March 17 � 18, 2005


ITEM 126-102-R0305����������������� Academic Program Approval Process


THAT:�������������������������������������� The Board of Regents of Higher Education approves the following academic program approval process for the Montana University System:

(1)           Level I items can be reviewed and approved by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education at every meeting of the Board of Regents except July.

(2)           Level II items can be placed on the submission agenda of of the Board of Regents at the January, March, July and September meetings; those Level II items will move to the action agenda of the Board at the March, May, September or November meetings.


EXPLANATION:����������������������� Because the Board of Regents adopted a new meeting schedule in January 2005, the review and approval process for academic programs must be changed to fit that new schedule.� The chief academic officers have discussed the issue, and recommend the above-described schedule with the following information:

               the proposal does add one more �entry point� each year for Level II proposals.� Under the current academic program approval procedures, most Level II items are placed on the submission agenda in January, May and September.� This proposal would begin the two-meeting review process in January, March, July and September.� The more frequent submission schedule is being requested because of the �November to March� and �May to September� gaps created in the new meeting schedule; and the interest of the Board in keeping Regent business to a minimum at the January and July gatherings.

               Level II submissions could still occur in the slow months of January and July, since the chief academic officers would be the only ones reviewing new academic program proposals at that time.� That review could almost certainly be completed by a conference telephone call.

               the new program approval schedule would still honor the coordinated review process developed with the State Board of Nursing.� That process requires the submission of all new nursing proposals, to both the State Board of Nursing and the Montana Board of Regents, in January and September.� Both of those months are also listed as �submission months� in this item.

               the proposal creates one meeting a year where even academic proposals almost stop.� That meeting is July, where Level II items could be submitted for review by the chief academic officers.� But Level I items would not be processed.

               the intent of the quiet period in July is to give the staff in the Commissioner�s office a modest break, which was one of the rationales behind the new meeting schedule.

               although the proposal does not explicitly say so, the same quiet period would also be attempted for the January meeting.� Level I items would only be processed in a genuine emergency

               the two quiet periods are essential to the functioning of the Board, since the Regents will only meet on an �as needed� basis in January and July, and the academic approval process needs to honor that intent.


The new approval schedule will require more planning and forethought on the part of the institutions that make up the Montana University System, since the academic review and approval process is not spread evenly throughout the year under the new meeting schedule.� The Chief Academic Officers believe that this new process will work, however.