfer and especially articulation between all Montana University System institutions (on-going).

c.   Facilitate library collection development statewide via shared/linked databases. [Also relates to Goal A] by 2003-04.

d.   Actively incent and pursue opportunities for academic and administrative collaboration and resource sharing.

e.   Expedite students' completion of approved programs of study through policies for improved  coordination of course and program requirements, credit transfer, program and course  articulation and coordination of general education and upper division requirements.


4.   To promote diversity with special attention to Montana’s Native American populations.

a.   Implement HB 528 Action Plan for the MUS.

b.      Work with K-12 sector to facilitate access to higher education for Native American  students (Educational Talent Search, Gear Up).   


D.      To be responsive to market, employment, and economic development needs of the State and the nation.


1.   To offer programs and services consistent with the changing market and employment needs of the state and nation.

a.   Assess periodically and systematically the conditions of the changing economy as well as the needs of the State for workforce education and academic programs starting May, 2002.

b.       Offer programs and services consistent with the needs of the State, availability of resources and institutional missions.

c.       Urge faculty to create applied or hands-on learning experiences that are responsive to prospective employers’ needs in appropriate degree programs.

d.       Encourage faculty to include international and interdisciplinary perspectives in academic programs.

e.       Regularly seek, assess and respond to input from key industries and market participants in developing or eliminating curricula and programs effective September, 2002.


2.   To encourage basic research and technology transfer to contribute to the economic development of the State of Montana.

a.   Coordinate opportunities for research, outreach, economic development  via Montana University System Research Committee starting Spring, 2002.

b.   Encourage campuses to conduct research programs and effect technology transfer that uses the communities of the State as laboratories and resources effective immediately.


3.   To promote the full spectrum of higher education needs and opportunities in 2-year, 4-year, graduate and professional education.

a.   Maintain differential tuition policy for colleges of technology and two-year programs.


4.   To make the Montana University System more accessible and responsive to businesses,  government and other constituents.

a.   Encourage partnerships with school districts, businesses, industry and government and report on same (starting January, 2002).

b.   Require external advisory councils for all professional and technical programs effective September, 2002.

c.   Provide workforce training and lifelong learning opportunities as market shows need.

d.   Regularly seek, assess, and respond to input from key industries and market participants in developing or eliminating curricula and programs effective September, 2002.

e.   Develop a Board Information System that emphasizes strategic issues  (those that affect the long-term viability of the Montana University System) and addresses mission, fiduciary responsibilities, institutional liability, environmental trends, opportunities for collaboration, and the needs of Montana citizens.

i.    Standardize data elements collection and reporting processes.

ii.   Define meaningful reports, including accountability reporting.

iii.   Clarify specific reports needed by Board.


E.      To improve the support for and understanding of the Montana University System as a leading contributor to the State’s economic success and social and political well-being.


1.   To improve and expand the communication and outreach of the Montana University System to constituents, communities and policy makers.

a.   Develop and implement a strategy to enhance public awareness of and support for higher education in Montana, to influence the legislative process, and to attract private support for the University System.  Garner support from the MUS foundations for the establishment of the “Education Coalition” (January 2002).  Commissioner and campus CEOs will staff and support the work of the Coalition as necessary and appropriate.  Regents, Commissioner, and Presidents will support the work of Governor Martz’s Economic Development Action Group (through April 2003).

b.       Expand communication of University System facts, accomplishments, and needs to the public, constituent and trade groups, and policy makers.  Commissioner working with committee of university relations officers to develop and deliver a communications plan (on-going).  Regents to discuss communication plan at January retreat.

c.       To develop and promulgate regularly a report to the State about MUS involvement in the discovery of new knowledge, preservation and extension of the State's cultures, and economic and community development.  Explore the potential for using university reports to attain this goal.

d.       Assist policy makers to plan for, sustain, and nurture a quality and affordable higher education system.  On-going work with Governor, Budget Office, Legislative Fiscal Division, and legislators.


2.   To meet constituents’ expectations for accountability through responsible stewardship of resources.

a.       Allocate university system resources based upon a long-term plan with measurable outcomes tied to serving the interests of students and the state.  Continue work or revising the allocation model and the identification of policy issues imbedded in the model (report from the Associate Commissioner at the March 2002 meeting.

b.       Work with policy makers and other stakeholders to develop accountability benchmarks and reporting methods.  Senior Management recommendations on accountability measures by the March meeting.  Commissioner will work with Interim Legislative Committee and appear before the Legislative Finance Committee in December to comment on recommendations of Pam Joehler of the Legislative Fiscal Division.


3.      To expand community involvement, service and outreach initiatives at the campus level.

a.   The Deputy Commissioner will encourage campuses to integrate civic responsibility and community service into the curriculum.  OCHE and Regents will continue to support the work of the Campus Compact.


4.      To partner with state government, our congressional delegation, K-12 education, tribal and local governments, labor and business leaders to preserve and improve the economy of Montana.

a.       Commissioner and others in OCHE will continue relationships with the following groups:

·        State Workforce Investment Board

·        Information Technology Board

·        Governor’s Office of Economic Development

·        Inter-Agency Coordinating Council

·        SummitNet Executive Council

·        Office of Emergency Planning

·        Board of Public Education

·        Superintendent of Public Instruction

·        Education Leadership Group\

·        Education Forum

·        State Chamber of Commerce

·        Tribes and Tribal Colleges

·        Capitol Finance Advisory Committee

·        Montana Association of Counties

·        Montana League of Cities and Towns