Efficiencies, Economies & Cost Avoidance


  • As part of its Accreditation Self Study in 1999, MSU-Bozeman compared its Support and Physical Plant Program expenditures to those of eight peer institutions. At MSU, Institutional Support expenditures represent 7.25% of the total University budget, while the average share of its peers is 11.50% -- 58% more. For the Physical Plant (non-utility) expenditures, the comparison was similar. At MSU the share of total budget was 8.29%, while the peer average was 9.10% -- 10% more.
  • Implementation of Banner across the four MSU campuses has resulted in efficiencies through sharing administrative system resources for Student, Financial Aid, Finance, and Human Resources. For example:
    • Each campus shares the resources of one DBA team, and avoids the staffing costs of having database administration staff at each campus. Sharing of functional expertise affords similar campus savings.
    • Each campus shares centralized database hardware and software. This provides economy of scale for: licensing, vendor support costs. Sharing a single central server reduces operational costs for utilities, air conditioning, environmental controls, fire suppression, and other related support costs.
    • Each campus shares a consistent implementation of Banner across four campuses making it much easier to transfer students, coordinate ID's, and aggregate information for OCHE and institutional reporting.
    • Single Procurement Card system (PARIS) across four campuses reduces support overhead and permits a single interface into Banner.


Consolidation of Time, Resources and Expertise:

  • The MUS has formed a system-wide committee to implement the new GASB 34/35 statements, resulting in a consistent and uniform implementation. MSU will be implementing consolidated financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002.
  • Sharing technical resources between affiliated MSU campuses results in elimination of duplication of effort and pooling of knowledge in the following areas for finance:
    • Programming interface
    • Finance report writing
    • GASB 35 analysis and implementation
  • Decentralized printing of departmental finance reports resulted in immediate access to reports by departments. Eliminated costly centralized printing, sorting and delivery of reports to the departments.
  • MSU Banner staff obtained the SABHRS interface program used by the University of Montana (U of M) and modified it to meet MSU's needs, rather than creating a new program from scratch. Designing and creating our own program might have been allowed us to add functionality, but would have cost significantly more time and effort.
  • The MSU-Billings' College of Technology fiscal operations have been seamlessly merged into MSU-Billings' fiscal operations.
  • Single budget allocations to the University have allowed the elimination of the time consuming budget amendment process (212s,214s). This reflects changes in reporting to the state at a higher level.

Internal Expertise:

  • MSU completed its upgrade from Banner version 3 to Banner version 4 and from Oracle version 7 to Oracle version 8 with a minimal amount of outside consultant assistance. MSU staff performed their own testing and problem solving to ensure that the upgrades were successful.
  • MSU functional and technical developers produce reports in Microsoft Access, which is included at no additional charge in the standard Microsoft Office suite. These developers, many of them outside the IT department, write custom programming code for each report to enable Access to perform with similar functionality to a more expensive report-writing software package such as Crystal Reports. The maintenance and distribution of these ACCESS reports is highly labor intensive. These efforts have eliminated the need for an investment of capital approximately $250,000 in a report writing software. Electronic reporting reduces printing and paper costs on all campuses and provides tools for making more effective business decisions.


  • Banner Finance has been a significant advancement in our accounting system. Previously we were on SBAS and received monthly microfiche. The reports were not timely. It could be up to six weeks from when an expense occurred before fund controllers saw the expense on their financial records.
  • Management Information has improved significantly. With the SBAS system, if a request was made for information such as what were the travel expenses for the year, someone from accounting would have to go month by month, account by account and build a spreadsheet to show the travel expenses. Now with Banner, a report can be written in a short amount of time to get this information.
  • Banner allows for depreciation, so this will be helpful when we are implementing the new GASB standards.
  • Self-service applications have helped allow students, faculty, and staff to interact directly with administrative systems. Implementation of interactive voice response (IVR) and Web technology enables students to: register for classes, add and drop courses, check class schedules, and obtain grades at their convenience.
  • During peak times, we are seeing 300,000 Web hits per day for student services. A service provided nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no additional staffing for front-office support.


  • MSU developed its own training programs for navigation, basic finance inquiries, and basic payroll inquiries. Representatives from all four campuses participated in the development of these materials. In-house trainers offer these courses at all four campus a total of approximately 80 times per year. To replicate this training with SCT consultants would require about 25 sessions per year, usually costing at least $8,000 each. New Banner users benefit from these training sessions, allowing them to be more efficient and less prone to making errors in Banner.
  • Currently, MSU is seeking creative opportunities, without formal budget funding, to enhance the responsiveness and increase our Banner training course offerings, especially to smaller campuses, by creating interactive online training materials.

MSU-Billings Admissions, Records, Registrar

  • At MSU-Billings the Registrar retired in 1994 and was not replaced; the registrars functions were merged with admissions/recruiting under one director. As the two offices were merged, duties were re-assigned and one classified position was reduced from 1.0 FTE to .5 FTE. In addition, the COT was merged into the four-year campus, and their registrar was not replaced and the recruiting person was reassigned to another function.
  • Recruitment and orientation events are coordinated with the COT and between offices within the University. Contacts with students are also coordinated between the two campuses, saving money on bulk mailings and phoning. As a result, cost savings in printing have also been realized as we have reduced the amount of printed time schedules and registration materials and directed students to use the web or the interactive voice response systems.
  • Banner web and interactive voice response give students access to their grades so we no longer print and mail grade reports to students; also, Banner web and interactive voice response registration options have allowed the office to eliminate yet another position that was dedicated to window services.

