May 29-30, 2003

 

ITEM 119-2004-R0503                Authorization to Establish a Mandatory Information Technology Fee at Each Campus of Montana State University

 

THAT:                                       The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes the campuses of Montana State University to establish mandatory Information Technology Fees, effective July 1, 2006, at the rates shown below.     

 

EXPLANATION:                        1.         The proposed FY07 Information Technology Fee semester rates, for fulltime students, at each campus, are as follows:

 

 

Bozeman

 

Billings

 

Northern

 

Great Falls

 

35.00

 

75.00

 

40.00

 

36.00

 

2.         The Student Senate of each MSU campus has passed a resolution which supports the creation of this Fee.

 

3.         At the present time, each MSU campus has a mandatory Network Services Fee, at the semester rates shown below, which provides partial funding of the University’s current debt service on its student/administrative software (SCT Banner).

 

 

Bozeman

 

Billings

 

Northern

 

Great Falls

 

25.00

 

65.40

 

36.00

 

30.04

 

4.         In 1998, when the Regents approved these Network Services Fees for the MSU campuses, they included a “sunset” provision on the Fees.  Therefore, these fees are scheduled to terminate (“sunset”) at FYE 2006, when the bonds MSU issued for the purchase and implementation of the University’s student/administrative (SCT Banner) software will be retired.

 

5.         In 1999 the Regents approved mandatory Information Technology Fees for UM campuses, with no stipulated “sunset” provisions.  The specified purposes for these fees were “the acquisition, renewal, licensing, maintenance, and operations of: campus core and distributed systems, building level hub, switching, and wiring, and the distributed email/media systems for the support of instructional and student programs.”

 

6.         It is important to note that, in addition to these Network Services and Information Technology Fees at MSU and UM, each campus also has a dedicated, mandatory Student Computer Fee, which has the distinct purpose of supporting student and instructional computing labs and services - not system and campus infrastructures.

 

7.         During Fiscal Year 2000 the Regents Task Force on Student Fees conducted a study and completed a report that was focused on the study of course fees.  The objectives of this Task Force was “Truth in Advertising” regarding the price of education; clarity and simplicity of tuition and fee payment; and, better Board control and accountability for fees.  As one outcome of this study, the Task Force recommended that the University System maintain unique, dedicated, mandatory fees. 

 

8.         At present no reliable, continuing source of revenue exists to fully fund the purchase, upgrade, and replacement of central computing, network equipment, software, cabling, and computer room environmental control equipment for the Montana State University campuses.

 

9.         Much of the central computing and network equipment for both the shared systems of the University, as well as for each of the campuses, has reached, or is reaching, the end of its useful lifespan and must be upgraded or replaced before a disastrous failure occurs.

 

10.        The creation of an on-going Information Technology Fee will provide a substantial portion of the funds necessary to ensure timely (4-18 year lifecycle) replacement of the University’s, and campuses’ existing investment in central computing, network equipment, software, cabling, and computer room environmental control equipment, as well as enhancements that will undoubtedly be expected by students and faculty in future years.

 

11.        It is a standard practice throughout higher education for an institution to charge all of its students a dedicated information technology fee.  In Kenneth C. Green’s Campus Computing Report of the 2002 National Survey of Computing and Information Technology in American Higher Education, it was reported that 73.5% of all Public Universities have a fee, with an average annual cost of $177.  The equivalent figures for Public 4-Year Colleges were 74.6%, and $139.

 

12.        Each MSU campus has done all that it can to identify alternative sources of funding for these essential, recurring capital needs.  The primary beneficiaries of the information technology infrastructure on any campus are the programs, students, faculty, and staff of the institution’s general operations - and the two major sources of revenue for an institution’s general operations are state funding and student tuition/fees.  Therefore, if the Regents did not approve this proposed fee, or the students requested that a different source be used, a tuition increase would be the only alternative available - and we believe that the students would prefer a distinct, clearly identifiable, and dedicated fee rather than increased tuition.

 

13.        Board of Regents approval of this request will not modify the current semester costs of the Network Services Fees, nor their pledged use, throughout fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006. 

