Executive Summary

MSU-Northern FY2005

Montana State University Northern continues to face the challenges faced by all campuses in the University System, less support from the state and an ever increasing reliance on tuition. In the last three fiscal years, Northern has seen state support per FTE go from $4,558 in FY03 to $3,737 for FY05. As a result of this reduction in state funding, tuition for a full time undergraduate-lower division student has gone from $1,096 in FY03 to $1,375 in FY05. While these challenges are not new to Northern, the shift in funding has placed a growing burden on the students served by the campus. For our students, 80% who receive some sort of financial aid, the affordability of attending college is beginning to diminish.


The campus has experienced reductions in student FTE. In FY02 Student FTE was 1,485, in FY03, 1,446 and currently for FY04, 1,426. With both the reduction in state support and declining student FTE, the campus continues to focus on ensuring we are operating as efficiently and effectively as we possible can. The campus has undertaken several reorganizations within both the academic and support service areas. Most notably, the dean structure implemented in January 2004 will provide consistent and accountable leadership within each of the colleges. We have also realigned resources to create a central tutorial and assisted computer lab in a new learning center located in the library. We will continue to analyze each of our operations to ensure they are operating efficiently.


The campus executive team continues to formulate budget policy based on the premise that any new initiative undertaken by the campus has to be funded by reallocating existing resources. In our budget outlook, we factor marginal increases in non-tuition resources. Although we continue to look to reallocating existing resources we are finding it is getting increasing more difficult to find resources to reallocate. We are at budget levels in many areas where there is only funding for basic services. To make further reductions in these areas would put us in a situation where we are not able to provide even basic services.


The budget process on campus involves input from each college and department. The formation of budget priorities is guided by three criteria which were determined as a result of the master planning process the campus completed over a year ago; does the new activity set Northern apart and create a unique opportunity for students; reinvest in campus infrastructure and learning environments; and enhance the campus residential amenities and services.


FY2004 Successes and Challenges:


  • MSU-Northern was successful in continuing its efforts to refocus its strengths in the area of business, technical education, teacher education, nursing and reaching out to serve northern and eastern Montana. This past year the campus began delivery of upper division business courses to the Fort Peck Tribal College in Wolf Point and Poplar. MSU-Northern has enhanced its offerings in Lewistown, Great Falls and most recently, in conjunction with other MSU campuses, is delivering a nursing program in Shelby. Fall 2004 will mark the beginning of a plumbing program being offered in the state. Northern, in cooperation with the state plumbing industry has been successful in bringing this much needed opportunity to Montana. We will build on this success as we look to expand into electrical and other trade areas. We will continue to build these types of partnerships with industry, area tribal colleges and communities in the region.


  • The College of Education continues to deliver elementary teacher education to the area tribal colleges as well as delivery of Learning Development graduate degree to cohorts throughout the state. We have delivered cohort programs in Helena, Great Falls and Havre. We are currently studying the possibility of delivering the cohort program to other areas of the state.


  • We continue to enhance the learning environment on campus by allocating resources to reduce deferred maintenance issues. The two new fees IT infrastructure and academic facility approved in May 2003 have allowed the campus to begin making significant changes and upgrades to our classroom and labs. With our access fee revenues we are continuing with parking lot, roadway and sidewalk repair and maintenance. This past year the campus has completed IT infrastructure wiring projects throughout campus that has dramatically enhanced the learning environment for students. All of our major instructional buildings, library and a residence hall have been wired. Due to a Summer 2003 hailstorm, we are currently replacing or significantly repairing almost every roof on campus. Our LRBP proposals for next legislative session will continue to focus on the repair and/or replacement of infrastructure.


  • We have begun the construction of the Applied Technology Center and anticipate completion Summer 2005. This facility will provide an enhanced learning environment for our students and additional industry training opportunities.


  • We are planning to invest additional resources in our recruiting efforts in the Canadian market. Discussions continue with Canadian schools on the creation of articulation agreements.


  • Areas historically served by Northern are areas in the state that continue to see declining populations. It is an ongoing challenge for us to continue to look to new opportunities for delivery of our offerings. We will continue to invest in Great Fall and Lewistown.


  • Though we have made progress on deferred maintenance issues, there is still much to be done. We will continue to invest in the infrastructure of this campus


  • Attracting qualified faculty to the campus continues to be a major challenge. The salary package we are able to offer is not competitive. This past year we had two failed faculty searches because we did not attract a qualified pool of applicants.


Montana State University Northern will continue to face budget challenges for FY2005. While these challenges are not new, the campus will continue to move forward with careful planning.