MSU-Billings Advisement and Support Center

  • The Advising Center provides academic advising for all incoming freshmen and transfer students. Advisors are available throughout the year by appointment or on a walk-in basis. By bringing the advisors into a centralized setting, the University significantly increased the accessibility of academic advising services for new and ongoing students. This creates institutional efficiencies because faculty do not have to spend one-on-one time advising first and second year students.
  • The consolidation of resources into a centralized Advising Center has enabled the University to significantly expand services with a minimal addition of financial resources. Also, there has been a $2,000 reduction in operating expenses for FY00 and FY01.

MSU-Billings Book Depot

  • The campus has eliminated one full-time position at the Book Depot, and one and one-half positions at the Book Depot West location and at the same time has increased its outreach to the community by opening two more stores to include evening student services.
  • They have instituted cost saving measures by expanding the Point of Sale system thus eliminating extra staff required at the start of the semester to handle the rush of customers.
  • The Book Depot staff has endured years of suffering in a location that has insufficient air-conditioning in the summer and insufficient heat in the winter due to lack of university funds to adequately maintain existing facilities.
  • The staff has doubled and, in some instances, tripled their workloads without being additionally compensated.

Budget Office

  • Only one Crystal report is required to extract the monthly Budget and Financial Information for the Commissioner's Office for all MSU campuses and agencies. The sharing of report formats results in efficiencies and standardized reporting.
  • Only one process is required to calculate the Salary and Fringe Encumbrances for all MSU campuses and agencies.
  • Only one process is required to override benefit expenses to the State Appropriated Benefit Pools for the various MSU campuses and agencies.
  • Documented Budget Office processes and procedures provides assistance to current employees and also serve as a training tool for new Budget Office employees.

MSU-Billings Dining Services

  • ;Dining Services are contracted through Sodexho-Marriott Management Services. The subsidy of Dining Services has been steadily decreasing since 1996-97 and may well approach 0 by the close of FY 01

MSU-Billings Disability Support Services

  • Director appointment has been reduced to .9 FTE for cost-savings; and, the operating budget has been reduced by $6,500 per year.
  • Utilizes a volunteer note-taker system to provide notes for students with disabilities, which saves many thousands of dollars.

Facilities Services

  • As the responsible steward of MSU's utilities budgets, the Office of Facilities Services (OFS) has implemented over $2 million worth of energy conservation projects comprised of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning controls modifications, building envelope improvements, lighting retrofits, and central boiler efficiency improvements.
  • MSU's Heating Plant also changes from its standard 24-hour/day winter operation schedule to a 2-shift/day (16 hour per day) summer operation from commencement to the beginning of fall semester. This conserves ~$75k+/year in utility and labor costs at current energy prices and should pay increasing dividends as energy prices escalate in the future.
  • MSU OFS was a leader in the state in the early 1990's, bidding our own interruptible natural gas contract, that resulted in gas costs to MSU of $1.1 million less than what we would have paid under the regular prevailing gas tariffs paid by other state agencies for the period. We continue to purchase gas in the de-regulated market, securing the best, minimum-cost scenarios available from the prevailing market.
  • In 1991, MSU OFS installed an electric co-generation turbine unit in the Heating Plant, which annually contributes 4%+ (in dollar value) of the campus electricity consumption. To date, the co-generation unit has produced over $750k in avoided electricity costs in its 10 years of service.
  • MSU OFS annually participates in the self-directed Universal Systems Benefit (USB) program, which allows us to self-direct the USB portion of our electric price tariffs, to execute approved energy conservation measures in our facilities. We have aggressively pursued these projects, reclaiming ~$50k/year in USB rebates. This years legislature extended this opportunity.
  • While MSU's 20-year consumption trends have indicated steady growth in electric usage and demand levels, MSU's gross natural gas consumption in recent years has been lower than it was 20 years ago. Although this comparison is not weather-normalized, the relative use levels still speak positively about conservation efforts in light of the many new facilities that have been constructed during that period (many of which are costly, high-energy-use, high-ventilation-rate science and laboratory type buildings).
  • MSU's gross municipal water consumption has also declined during that period, due primarily to much-improved water management practices for irrigation, including the use of untreated, and much less expensive, surface-water sources rather than treated City water.
  • Over the past decade, MSU OFS developed the Facilities Condition Inventory system for the systematic assessment of deferred maintenance, and collaborated with UM to standardize the program and disseminate to all units of the MUS and other state agencies. MSU OFS performs the FCI at all affiliated campuses as well as the Bozeman campus.
  • MSU OFS compiles the consolidated LRBP program for all MSU units, and represents the LRBP program before the legislature.
  • ;Since MSU-Northern has been unable to hire a qualified person to fill their Director of Facilities Services position (vacant since October, 1997), MSU OFS has provided significant assistance in project planning, utility budgeting, engineering, and maintenance expertise. MSU OFS also transferred $20k to MSU's Facilities budget to help fund a competitive salary in hopes of making the next search a success.
  • As budgets were regularly cut in the 1990's, MSU OFS reduced its custodial corps, resulting in reduced general office suit area cleaning services from daily to twice per week; reduced individual office cleaning services from daily once per week; reduced exterior window washing to once per year; discontinued all cleaning services to research labs; and increased the amount of area cleaned per custodian to almost 40ksf (nationally recommended average = ~24ksf/custodian).
  • MSU OFS lengthened all capital equipment replacement cycles, resulting in less capital replacement expenditures per year, but significantly increased equipment maintenance and obsolete, less efficient equipment overall.
  • Over the past decade, a time during which MSU's Grants and Contracts increased from ~$20 million annually to nearly $60 million annually, MSU OFS absorbed significant increases in highly sophisticated, complex, high cost building space and research renovations, which have further strained OFS space management, design, engineering, maintenance and planning resources.
  • As severely limited resources have allowed, MSU OFS has increased Preventive Maintenance and Scheduled Maintenance activities in an attempt to slow the continued growth in our facilities and infrastructure deferred maintenance.
  • As major new facilities have been constructed, MSU has eliminated old, functionally obsolete facilities, thereby reducing the net accumulated deferred maintenance liability.
  • When MSU replaced its primary electrical distribution system in the 1990's, we tripled the line voltage, which reduced distribution losses and produced commensurate savings.
  • Construction of the MSU Utility Tunnel system allows core utility systems to migrate into the protected tunnel environment as existing systems fail, greatly improving system reliability, expansion flexibility and longevity when compared to the previous direct-buried installations.