 

14.        The primary reason for requesting approval of this proposal, at this time, is to formalize the Regents’ commitment to a fee in FY07.  Having that in place in the immediate future is essential to the University, in order to secure lines of credit to implement multi-year infrastructure replacement plans beginning in fiscal year 2004.

 

15.        In accordance with the Regents’ new Policy (506.1) on Student Participation in Mandatory Fee Decisions, this proposal has been shared with MSU Student Leaders throughout all phases of its development, and was formally presented to each MSU campus’s Student Senate for review and discussion. 

 

16.        On each campus there are mechanisms in place to involve both students and faculty in the decision-making processes that will implement these capital plans, and make the annual commitments of funds.  

 

17.        The Attachment to this Proposal is a 10-Year Information Technology Replacement Plan for the University’s shared, multi-campus infrastructure, as well as for each individual campus.  This document identifies each specific (hardware, software, cabling, and environmental control equipment) element of infrastructure that is included in the Plan.               

 

18.        The attached Plan specifically identifies the proposed Fee rates, for FY07, at each campus B and reflects our collective best estimates of likely Fee rates, for all succeeding fiscal years, at each campus.  However, it is important to recognize that this Plan is a dynamic document that involves many cost projections and financial assumptions.  Therefore, this Plan, and its cost projections must, and will, be reviewed (and revised as necessary) each year, following Regents’ policy 506.1 as well as campus guidelines for revision of fees.

 

19.        On the Bozeman campus, the revenue from this fee will be dedicated to funding a sizable portion of the replacement, renewal, and enhancement of the University’s shared, multi-campus central computing systems and services infrastructure, as well as the campus’s central computing systems and networking services infrastructure.  This includes 69 servers, 11 printers, 4 backup and storage devices, 4 uninterruptible power supplies, 2 air conditioning units, an electrical connection to a generator, a halon fire suppression system, 236 network devices (switches, routers, hubs) which service 7,019 active network ports.  It also includes building wiring for 54 buildings and the campus fiber backbone of about eleven linear miles of cable.  The total capital asset value of the shared, multi-campus infrastructure at this time is $982,369; and the Bozeman campus infrastructure is $6,664,505.

 

This infrastructure includes the University’s central administrative computing system, which serves all students and student employees; and also includes the University’s high-speed 24 Mbps Internet access as well as its 45 Mbps Internet2 access.  The Internet routers are included in our network equipment but not the annual operating costs to pay for the Internet access. The more specific student benefits included within this infrastructure are such things as connections for well over 300 computers in global-access student labs, free e-mail accounts for each student, free Web page hosting for interested students, and specialized computing systems for student advising, on-line class registration, personalized student information access, and a student government on-line voting system.

 

20.        On the Billings campus, in addition to funding the campus’ portion of the MSU central computing costs, the revenue from this fee will be dedicated to funding a sizable portion of banner operations, campus IT infrastructure, servers, desktops, security, software, and internet.

 

21.        On the Northern campus, the revenue from this fee will be dedicated entirely to funding the replacement, renewal, ongoing operational costs and enhancement of the University’s shared, multi-campus central computing systems and services infrastructure.

 

22.        On the Great Falls campus, the revenue from this fee will be dedicated to funding the MSU Great Falls portion of the replacement, renewal, and enhancement of the University’s shared, multi-campus central computing systems and services infrastructure.   Remaining revenues from this fee will be used to fund a sizable portion of the replacement and maintenance of the campus’s computing systems and 2 the networking infrastructure costs.

 

The MSU Great Falls computing systems include a Banner forms server, 88 desktop PC’s for Staff and Faculty and 11 Banner use printers.  The network infrastructure, which serves all students and employees, for the campus WAN and LAN includes a router, a core switch and 16 distribution switches.  Capital investment for these network devices is about $100,000.  The ongoing costs for the network are maintenance for equipment, administrative, core and circuit costs for the DS3 connection to Summittnet II (i.e. Internet) for FY 03 are $41,468.