Filed by
George M. Dennison

University of Montana, Missoula, offers an array of programs and services designed to increase, enhance, and support the diversity of the faculty, staff, and students.  Continuing programs include the Department of Native American Studies (35 majors,  59 courses, 2,289 seats, and 5,454 total credits in FY 2007); American Indian Disability Technical Assistance Center (1,745 visits in FY 2007), Bridges to Baccalaureate Program; Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN), Native American Center of Excellence (NACOE); TRIO Student Support Services; Women’s Center; Women’s Studies Program; Intercultural Youth and Family Program; National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF-EPSCoR); Health Career Opportunity Program; American Indian Psychology Program (InPsych); Indian Law Clinic; Mental Health Career Opportunity Program; Training American Indians in Environmental Biology (TRAIN); Graduate School Native American Assistantship Program; Native American Natural Resources Program; NSF ADVANCE Program; American Indian Student Services Program; Office of International Programs; Office of Foreign Students and Scholars; Office of New Student Services for Minority and International Students; and Office of Disability Services for Students.  New programs since 2005 include the Sloan Native American Graduate Student Program; Washington Foundation Native American Fellowship Program; Native American Research Laboratory; National Native American Trauma Center ($2.4 million over three years); NSF sponsored Center for Learning and Teaching in the West (science, math, and technology teaching); and Teacher Education for Literacy Education and Teacher Training for Excellent Reservation Schools (LETTERS) ($3 million over five years).

Through these programs, the University has roughly doubled the enrollment of Native American students between 1992 and 2007 (from about 2.7 to 4 percent of the student population), with dramatic growth in the number of Native American graduate and professional students; doubled the number of Native American social and professional clubs and societies; increased the Native American fee waivers given annually from $136,892 (126.9 FTE) in FY 1992 to $1,054,202 (270.59 FTE) in FY 2006, amounting to nearly half of all mandatory fee waivers; ranks 19th nationally among state universities for the awarding of baccalaureate degrees to Native Americans; increased study abroad and sustained international student enrollments; increased significantly the enrollment of students with disabilities to 903, and graduated 146 students with disabilities in FY 2007, a 73 percent increase; extended the Disability Services for Students to the affiliated campuses; increased bilateral agreements with international universities for student and faculty exchange to some 70 institutions around the world; initiated language instruction in the Blackfeet language using distance technology in collaboration with Blackfeet Community College; and developed plans for mentoring of African American students on the campus for implementation during FY 2008. 

At the same time, as noted, the number of Native American graduate and professional students has increased, thanks in great measure to the support provided by fellowships and institutional assistantships.  The new Native American Research Laboratory will provide a venue designed to enable Native American graduate students in science to develop research competency in a safe location.  The Native American Center funded entirely by private donations and scheduled for ground-breaking in Spring 2008 will provide a home for the various programs and a visiting center for groups from off campus.  All the Tribes in Montana participated in the Blessing Ceremony to consecrate the ground chosen for the site of the Center around the Oval in the middle of the campus. The National Native American Trauma Center has worked closely with several Reservation communities to provide needed services to children in the Reservation schools, and will enhance those services during the next three years.  During FY 2007, the President accompanied by several faculty members and administrators visited all but one of the Tribal Colleges, and will visit the remaining one during FY 2008 – the original visit was rescheduled because of weather conditions.  Finally, the Council of Tribal Presidents continues to provide advice and counsel to the University through President Dennison.

The action plan for the coming year includes the following items:

  1. Increase enrollment of Native American students to 600 for FY 2009.
  2. Increase enrollment of other minorities to 550 students by FY 2009.
  3. Increase enrollment of international students to 600 by FY 2009.
  4. Increase enrollment of Native American doctoral students to 27 by FY 2009.
  5. Break ground for the Native American Center in May 2008 and complete construction in FY 2009.
  6. Increase Native American scholarships by $40,000 in FY 2008-9.
  7. Review and change as needed the functioning of Native American Student Services in FY 2008.
  8. Enhance Native American Student Orientation in FY 2008.
  9. Begin immersion language instruction in Chinese in FY 2008.
  10. Continue development of instruction in Arabic to include fourth level in FY 2008.
  11. Sign at least three more exchange agreements with international universities in FY 2008 and FY 2009.
  12. Review by FY 2009 all existing exchange agreements for their continued relevance and renew or terminate as findings dictate.
  13. Sign an agreement to participate in the IE3 Global International Internship Program for the placement of up to five (5) student interns in various countries per year beginning in FY 2008, and increase the numbers as resources and interest warrant.
  14. Launch and sustain Blackfeet language instruction in FY 2008 and launch instruction in Salish and Kootenai languages in FY 2009.
  15. Begin teacher preparation program with scholarship support for Native American students and para-professionals in FY 2008, in collaboration with Tribal Colleges.
  16. Continue in FY 2008 the development of the Indian Education for All curricula for prospective teachers, current teachers, and all students at the University.
  17. Launch and sustain Native American Research Laboratory on campus in FY 2008, directed by a Native American doctoral student under the supervision of the Graduate School, for Native American students in science.
  18. Develop a proposal for a Master of Arts in Native American Studies in FY 2008.
  19. Seek to increase Native American faculty members by recruitment of 2 FTE for FY 2009.
  20. Seek to recruit 2 FTE Native American support staff for FY 2009.
  21. Extend additional services through the National Native American Trauma Center to the Reservations in Montana during FY 2008 and FY 2009.
  22. Implement African American student mentoring program in FY 2008.
  23. Recruit a Director of African American Studies in FY 2008.
  24. Recruit affirmatively for women and minority faculty and staff in FY 2008 for FY 2009.
  25. Implement family friendly workplace policies for FY 2008, including a facility for faculty and staff pre-school children by FY 2011.