MSU-Billings Facilities Services

  • Implemented a Facilities Management Information System that operates hand in hand with our new Banner software. This provides real-time updates to customers, minimizes paper work, and eliminates the time involved to re-enter data from one system to the other.
  • Invested $1.2 million over the last 5 years in Energy Conservation Measures resulting in annual utility savings in excess of $100,000. (This saving goes to the Department of Natural Resources to repay the bonds that funded the investment.)
  • Installed a state-ofthe-art Building Operating System which allows us to remotely monitor and control the functions within our buildings over the Internet. This has facilitated our ability to set back thermostats during off hours and will allow us to manage utilities (especially peak demands) through this period of high-priced energy.
  • In FY90 (11 years ago) our campus maintenance budget was $467,576. Our current campus maintenance budget is $445,259 and this includes $96,852 of new space for the addition to the Special Education building.
  • Replaced 24 hr/7 days a week operator service with automated voice mail and updated telephone routing, eliminating 4 positions.
  • Eliminated custodial positions to a bare minimum to cover the campus. According to APPA standard our custodial coverage is very low.
  • Campus Police Officers routinely check all campus buildings and turn off lights and any non-essential electronics that are left on during non-business hours.
  • The majority of our exterior lighting has been replaced with more efficient high-pressure sodium lights and placed on either time clocks or electronic eyes. Half of the lights in the Parking Garage have been turned off to save on the electricity budget.
  • Continue to modernize building systems throughout the campus at every opportunity, (i.e. replace 30 year old, 65% efficient boilers with 85% high efficiency boilers, replace single pane windows with dual pane, low e, thermal glazing, maximize roof insulation with each roof replacement, etc.)

MSU-Billings Financial Aid and Scholarships

  • Since the merger there have been a number of budget efficiencies in Financial Aid. We took on another population of students without adding more help. When COT was a stand-alone school they had a director, admin aid, and several work-study students. Since Banner was implemented we are almost down one less file reviewer since one employee spends so much of her time doing manual work-study adjustments, researching problems, etc.
  • The department has cut $3,000 in operating budget annually.

Grants & Contracts

  • Restructuring resulted in a shared chart of accounts and similar methodologies for the grants and contracts offices in Havre and Billings. We can now work jointly to develop systems that work on all campuses.
  • A very "lean" operation in terms of the number of staff members handling our current level of activity ($61,000,000 in annual expenditures). We are approximately 60% of the average number of suggested staff members for an office of our size based on benchmark comparisons with similar institutions.

MSU-Billings Grants and Contracts

  • Use indirect costs from Grants and Contracts to fund the accounting position that handles grants and contracts, and to fund the Grants Writer on campus.
  • The Banner module allows for automation of tasks previously done manually, such as calculating the distributing indirect costs.

Human Resources

  • All MSU classification reviews are conducted centrally on the Bozeman campus. Centralization has consistency in decisions. Due to the addition of temporary staffing, processing turnaround time has recently been reduced from 6.5 months to 3 months.
  • MSU-Bozeman shares expertise with affiliated campuses in the areas of bargaining, grievances, general personnel questions and benefit issues. Personnel policies and practices are shared with affiliate campuses as needs arise.
  • Working together in the design and implementation of the HR module, resulted in a standard set of data elements allowing reports to be written once and quickly adapted for use by each campus.
  • Development, training and testing of the Montana University System Achievement Project (MAP) has been accomplished through intercampus coordination.

MSU-Billings Human Resources

  • The benefits position on campus has been reduced to half-time due to budget constraints.
  • HR operating budget is at a bare minimum.

