Montana Board of Regents

 of Higher Education 

Minutes

Special Meeting

December 13, 2002

Montana Higher Education Complex

2500 Broadway

Helena, MT 59620


These minutes were approved unanimously at the January 16-17, 2003 meeting in Missoula, MT

 

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2002

 

ROLL CALL

The Full Board Convened at 10:00 a.m. - Roll Call indicated a Quorum Present  

 

Regents Present: Richard Roehm Chairman, Lynn Morrison-Hamilton Vice-Chair, Christian Hur (by conference phone), Ed Jasmin, John Mercer, Mark Semmens (by conference phone), Margie Thompson, and Commissioner Richard Crofts ex officio

 

Regents Absent:  Governor Judy Martz ex officio, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Linda McCulloch ex officio

a.      Review of proposed process and endorsement of a process for selection of an Interim Commissioner. 

Chairman Roehm opened the meeting with a brief explanation of  the documents provided with the agenda and reminded the Board that the announced purpose of the meeting was to discuss and authorize a process for selecting an interim commissioner.

Regent Thompson MOVED for APPROVAL of the process as outlined in Chairman Roehmís document

Regent Thompson referred to the abundant work the Board had done on Policy 204.3 at the November, 2001 and January 2002 meetings.  The governance and duties of the commissioner are in place and have been in place and she feels strongly that the interim commissioner should have the same duties as the Commissioner, who has done a fine job of surrounding himself with key professionals.  Regent Hur asked Regent Thompson to read the document since he wasnít in the room to receive a copy of it.  (Please see attached document).  Regent Jasmin indicated he liked the direction of the document, but expressed concern that the Chair not exercise any elimination of the numbers that might apply for the position.  Chairman Roehm indicated he had stated in paragraph e. ďat least threeĒ,  but that he will make no value judgment on any candidate.  Regent Semmens indicated this is a sensible approach to the current situation.  It will take six months for a thorough selection process and an interim commissioner is needed during that time.  He indicated he hoped there was sufficient interest to call a special meeting before the January 2003 meeting to discuss applicants in Executive Session.  Chairman Roehm indicated he didnít want to cut the applications off too soon and lose some good ones, but he would like to shoot for an executive session on Wednesday afternoon before the Board of Regentsí meeting in January.  They will play that out as the applications are received.  Regent Jasmin indicated a desire to have the Commissionerís office verify that all the individuals submitted are actually interested in the position.  Chairman Roehm strongly urged everyone to suggest any person they feel is qualified.  Regent Mercer indicated he wanted to offer an alternative course of action.  He feels the procedure which had been moved was a luxury that could not be afforded at this time with the legislature convening in less than a month.  He also indicated that the nominees should not be informed they will be paid the same as the current Commissioner since they donít have the same experience.  He also did not want to name an interim commissioner who would be thinking he might be the permanent commissioner.  An interim starts to get expectations and thinks he will get the job.  He indicated he would like to put forward ideas on how the Board might govern MUS, one of which is to alternate between presidents serving as commissioner, as well as a change in the commissionerís duties.  He believes it would be smarter for the Board to set a fixed period of time for the interim, and would hope to appoint someone with no interest in the permanent position, to take charge as soon as Commissioner Crofts resigns.  It would need to be someone who works in the system now and can go to work immediately.  His suggestion was one of the Deputy Commissioners.  Regent Semmens agreed that it would be best not to discuss pay at this point.  He also agreed that the interim commissioner term should be for six months unless otherwise extended by the Board to allow for the possibility they are unable to fill the permanent position.  He indicated he would be happy to meet during the holidays to conduct a special executive session if they have candidates, and certainly not to go beyond the January, 2003 meeting.  However, he felt that designating a staff member at this meeting would be a mistake.  Concerns are that the staff are already overworked, each doing the work of 1 Ĺ to 2 people. 

Regent Hur offered a friendly amendment to discuss the pay later and to set a six month time period unless otherwise extended, and to have Regent Roehm ask for nominations from the legislative offices.

Regent Thompson noted that the third amendment was already covered but she would entertain the motion on the first two.  Chairman Roehm asked if paragraph c. should be eliminated.  Commissioner Crofts indicated it would be a good idea to seek the middle ground if possible.  Some individuals might be interested but they would certainly be impacted by the salary level they could expect.

Regent Semmens offered an option to use language that pay and benefits would be agreed upon prior to the appointment up to the level now received.

Chairman Roehm indicated he has already been contacted by two business persons who are interested and would have to take leave of absence from their business and move to Helena.  There was discussion on what should be paid for someone coming in off the street without the experience of the Commissioner, and someone who is in the system already.  Regent Hamilton supported paragraph c. as written.  Whether an internal or external candidate was appointed, they are asked to come in and perform high level duties.  In business, they are paid accordingly.  Regent Mercer felt it was not a valid market assessment to bring someone off the street and pay the same as the current commissioner who has years of experience.  Pay is negotiable based on experience.  He further noted that unless they appointed one of the current staff, they would be spending money they donít have.  It will be about $35,000 to pay for the accumulated leave and benefits when the Commissioner leaves.  Anything to pay another person to do the job will have to come from the students or somewhere else.

  Regent Thompson asked to have the wording in paragraph c. changed to read Nominees or applicants will be informed that the pay and benefits for the interim commissioner will be negotiable before appointment.

*   The amendment was approved unanimously on 7-0 vote.

 

Regent Hur also asked to have the six month term limit entered.

  Regent Semmens offered a new paragraph (H) Nominees or applicants will be informed that the term for the interim is intended to be for a term ending on the earlier of the appointment of a permanent commissioner, or six months, unless otherwise extended by the Board.

Regent Mercer asked who would apply for a job with no fixed time.

Regent Semmens then changed his wording for paragraph (H) Nominees or applicants will be informed that the term will be for a period of six months unless otherwise extended by the Board of Regents and agreed to by the interim commissioner. 

*  The amendment was approved unanimously on 7-0 vote.

 

Regent Hur moved that the Board ask for input from governorís office and the legislative offices on the list of nominees.

Regent Thompson indicated  the first time he made this suggestion she understood he wanted the Chairman to ask for nominees from those offices, not that they give input on who the appointment would be.  Regent Hur said he believed they needed someone with the support of both those groups.  Regent Jasmin asked how they would handle one group supporting one and another group supporting a different candidate.  It would open Pandoraís box.  He reminded Regent Hur that this is not a legislative process but a process of the Board of Regents.  Regent Hamilton indicated this motion goes to the core of many of their discussions.  It is solely the responsibility of the Board of Regents to hire both the interim and the permanent commissioner, and to delegate that authority is a clear mistake and flies in the face of their constitutional duty.  Regent Thompson indicated further that it would violate the confidentiality promised applicants and that their personal characteristics will only be discussed in Executive Session.  Regent Semmens agreed it would be a mistake to politicize the process and infer that the Board is somehow delegating its responsibilities to other bodies.

*  The amendment failed on a 5-2 vote with Regents Hur and Mercer supporting

*  The original motion as amended carried on 5-2 vote with Regents Hur and Mercer dissenting.

Finalized Process


With no further business to come before the Board, the meeting adjourned at 10:50 a.m.

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