Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education

 

Minutes

 

Conference Call Meeting

 

October 19, 2001

 

Montana Higher Education Complex

2500 Broadway

Helena, MT

 


 

These minutes were approved unanimously at the  

January 17-18, 2002 meeting of the Board in Helena, MT.

 

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER  19, 2001

 

The Full Board Convened at 1:20 p.m.

 

ROLL CALL - Roll Call indicated a Quorum Present

 

Regents Present:  Ed Jasmin Vice-Chairman, Lynn Morrison-Hamilton, Christian Hur, John Mercer, Richard Roehm, Mark Semmens, Margie Thompson, Chairwoman, and Richard Crofts (Commissioner).

 

Regents Absent:   None

 

Others Present:  Ellen Ayars, Joyce Scott, LeRoy Schramm, Jeff Weldon for Superintendent Linda McCulloch, Lois Muir, Bob Duringer, Steve Snezek for Governor Martz, Rolf Groseth

 

Chairwoman Thompson requested that everyone remember to stay focused on the one item of the meeting which was to finalize the Strategic Plan.

 

ACTION AGENDA

 

a.         STRATEGIC PLAN Mission, Vision, Goals and Objectives of the Montana University System

 

*         Regent Roehm moved for acceptance of the Strategic Plan as forwarded by the Commissioner on October 10 and revised by the following amendments. 

 

*         Regent Roehm moved to amend the Mission Statement to read "The Mission of the Montana University System is to serve students through the delivery of high quality, accessible, post-secondary educational opportunities, while actively participating in the advancement of Montana’s economy and society.”

 

       The amendment was APPROVED unanimously.

 

In response to a question from Regent Mercer on how the Agriculture Experiment Stations fit into serving students, Commissioner Crofts noted that strictly speaking students are served by the stations although the number is small.  Regent Hamilton added that any agriculture producer or individual who works with the experiment stations, research centers and other organizations affiliated with the university system are in fact students when obtaining knowledge from the people who operate those enterprises.

 

*         Regent Mercer moved to change the wording of  “participating in the advancement of Montana’s economy and society” to read “participating in the preservation and advancement of Montana’s economy and social structure.” 

 

His explanation was that he didn’t understand the meaning of society, but his concern was about the advancement since he believes it means to change things from the way they are now.  He stated that some people in the state want to preserve the agricultural economy of the state and he believes the word “preservation” is very important because there is a lot that higher education can do and has done.  He believes that “social structure” makes more sense because it sounds like something physical.

 

Regent Hamilton argued that once again they were falling into the trap of wordsmithing a philosophical idea. She believes that if society and social structure have no meaning, they probably shouldn’t be in the mission statement at all.

 

Regent Semmens wanted to focus on the words in the Mission Statement as he felt they were so important in terms of trying to embrace the entire mission.  He said he specifically suggested the word “society” over “social structure” because social structure conveyed to him something more of an economic social standing or structure and the word society conveyed more the meaning of cultural events, community service, public service in different ways, and advancing general knowledge, in addition to the economic aspect.  As to “preservation” or “advancement” his rationale is that the term “advancement” does not exclude established industries, but is to develop new strains of wheat, new soil testing methods, etc. to advance and improve that very traditional industry. 

 

*         Regent Mercer withdrew his previous amendment and proposed a change in the wording of the last phrase to “while actively participating in the preservation and advancement of Montana’s economy and society.”

 

Regent Roehm noted that he tried to make this as short as possible because brevity is helpful in a mission statement.  He likes “society” because in the dictionary it says it is a body of individuals living as members of a community as in a society of human beings.  That seems to encompass more than social structure.  As far as “preservation and” as Regent Mercer suggested, except for making it more wordy, it does give additional meaning and he would go along with it.

 

*         Restatement of Motion:  “The Mission of the Montana University System is to serve students through the delivery of high quality, accessible, post-secondary educational opportunities, while actively participating in the preservation and advancement of Montana’s economy and society.”

      The amendment was APPROVED unanimously.

 

*       Regent Roehm moved for the Vision Statement to be modified as follows:   “We will prepare students for success by creating an environment of ideas and excellence which 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 life-long learning.  We will protect academic freedom, practice collegiality, encourage diversity, foster economic prosperity and be accountable, responsive and accessible to the people of Montana.”

 

Chairwoman Thompson noted that the Vision Statement as brought forth from the Board Retreat read as follows: “The Montana University System serves the citizens of Montana and the public good through a diverse community of scholars and learners, representing a rich academic tradition.  This community prepares graduates who are inquisitive, productive and contributing citizens, not only in the state but also in the larger world community.”

 

Regent Hur complained that he didn’t understand what the purpose of the retreat was if everything was going to be modified at this time.   He said he understood that Regent Mercer wasn’t able to attend, but he felt that this telephone conversation might not be the proper forum for modifying everything, because he has a limitation where he is more of a visual person.  He needs to see it in front of him.