Information Technology Center

  • In July 1999, the Information Technology Center's (ITC) allocation of State appropriated funds was reduced by $214,000, resulting in reduction of some services and a general "belt-tightening" throughout the ITC organization.
  • In June, 2000, the position of Director of the Information Technology Center was eliminated. Some of the duties of that position were added to the duties of the Executive Director for Information Services and the remainder were added to the duties of the Associate Directors of ITC. These changes resulted in $25,000 in benefits savings in addition to "flattening" the administrative structure for information technology at the University.
  •  Several years ago ITC initiated support for Microsoft Outlook, an e-mail and calendaring software package. Widespread adoption of Outlook among campus departments has resulted in increased personal and organizational productivity, greatly simplifying the previously cumbersome process of organizing meetings.
  •  ITC installed the Remedy Help Desk software, which allows us to track computer and networking problems across the campus and provides our customers with a way of tracking the progress of our response. Remedy has reduced the down time associated with information technology (IT) problems and increased the efficiency of IT support personnel working in customer departments.
  •  Cutting the back number of hours of computer operator coverage in the machine room has reduced the required number of operations staff. The reduction has been accomplished with the implementation of: 1) a software-based, unattended backup solution and 2) 24X7 computer operator coverage utilizing the commercial "What'sUp" software and pagers.
  • Purchasing only standard, non-custom continuous forms has been implemented to keep consumables costs to a minimum. Distributing standard output printing to the departments has reduced the consumption of costly custom forms and made it quicker and easier for users to get their printed output/reports.
  • The ceiling tiles in the main computer room were lowered to reduce the volume of the environment, which reduced the cost of maintaining controlled temperature and humidity.
  • Weekly, University-wide e-mail notification of our preventive maintenance activities allows customers to plan their work in advance and reduces non-productivity of staff resulting from system outages.
  • The State of Montana recently signed a volume purchase contract for Internet services with Qwest Communications. Our exercise of that contract in the coming biennium will provide over $200,000 of cost avoidance compared to the prices charged by Verio, our current provider. The savings for FY2002 will be $83,000 and for FY2003 will be $124,500.
  • ITC support of the Residential housing data network (Resnet) facilitates high speed student access to the campus network and Internet, as well as reducing the requirement for networking staff within Resnet.
  • ITC staff at MSU-Bozeman provide consulting to all of the MSU campuses, as well as the Office of the Commissioner for Higher Education (OCHE), in networking, server administration, and application support, minimizing the number of IT professionals required at OCHE and throughout the MSU system.
  • ITC has restructured internally to include the Exam Scoring and Instructor Evaluation service as functions of the ITC administrative office. We co-located staff from the two offices to promote cross-training among the staff, allowing them to serve as back-up to each other. This resulted in extended office hours, expanded services to include general scanning services to the campus community, and improved customer service at no additional expense to the University.
  • ITC has researched the telecommunications industry product offerings over the past fifteen years and we have found a number of telecommunications companies who offer commission programs. Commission income is generated by the installation of dedicated communication circuits which by-pass the normal fee structure of our local exchange carrier (now Qwest Communications). We have received commission income from AT&T for the TSAA and Operator Express programs in the amount of $254,000 since FY 94. A second program is with MCI Worldcom for which we have received $62,000 since FY 95 in commission income for their Direct Termination Program. Our newest program is with McLeod USA in which we plan to generate $25,000 in income each year in their dedicated outbound 800-number commission program. All of the revenue from these programs has been used for operational costs within ITC.
  • ITC purchased Meridian Voice Mail in 1992 and we have charged campus departments a small monthly fee plus installation fee for its use. The number of mailboxes has grown to 1,671 in the past nine years. We also provide Voice Menus and Time of Day Recordings for a small fee. These services increase productivity, reduce costs, and provide better customer service through customized recordings, reduced telephone tag, express messaging, and providing standard information to callers twenty-four hours a day. Voice Mail and Menus also allow many departments to reduce or not to increase reception positions because staff can handle their own messaging and recorded information.
  • We established a Telecommunications repair and replacement account in FY 92 and a networking account in FY 93 to set aside annual amounts dedicated to funding upgrades to the telephone system, the campus network, enterprise servers, and building wiring/electronics. These funds earn interest, which supplements the annual savings. These funds have allowed ITC to upgrade many of telecommunications functions on a periodic basis. Nevertheless, MSU's levels of upgrades still do not meet industry standards for investments in infrastructure.
  • Along with the repair and replacement funds established above, we have obtained low-interest loans from the State Board of Investments and from Cisco Finance to spread out the costs of acquiring telecommunications equipment over the life of the assets. This has benefited the campus by allowing us to obtain upgrades when the market or manufacturer offer a new product rather than waiting many years to save up the money or requesting large one-time allocations of funds from the University administration.
  • We were approached by Touch America a year ago about our renting space to them for a new wireless data system called LMDS for their commercial customers. We were able to negotiate a favorable arrangement for MSU whereby Touch America received the space they desired and the campus in exchange received the installation of 3 wireless systems for remote campus buildings that are not connected to the campus fiber optic network backbone. We also receive discounts on connecting additional building systems to the campus network via LMDS.
  • ITC obtained professional training on-site for a number of staff members in fiber optic connector termination. This has enabled internal staff to provide fiber optic systems in campus buildings more cost effectively than by hiring outside contractors. We did not need to hire additional staff but instead provided our existing staff with additional skills.
  • ITC partnered with Facilities Services during the installation of the campus steam tunnel system. The main and side tunnels all have communications cable trays in a standard space within the tunnel system. A large portion of our fiber optic backbone network and some of our telephone system cabling are installed within the tunnel system. This allows much less expensive installations, troubleshooting, and access to the cabling as compared to direct burial systems.
  • The introduction of a hub activation charge of $135 per port three years ago has provided funding for the installation of additional telecommunications closets, electronic equipment, and cabling as needed throughout the campus. The result is better service response time and a better quality network for campus departments that desire the installation of additional telephone and network jacks in their buildings. Now ITC is able to offer buy-only-what-you-need service to all who need it.
  • The Information Technology Center negotiated a Master Lease/Financing Agreement for the Montana University System that gained efficiencies and saved costs by allowing departments to finance computer purchases at favorable rates.
  • Centralized purchasing through the ITC Computer Store allows pooling of purchases to acquire volume discounts on hardware and software sold to MSU-Bozeman, MSU-Billings, MSU-Great Falls, and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. This results in lower acquisition and support costs and provides financial incentives for standardization of computer products on the campuses.
  • Reseller agreements with Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics Corporation were negotiated to provide favorable discounts on workstations and servers purchased by MSU and the University of Montana campuses. A participating addendum was also signed to allow Montana State University to take advantage of volume discounts that the Western States Contracting Alliance negotiated with Compaq Computer. The deep discounts provided by these programs have saved the University tens of thousands of dollars per year.
  • Advisors in the ITC computer store give consideration to the power consumption of computing equipment so that, when appropriate, equipment that consumes less power can be recommended and sold.
  • ITC frequently brings programs of training on IT related subjects to campus at a significant cost savings. Offering training on campus saves travel costs for local participants. Pooling participants from the MSU and University of Montana communities is another way of reducing costs to MSU-Bozeman participants while making low cost opportunities available to others.
  • Significant numbers of students are hired and trained to provide IT support and assistance to the MSU-Bozeman campus community. This results in valuable, real-world work experience for the student, in reduced personnel costs for ITC, and in increased levels of support and satisfaction for our customers.
  • ITC has reduced travel costs and more efficiently used staff time by employing voice and video-conferencing for critical meetings.
  • Public Forums for lead systems staff candidates have been conducted using METNet to encourage four-campus involvement at no cost to the other campuses, allowing them to participate in critical decisions without the cost of travel to Bozeman.
  • Summit 2000 and Banner 4 conversion meetings were conducted using METNet to facilitate four-campus participation free of travel costs.

