Question #10

How does the BOR authorize a center or institute?  When a center or institute is a not-for-profit, how are the revenue and expenditures accounted for in the MUS budget?  There is not a policy on the BOR website and the website list is not current, e.g. the Skeen Institute, Wind Center, Research and Development Institute and the Higher Education Centers in Lewistown and the Bitterroot.  The BOR was presented a proposal at its 1/7/09 meeting to house the Rural Landscape Institute at the OCHE; how will the BOR decide on whether to move forward on this proposal or not?

  • Centers and institutes which are intended to be permanent academic or research installations on a campus of the Montana University System are required to be reviewed and approved by the Board of Regents at a meeting of the board, upon the request of a campus and following discussion and public comment.  [BOR Policy 218, Institutional Organization]   Centers or institutes which are located outside of the Montana University System do not require regents’ approval, even if our campuses are associated with them for a period of time.  An example of such an institute is the Skeen Institute, which was never located in Montana and with which MSU was affiliated for research purposes for a period of years.

  • Higher education centers are governed by BOR Policy 220, Higher Education Centers, and require presentation of a program proposal documenting a number of specified aspects of the proposed center.  The two higher education centers were both approved, pursuant to BOR Policy 220.

  • Centers or institutes approved by the BOR are not separate, non-profit corporations but are programs operated by the units of the university system.  MUS units do have affiliations with various non-profit corporations, most notably the affiliated foundations.  Non-profit corporations are separate legal entities bound by Montana statutes governing non-profit corporations.  The Board of Regents has no legal authority over these corporations.  MUS units may receive funds from these institutions as donations or under contract and those funds are included in the budget and accounted for in the unit’s financial statements.  If the affiliated non-profit corporation is considered a “component unit” under the GASB rules, the financial statements of the university would also report financial information regarding these component units. 

  • BOR policies 218 through 218.10, relating to institutional organization, and Policy 220, Higher Education Centers, are part of the Policy Manual which can be found on the BOR website under “Board of Regents.” 

  • The Skeen Institute is a New Mexico based institute, with which MSU was affiliated for a period of years.   MSU’s affiliation did not represent a permanent academic program at MSU; in fact the MSU component of the Skeen Institute was formally named the Montana Sustainable Rangeland Livestock Task Force.  As such, this affiliation was not required to be approved by the BOR.

  • The Montana Wind Applications Center WAC) at MSU was created in 2008 by the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  DOE provided both the designated title and the start-up funding.  Montana was one of the first six states to receive DOE funding for a Wind Applications Center. The WAC designation was given by DOE, and BOR approval is not needed for MUS campuses to be associated with it.   

  • The Research and Development Institute (RDI) was never an MSU organization.  It was a 501(c)(3) organization with its own governing board with which MSU contracted from 1980 to 2002 for services relating to the licensing of MSU technologies. Neither the creation of, nor the dissolution of, RDI was within the purview of MSU or the BOR.   

  • A presentation on the Rural-Urban Partnership was made to the BOR during the public comment portion of the January 2009 BOR meeting.  The BOR has not been asked for either approval of the initiative or for it to be housed at OCHE, although the presentation included that as an option.  The BOR will consider this matter further if and when the matter is presented to the board for action.  The item would have to be placed on the board’s agenda in accordance with BOR practices.