 

Regent Semmens noted that not much time was spent on the Vision Statement at the retreat due to lack of time.  However Regent Hamilton had sent out materials to all the Regents since that time which were absolutely on the mark in that vision statements are supposed to be something you aspire to and something that can induce a sense of vision, a sense of excitement, and his own feeling on what the Vision Statement was before was that it didn’t meet that test.  This does.  He further offered that unlike the goals and objectives which have implementation aspects associated with them, the vision statement does not.  He believes this is a reasonable statement of the MUS vision, and the ability to give further consideration to it and amend it is time sensitive in relation to getting the goals and objectives agreed to so staff can move forward.

 

Chairwoman Thompson noted that moving forward on this does not mean it cannot be revisited at a later time.  Nothing is set in concrete as the Mission, Vision, Goals and Objectives are always a work in progress.

 

The ten minute warning was given, and the Commissioner extended the call 15 additional minutes.

 

Regent Mercer noted to Regent Hur that the exact language was sent out by e-mail that morning.  He indicated that he felt it was a big improvement over the previous version but he was very interested in what the other regents had to say about whether or not this is actually a vision.  He believes  a vision is where you want to go to, and he was concerned if the system is not currently preparing students for success.

 

Regent Semmens stated that a vision statement should describe what qualities the system aspires to reach to the fullest, and to be useful it has to be something that’s achievable.  He thinks if they were to state that they are fully and to the utmost achieving all of these visionary statements they would be kidding themselves.  He thinks it’s a good vision statement because it’s guiding actions for the MUS and it is both visionary and achievable.

 

Regent Roehm indicated he drew all this up partly from what Regent Hamilton sent out in her e-mail, the strategic plan discussion, and part of what her quoted experts say the vision should be:   1) to establish a standard of excellence; 2) give guidance that shows members what is expected of them and why, and clarify the definition of success and desirable behavior.  He doesn’t look upon a vision as something in the future that is not being done at this time.  What he is trying to say is these are the things MUS holds dear and this is where they want to put their emphasis to make excellence in all these different areas.  It’s not to say that it’s not being done, it’s to say that they want to do it even better.

 

Regent Hamilton agreed with Regent Roehm and with what Regent Mercer stated earlier.  She believes that this mission statement is nearly what Regent Mercer described in his document on core values.  These are the things that MUS holds as their standard.

 

*       Restatement of Regent Roehm’s motion: The Vision Statement is to be modified as follows:  “We will prepare students for success by creating an environment of ideas and excellence which 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 life-long learning.  We will protect academic freedom, practice collegiality, encourage diversity, foster economic prosperity and be accountable, responsive and accessible to the people of Montana.”

      Motion approved unanimously.

 

This language replaces the language in the original document.

 

GOALS FROM PACKET

 

Regent Semmens suggested that in the interest of time and to focus their energies, they consider the goals and objectives together rather than individually.  He pointed out that the version provided by Regent Mercer was very similar to the version that came out of the Montana City retreat with the exception that it lacks four items.  Two of those items were included in what Regent Mercer called the core values.  The other two items are to increase the coordination of academic resources, to improve student progress toward degree and to improve and expand the communication and outreach of MUS to constituents, communities and policy makers.  He believes all the regents gave careful consideration to these concepts at the retreat in Montana City.  He believes that both those concepts are important and perhaps Regent Mercer actually believed they were just sort of encompassed in other things.  He noted that there were two things in Regent Mercer’s version that were not in the plan that came out of Montana City.  One is the expanded use of outcome assessment to validate student achievement and acquisition of essential skills which he thinks.......

 

Regent Hur Left the Meeting

 

........is a subset of Item A-6 in the Montana City version to ensure student readiness for higher education and document student competencies for graduation.  He suggested as a way of partnering the Montana City version with Regent Mercer’s core values to change “document” to “validate” and to add the second item to Goal E.

 

The call was timed out mid-sentence and then re-established.

 

*       Regent Semmens restated that his only motion to amend the goals and objectives that came out of Montana City are Item 6 of Goal A to change “document” to “validate” to help clarify outcome assessment, and second, in Regent Mercer’s plan item E-2 that states “Partner with state government or congressional delegation, K-12 education, tribal and local governments, labor and business leaders to preserve and improve the economy of Montana” be added as another item to what was the Montana City Goal E. 

 

With regard to “core values” in Regent Mercer’s plan, what the Montana City plan called them was an operating philosophy.  They both are an attempt to state what the core values or philosophies are for the MUS, but Regent Semmens does not believe that either set is a core, central element of the plan itself. 