MSU-Billings Information Technology:

  • Have eliminated 50% of the positions in IT in the last 4 years. This was an area that we have kept sacred because of the significant needs and demands for information technology. However, we have cut to the bare minimum in other areas and can no longer make further budget reductions in these areas. We have classified these reductions as temporary, because we know we have to fill these positions to keep progressive (or even to maintain). The positions that have been cut are:
    • Library IT position
    • Computer Annex classified
    • Institutional planning position
    • Banner Coordinator
    • Banner Assistant Program Manager
    • System Support Specialist
    • Desktop Support
    • Multi media specialist
  • Participate in a common data definition among all campuses facilitating Institutional Research reporting for IPEDS and other periodic surveys.
  • Provide base level service to all four campuses with the Microsoft Higher-Education Campus Agreement which enhances desktop and student computer lab licensing for all campuses.
  • Participate with the process of focusing highly technical skills in one place which provides consulting time to the other campuses.

Internal Audit

  • Bozeman has shared its internal audit staff to review areas on the Billings campus.
  • The resources and expertise of the Bozeman internal audit department are accessible to the Billings campus for consultation.
  •  Coordination of responses to issues contained in the biennial legislative audit is done by the Bozeman internal audit department.
  •  The Billings campus was able to gain membership to and access to resources of the Association of College and University Auditors as a campus of Montana State University.

MSU-Billings Multicultural Student Services

  • MSS handles diversity issues and training for the COT so that they do not need a separate office.
  • MSS has strong working relationship with Admissions and Records regarding recruitment at Indian Reservation High Schools, Tribal Colleges and other areas with minority populations.
  • $8,000 administrative assistant was cut; and $10,000 was cut from the operating budget.


  • MSU-Bozeman shares expertise with affiliated campuses in the areas of troubleshooting payroll processing, implementing system upgrades, account reconciliation, vendor payments, as well as exploring and evaluating increased system functionality (such as Web for Employees, Web departmental time entry, Applicant Tracking, Health and Safety, etc.)
  • Migration toward common data elements within the shared Banner database has resulted in enhanced ability to share technical and report writing resources. Bozeman and Billings campuses have developed and made available reports for use by each other.
  • Sharing one database has made it possible for one campus (Bozeman) to develop and maintain expertise on payroll tax regulations, changes in tax rates, etc. and implement these changes into the Banner system. Affiliate campuses are informed but dont need to expend limited resources developing expertise and maintaining separate systems. Centralized printing of W-2s occurs at MSU-Bozeman.
  • Efficient access to payroll data through Banner is a significant improvement over previous systems. Online Banner queries are remarkable for accessing information quickly.
  • Payroll personnel from all campuses meet weekly via conference call to discuss system issues, share ideas and expertise, resulting in enhanced communication and savings in travel costs.
  • The Banner payroll system automated many tasks previously done manually such as journal entries for pay adjustments.
  • MSU-Bozeman handles centralized processing of Workmans Compensation and is responsible for the payment to the vendor for all campuses including Missoula.
  • Implementation of a shared database has provided the benefit of a backup payroll processing system. If another campus were unable to produce payroll for their campus, payroll could be produced on any of the other campuses. Bozeman has a signature plate for each of the affiliate campuses.
  • Payroll checks are printed and distributed on each individual campus, allowing for greater efficiency and customer service.

