Report of Montana Student Affairs Officers
Montana’s higher education Student Affairs Officers convene bi-monthly, the day before the Board of Regents meeting. In the past year, the Student Affairs Officers have pursued directions indicated in the Regents’ Strategic Plan to increase collaboration and efficiency through effective planning, assessment, and resource sharing in administrative functions. The Student Affairs Officers have begun independently several projects and lent their expertise to shaping other initiatives.
Reciprocal Campus Services: Each year, many students enroll for practica, internships, or
student teaching assignments that take them away from a “home” campus to other parts of the state for a semester or even a year. Student Affairs Officers are exploring how and whether to offer “displaced students” access to campus services through the campus nearest their assignment location. An audit of what fees are charged such enrollees has been conducted, and discussions are now focused on what kinds of services or support would be most desirable.
Career Services Study Group for Web-based Services: The Student Affairs Officers have deliberated about collaborative ventures and determined that a good possibility lies with Web-based programs for posting job vacancy listings and student resumes and scheduling interviews between students and prospective employers. With support from the Student Affairs Officers, the Deputy Commissioner invited a Career Services Study Committee to explore the possible benefits of system-wide acquisition of one of the new career management systems and to make recommendations to the Chief Student Affairs Officers. Career Service Directors met twice to review two products—MonsterTrak.com and Experience.com. A summary of the February meeting is attached and will be discussed by the Student Affairs Officers on March 20.
Financial Aid Services. Based on parent input, the Student Affairs Officers plan to meet with the campus Financial Aid Directors to discuss how higher education can make basic information about financial aid practices clear and more accessible to low-income and first-generation students and their families. The initial plan is to brainstorm to identify features that the campus financial aid processes have in common and see how to align them more closely and explain them more simply.
Emergency Response Planning. On September 11, 2001 student affairs and campus leaders from all the campuses convened with the commissioner via conference call to report on their campus activities related to the emergency. They also discussed what leaders at each campus could do to help each other. As a result, Student Affairs Officers requested a Campus Crisis Response presentation and discussion for the November Board of Regents meeting.
Glenn Puffer of MSU-Bozeman briefed the group on the campus’ Emergency Response Plan and Manual, the Emergency Notification System and the levels of alert. Currently, each MUS institution has a crisis plan in place, each designed according to the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Domestic Emergency Preparedness and to fit campus conditions. UM-Missoula has a campus emergency response plan that covers all types of emergencies, and each student affairs area has a plan that is further refined for its respective service or facility. MSU-Billings has expanded its campus crisis team and redone its crisis response plan. UM-Western revises its crisis manual every fall with the last revision in November 2001. Full Scale Crisis Exercise was held November 30 resulting in an almost perfect rating for UMW staff & administration on crisis handling.
Consultation: Over the past several months, Student Affairs Officers have contributed substantively to the formation and charges of several major task forces and study groups that are working on behalf of Montana higher education.
The Task Force on Tech Prep Articulation in the Montana University System has been charged to review issues raised by the Tech Prep programs and to recommend how to improve linkages, meet the needs of students and ensure the university’s standards for program coherence and academic rigor. Its activities will include an extensive investigation of Tech Prep practices in the state and standardizing how Tech Prep credit is handled, transcripted and articulated in Montana.
The Task Force for Administrative Support for Distance Education was created to revise and simplify procedures related to Regents policy 305.1, Simultaneous Registration. The purpose of the Task Force is to review MUS policy and practices [in admissions, registration, financial aid, and fee payment] against today’s asynchronous learning environment, identify MUS policy and procedural barriers to distance learning, and make recommendations for changing these to enhance access and facilitate simultaneous enrollment at more than one campus in the state.
Student Affairs Officers gave valuable input for the design of the Montana University System 2002 Transfer Project and the selection of the Steering Committee membership. Transfer issues cut across the Academic and Student Affairs divisions of the university involving admissions officers and registrars as well as academic advisors, department or program faculty and chairpersons, and deans who certify graduation.
JAS: March 1, 2002