TO:   Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education

FROM: Darrel Hammon, President, Miles Community College

Terry Hetrick, President, Dawson Community College

Stephen Hoyle, Dean, UM-Helena College of Technology

Jane Karas, President, Flathead Valley Community College

Mary Sheehy Moe, Dean, MSU Great Falls College of Technology

R. Paul Williamson, Dean, UM-Missoula College of Technology

DATE: June 6, 2003

SUBJECT: Proposal for Special Two-Year Initiative

At your March 2003 meeting, you indicated a desire to earmark a certain portion of the general fund allocation for the biennium to initiatives targeting issues of special concern in the Montana University System. As the Chief Executive Officers of Montana s public two-year colleges, we respectfully advance an initiative proposal.

Elevating the image of two-year colleges in Montana has repeatedly been identified as an area of interest to the Regents over the past decade. Most recently, the Two-year Education Task Force appointed by the Regents identified image-building as a critical area of need if Montana s two-year colleges are to realize their potential within Montana s higher education system.

We couldn t agree more. We propose that the Regents respond to this issue by conducting a marketing analysis of Montanans perceptions about the state s two-year colleges. Specifically, the analysis would provide the Regents and the two-year colleges associated with the Montana University System with statewide and region-specific data responding to at least three questions:

  1. What do Montanans know about the educational programs and services available through Montana s two-year colleges?
  2. What are Montanans attitudes about the two-year college as a higher education option?
  3. If advisable, what can community and higher education leaders do to improve Montanans awareness of and attitudes toward their two-year colleges?

The primary benefit of this initiative is the information it would provide to you, as guidance for policy and future initiatives, and to us, as administrators trying to make the best use of our marketing and public relations dollars. None of our colleges has the resources to conduct this study individually; however, with your assistance, we can lay the foundation for statewide and local efforts to tap the full potential of Montana s two-year colleges.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this proposal with you at your July board meeting at Flathead Valley Community College.