MSU-Billings Purchasing

  • Bozeman has been a significant help to Billings in the purchasing area. They have a very knowledgeable individual in their purchasing department that has helped lead us through significant RFP processes.
  • Bozeman has also been very helpful on purchases above our authority, but within their authority.
  • The combined purchasing of computers has saved the Billings campus a significant amount of money.

MSU-Billings Residential Life and Orientation

  • Reduced full time office staff by 1.0 FTE (currently have 1 FTE for both operations)
  • Will close Rimrock Hall and reduce student staff by 1/3 for summer; and reduce water, gas, electrical, and operational expenses for 3 months.
  • Eliminated two Resident Assistant positions for 01-02 school year.
  • Eliminated one Resident Assistant Retreat/training during school year.
  • Reduced expenses for general operations in the office by eliminating several programs and services.
  • Reduced travel expenses by eliminating several trips to conferences annually.
  • Eliminated Academic Honors Banquet held during Spring semester.

MSU-Billings Student Health Services

  • Cancelled the consulting contract that counselors held with the Psychiatrist.
  •  Cancelled the remodeling project for the waiting room and front office area.
  •  Selling used equipment to other departments on campus reduced the cost of upgrading necessary equipment.
  •  Reduced the student worker hours for the wellness office.

MSU-Billings Student Union/Activities

  • Our off campus rental revenue has been cut in half from approx. $30,000 + to approx. $15,000 from Fiscal year 96 to the present. This was primarily the result of new (1997) policies related to competition with the private sector. This has resulted in reduced spending overall.
  • Some routine, annual preventive building maintenance as well as repairs had been deferred during the 5-8 years prior to 1997. The deferred items have been and continue to be addressed individually as the budget will allow each year. Some priority items have been repaired using funds from the Auxiliary Repair and Renovation Fund some items have been handled each year with operating funds, as the budget would allow. Continuing and new projects are now being prioritized into a long-term repair and renovation plan for all of the auxiliaries.
  • Student Union & Activities and Residential Life share the cost of a Lead Custodial position as well as two Custodians to avoid duplication of budget costs for personnel. These staff members are assigned building areas that overlap within the overall building complex.
  • Student Union & Activities and Residential Life have purchased carpet cleaning equipment and supplies together to save on expense and eliminate duplication of services. The two offices also share staff members that have been trained to use this cleaning equipment when appropriate.
  • Student Union & Activities and Residential Life collaborate on campus programming and trainers contracted from off campus when possible to save budget funds utilized for contract fees, travel expenses etc.
  • The co-curricular program of Student Union & Activities continues to grow since 1995 while utilizing the same small unit comprised of one FT Director, one FT Reservations & Conference Coordinator, one 1/4 time Theatre Tech Director, one Graduate student, and 5-7 student staff.
  • Student Union & Activities and the Department of Communication & Theatre continue to share a part-time Theatre Tech Director, Theatre facility, and expenses to avoid duplication of services and personnel.


  • The investment function for State and Designated funds has been centralized, not only gaining efficiency, but maximizing investment income.
  • The MSU system was able to obtain better interest rates on the Auxiliary Revenue Bonds because of the combined pledging of resources.
  • Billings was able to refinance at lower interest rates and obtain additional funds for projects without increasing the costs to students or the state. Prior to the merger, Billings had reached its cap on the number of times a bond series can be refinanced. With the merger, Billings was looked at as a different institution and allowed to refinance.
  • A consolidated revenue bond report is issued annually. Cost savings are achieved with the centralization of the audit function.
  • The cross pledging of bonds issued across Montana State University was initiated in 1994 to allow badly needed projects some of which would not have otherwise been possible for the smaller campuses, to be financed at favorable rates.


MSU-Billings Academic Departments

  • Operating budgets have been decreased to a bare minimum of $1,000 per full-time faculty member; and faculty travel has been significantly reduced.
  • MSU-Billings has permanently eliminated 12 faculty lines in the past five years.
  • MSU-Billings has converted 12 tenured faculty lines into non-tenurable, lecturer lines with higher teaching loads.
  • All assistant and associate deans have been eliminated.
  • Academic Affairs eliminated one secretarial line in FY '01 and will be eliminating three additional secretarial lines in FY '02.
  • Academic Affairs eliminated the Locker Room Assistant in HPE.
  • Reduced the number of Department Chairs by 7 (Math, College of Business, 5 at College of Technology)

College of Agriculture

  • Restructuring and combining departments has resulted in direct administrative savings (i.e., Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology; Land Resources and Environmental Sciences; Animal and Range Sciences).
  • Review and revision of departmental curricula has resulted in a 36% increase in student enrollment (552 undergraduates in 1991 compared with 749 undergraduates in 2000).
  • Faculty split appointments (teaching/research/extension) have resulted in enhanced expertise in the classroom and reduced the number of faculty with 1.0 FTE teaching appointments.
  •  Faculty use of Web based resources in the classroom has decreased supply and labor costs.
  •  Shared-use of research equipment for teaching laboratories has decreased instructional laboratory equipment costs.
  •  Most teaching laboratories are taught by professors reducing the cost of GTAs.
  •  College of Agriculture faculty are teaching genetics and general biology and thus, reducing instructional costs in the College of Letters and Science.
  •  Multiple courses are team taught across units and Colleges reducing costs of duplicative faculty hires.
  •  Some faculty hold joint appointments across units and/or Colleges; again, reducing costs of duplicative faculty hires.