 

*       He therefore suggested that in order to move forward today that they move forward with the Mission and Vision Statements and whatever goals are agreed upon today, and defer the inclusion of either a statement of core values or an operating philosophy until a later date.  He did believe there were some advantages to setting the principles in the form of core values because it’s more succinct and easier to grasp.  The advantage of the operating philosophy is that more is said, and it is more inclusive but the essential principles are the same in both presentations.

 

Jeff Weldon rejoined the meeting

 

*       Regent Semmens proposed they consider any other amendments to the goals and objectives and to approve those with the amended mission and vision statements and defer and direct staff to have a further look at how best to present the values or principles or philosophies.

 

Commissioner Crofts requested Regent Semmens to restate exactly what his amendment was.

 

*       Regent Semmens stated his amendment to Regent Roehm’s motion to approve the goals and objectives as stated from the Strategic Planning Process in Montana City is in Item A-6 of that plan to change the word “document” to the word “validate” and under Goal E of that plan, to add an item that states as follows:  “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.”  This would be a fourth item under Goal E.

 

Steve Snezek returned to the call

 

Regent Semmens stated further that this amendment applies to consideration of the goals and objectives alone.  Not included in the approval process today is either an operating philosophy or a core value statement, but rather he encouraged staff to consider the most effective presentation of the philosophies or values with that to be considered at another time.

 

Commissioner Crofts advised Regent Semmens that this should be offered as a subsequent amendment.

 

      Motion approved unanimously

 

*       Regent Semmens proposed amending the Strategic Plan that came out of Montana City to at this time remove the statement of operating philosophies in their entirety with the understanding that staff and the Board will work on a framework and presentation for presenting the core values, philosophies and principles at a later time.

 

Regent Hur returned to the call. 

 

Regent Hamilton disagreed on this issue.  Going back to what Regent Hur said earlier this Board spent two days this year putting together this document and a lot of time and thought went into it and there are guiding concepts in the material that Regent Semmens has suggested not be included in the action today and they’re important concepts that Regent Hamilton thinks the people who work in the system need to be aware of.  She’s not willing to just say we’re going to table these concepts till later.  She thinks the Regents have made a commitment to these people and they’re already a little behind in the time line set for this.  This is a living document.  These things can be revisited and reorganized, but that should be done when the whole board is together.  It shouldn’t be done in a conference call situation and it isn’t fair to the campuses to eliminate this or wait until some future time to give them these kinds of directions.

 

Regent Mercer asked the Commissioner how differently the campuses would operate if the operating philosophy is adopted as opposed to if it is not.

 

The Commissioner indicated many of these issues, approaches, and beliefs have been talked about for a long time.  He believes the campuses may go ahead and do it anyway, but that doesn’t address the question of whether these are good ideas or not and whether or not the Regents are ready to endorse them today or some other time.  He is of the view that whatever they are called, these are important notions and when the Regents say something, people are more likely to do it.

 

Regent Semmens clarified that he did not intend this be postponed for an extended period of time, but would like to see them considered at some point in the November, 2001 meeting.

 

Regent Jasmin requested clarification of the motion on the floor.

 

The Commissioner stated the motion on the floor is to amend the document before them by removing from it the section on operating philosophy with the understanding that staff and Regents would come back to this subject at a later point to clarify whether they would include an operating philosophy or core values and what exactly those would be.

 

Regent Hamilton asked if they were assuming that discussion would take place at the November meeting.

 

Regent Semmens stated that is what he wanted.

 

Regent Jasmin called for the question.

 

*       Regent Thompson restated the motion:  to amend the Strategic Plan that came out of Montana City to at this time remove the statement of operating philosophies in their entirety with the understanding that staff and the Board will work on a framework and presentation for presenting the core values, philosophies and principles at a later time.

 

She called for a Roll Call vote.

 

Role call vote: Regent Jasmin -  yes, Regent Hamilton -  no, Regent Semmens -  yes, Regent Mercer -  yes, Regent Roehm -  yes, Regent Hur -  yes, Chairwoman Thompson -  no.

     Motion approved on a 5-2 vote with Regents Hamilton and Thompson dissenting.

 

It was agreed that the Regents would communicate to Chairwoman Thompson or Commissioner Crofts their ideas on how best to proceed with the Core Values or Operating Philosophy.

 

Commissioner Crofts reminded the Board that the original motion still needed to be voted upon.

 

Restatement of Original Motion by Regent Roehm:

 

*       Regent Roehm moved for acceptance of the Strategic Plan as revised and forwarded by the Commissioner on October 10 and with amendments approved today. 

      Motion approved on a 6-1 vote with Regent Hamilton dissenting.

 


 

With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.

 

Mailed to the Board of Regents on                              Approved by the Board of Regents on

 

/s/                                                                                /s/                                                                        

(Date)                                                                          (Date)

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                

Sherry Rosette                                                             Margie Thompson

Board Secretary                                                           Board Chairman