College of Business

  • Administration/Staff The elimination of department heads within the College of Business took out one layer of administration. The current administrative structure with Dean, Associate Dean and Assistant Dean is a highly efficient structure. All management and administrative duties to support graduate and undergraduate programs for approximately 1,100 majors and over 40 faculty members are handled effectively by the current administration. Similarly, the staff of five full-time administrative assistants represents significant streamlining of support functions. The use of computer-based technologies has allowed the college to eliminate one part-time staff position within the past three years.
  • Faculty Resources In light of the significant salary differential, which exists between MSU salaries and national market averages in business, the college administration is soliciting donor contributions towards faculty endowments that support faculty scholarly activities. The college is eager to attract and retain national caliber faculty who are capable of building the scholarly reputation of the college. Typically, comparable colleges of business provide up to 2/9 academic year salary for summer research, continuous upgrades for office and home computers, as well as national and international travel funds. The limited state funds available to the college are not sufficient to meet these scholarly needs, hence the college administration is working to supplement state resources with private funds. In the most recent fiscal year the college administration raised over $500,000 in endowed funds specifically to support faculty scholarship.
  • Curriculum The curriculum of the undergraduate program within the college has been designed specifically to provide the optimal student educational experience, while, efficiently utilizing college resources. The curriculum includes freshman and senior level seminars, which provide for the transition from high school to the university, and for the transition from the university to the professional business world. These seminar courses facilitate personal interaction for students in classes of 15 students. At the sophomore level classes are increased to a capacity of 45 students, 35 at the junior level, and 25 at the senior level, to provide a high quality educational experience. This thoughtfully designed curriculum gives students the very best experience possible while efficiently using college resources.

 Efficient forecasting and enrollment management processes also are used to fill the college classes to the designed capacity. Providing access to college classes for majors and non-majors is carefully managed to efficiently utilize the classroom capacity which is available to the college. Course capacity utilization is summarized below.

Course Level

Total Capacity

Total Enrolled

% Utilization

100 Level




200 Level




300 Level




400 Level









The 95.51% utilization of available course capacity suggests that the college is very effective in scheduling courses such that students are able to get the courses they need, while, simultaneously maximizing the utilization of precious instructional resources.

College of Education, Health and Human Development

  • The departments within the CEHHD have been reviewing their course scheduling and enrollment histories, and making adjustments that blend student needs with maximum class enrollments. Course scheduling efficiency is ensuring the most effective use of the Colleges instructional resources.
  • Departments have eliminated and/or combined programs to make the most efficient use of instructional resources and to ensure reasonable enrollment in programs.
  • Programs within the College have emphasized cross-disciplinary course offerings leading to reduced duplication of courses, effective use of instructional personnel and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • The administrative and support staffing of the College is well below levels recommended in the Universitys 1996 review of the College of Education, Health and Human Development. Faculty and staff participation in the governance of the College has enabled the unit to function below recommended administrative and support staffing levels.
  •  The teaching loads of faculty in the CEHHD are higher than the campus average resulting in very low comparative costs per credit hour produced. For example, the cost per credit hour production in the Department of Health and Human Development is less than undergraduate tuition for one credit hour.
  • Departments within the College and the Deans Office have practiced cost saving measures for many years. These budget centers have contained costs of duplication, travel, professional development, etc. to the extent that additional cost saving measures will marginalize quality and seriously jeopardize morale in the College.

College of Engineering

  • Elimination of the EEET (Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technology) major due to chronically declining enrollments. This has allowed the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to focus efforts and re-allocate staff and financial resources to other majors within their department.
  • Combining of the Industrial & Management Engineering department with the Mechanical Engineering department to form the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (M&IE) department. Savings have been realized by restructuring the department to include one department head assisted by a program director, instead of two department heads. In addition, the elimination of the minor in Industrial and Management Engineering resulted in similar benefits recognized from the elimination of EEET.

College of Nursing

Energy Conservation

  • Replaced one-half of the working light bulbs in some offices with dead bulbs (reduces glare as well as saving electricity).
  • Reduced water flow in toilets.
  • Discouraged high broadband usage of network (e.g. streaming audio/video).
  • Placed sticker requesting lights off when room is vacant by each light switch.
  • College of Nursing policy to set thermostats no higher than 65 degrees.
  • Recycle aluminum cans and newspaper.

 Budget Reductions

  • Reduced administration by one FTE in 1997 (eliminated Assistant Dean position).
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator position changed from 1.0 FTE to 0.40 FTE.
  • Operate with a one-deep personnel philosophy, no redundancy in positions.
  • Ten faculty being trained in Web CT in order to teach statewide graduate program using internet and decreasing the use of interactive video.
  • Decreased face-to-face meetings from three to two in graduate program.
  • Increased use of an audio conference bridge to reduce/eliminate face-to-face committee meetings.
  • Asked faculty to share rooms or pay the difference in cost of a single versus half a double in hotel rooms.
  • Limited the number of cars from off-campus reimbursed for travel for face-to-face meetings in Bozeman.
  • Tight control over personal telephone calls and faxes.
  • Close monitoring of purchases.
  • Reduced or eliminated purchases of optional office supplies (e.g. mechanical pencils).
  • Controlled distribution of necessary office supplies (more heavily used items kept under lock and key, grants buy their own when possible, etc.).
  • Policy of repairing rather than replacing when more cost effective.

MSU-Billings Career Services/Co-Op Education

  • 1.75 FTE state-funded positions have been eliminated requiring the staff to take on additional duties and services to be reduced.
  • Standardized regional testing service was eliminated.

MSU-Billings College of Technology

  • Increase in student FTE without corresponding increase in base budget.
  • Increase in program offerings without a substantial increase in based budget.
  • Front line employees have become generalists instead of specialists.
  • Employees are encouraged to think of "new ways of doing business" and cost savings methods.
  • Decreased summer hours in Library.
  • Use of Library Clerk rather than a Librarian.

 Graduate School

  • Developed a more efficient process for working with departments and faculty who desire to initiate new graduate degrees or programs.
    • Initial meeting is held with the Dean of Graduate Studies and the faculty involved for the express purpose of encouraging or discouraging the expenditure of more time on the project. The following information is gathered:
      • how the degree/program fits within the MSU strategic plan
      • the data that have been gathered to support need
      • the data that support how sustainable the degree or program is in the long term
      • the data that indicate current and needed resources that will support the degree or program.
  • Approval of project Dean of Graduate Studies
    • The College of Graduate Studies (CGS)
      • supplies the faculty with examples of successful proposals
      • does a cost/income analysis using data supplied by the proposing faculty
      • serves as an editor for the proposal as it is developed.
      • Board of Regents Submission Item and the final draft of the proposal is usually prepared in the CGS office and sent to the Graduate Council.
  • Approval by the Graduate Council
    • CGS moves the proposal to the Board of Regents.
  • Advantages to this process:
    • has reduced the time and effort required by faculty to prepare proposals
    • has allowed the CGS to predict the financial impact of and be fully involved in developing new programs
    • has significantly reduced the time needed to complete the submission of proposals.

MSU-Billings Graduate School

  • Previously, we had a full-time director in charge of Graduate Studies. We now have new graduate programs across campus and this position has been eliminated. The Dean of the College of Education has taken over the duties of the director of Graduate Studies.

International Programs

  • Established innovative, nationally recognized Arabic language program offered in Bozeman and Missoula. The program utilizes distance education technologies and a partnership with the University of Washington to expand foreign language offerings without the expense of a faculty line. The model offers the potential to expand foreign language offerings throughout the Montana higher education system on a cost-effective basis. Hardware purchased through the Arabic language project will also allow for cheaper interactivity between MSU and UM for other distance education courses.
  • Offer study abroad programs and advising services regarding study abroad to other campuses within the MSU and Montana higher education systems, decreasing the need for individual campuses to develop these programs and services.
  • Provide technical support regarding U.S. immigration requirements relating to hiring foreign personnel to campuses within the MSU system, eliminating the need for developing such expertise on each campus.
  • Expanded MSU Bozemans Exchange Visitor Designation with the U.S. State Department to provide visa authorization documents for visiting foreign students and scholars to other campuses in the MSU system, eliminating the need for the other campuses to seek or administer their own designations.
  • Developed extensive Web-based information services regarding study abroad, immigration, etc., for the convenience of our faculty, staff, and students, and as a measure to save staff time.
  • The Billings campus is developing an International Studies program. Bozeman has been extremely helpful in sharing their policies, procedures, and expertise in this area.

MSU Libraries

  • Direct financial savings to the campuses have resulted when vendors provide discounts for large quantity purchases.
  • The advantage of having one person handle acquisitions and licensing negotiations who is an expert on purchasing processes has resulted in significant savings and efficiencies.
  • Larger and more diverse holdings are available to students throughout the MSU campuses, especially in the electronic realm.
  • Staff sharing of expertise/training among MSU libraries results in efficiencies and heightened effectiveness and teamwork.
  • Monthly conference calls or meetings of senior librarians from each campus provides for planning/problem solving.
  • Central management of Integrated Library System (SIRSI) at Bozeman unburdens other campuses and is more efficient.
  • Renovation of Renne Library will provide substantial electricity savings (lighting) and reduce annual insurance premiums (sprinkler system installation).
  • Creation of the Information Commons in the Library has provided 85 computers for student use and a hands-on library classroom available for student use whenever the Library is open. This has resulted in cost efficiencies in staffing and building operation, as the Library Building is the building open for the most hours of student access. Cooperation between the Library and Information Technology has resulted in shared use and operation of equipment such as color printers and scanners.
  • Direct financial savings to the campuses have resulted when vendors provide discounts for large quantity purchases for the MSU Libraries.
  • Major licensing and purchasing of electronic products for the MSU Libraries has been done by one person who is an expert in this area of purchasing, resulting in significant savings and efficiencies.