TO: Montana Board of Regents

FROM: Kevin McRae, Director, Labor Relations and Human Resources

RE: Approval of Tentative Agreement with The University of Montana-Western Faculty Association, Local 4323, MEA-MFT, NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO

DATE: September 21-23, 2005

Attached is a summary of the tentative agreement reached with the University of Montana-Western Faculty Association.  This bargaining unit consists of about 50 faculty members at the University of Montana-Western. The union-ratified tentative agreement includes revisions to the prior agreement.

Revisions include:

  • Wage increases of 3.5 percent and 4.0 percent effective October 1, 2005, and October 1, 2006, respectively.
  • Continuation the Dependent Partial Tuition Waiver.
  • Labor-Management Committee address possible need for new category of faculty (e.g., Lecturer or redefinition of Instructor).
  • Increase available sabbaticals from one to two per year, and increase single semester sabbatical salary to full pay.
  • One-time-only $1250 lump sum to faculty involved in Experience One to recognize efforts and positive impact on enrollment and retention.
  • Additional .75 percent salary increase October 1, 2005, and 1.0 percent on October 1, 2006, tied to continuing efforts and success of Experience One. (See description of faculty efforts below.)

Other revisions were for clarification and/or contract housekeeping.

I recommend approval of the tentative agreement with the University of Montana-Western Faculty Association.

The University of Montana-Western

Description of continuing faculty efforts on Experience One implementation in AY 2005-6

The University of Montana-Western's faculty members have undertaken a major initiative to improve the education of Western's students, improve student success, improve student 4-year graduation rates, and improve student recruitment and retention.  This initiative is termed Experience One scheduling and it allows faculty and students to focus on one course at a time while enhancing opportunities for active experiential learning.

The University of Montana-Western is the first public university to adopt the one-class-at-a-time scheduling model, which was pioneered in the private sector by Colorado College over 30 years ago. The transition to the new approach has resulted in sweeping changes that have required a great deal of additional work on the part of the faculty. To be specific, the model requires faculty to totally re-think the teaching and learning environment, and consider ways to minimize lecture while enhancing project-based learning. Since few faculty members have experience with this approach, the transitional process takes a great deal of additional time and effort on the part of the faculty.

Academic year 2005-6 will be a transitional year where most campus courses will be taught under Experience One for the first time.  Faculty members are putting major efforts into redesigning their courses to take advantage of the extended periods of time and they are receiving training in the methods of experiential teaching and learning. More experienced faculty are assisting those with less experience in these methods and outside trainers are being brought in.  Faculty members are also redesigning their syllabi to reflect the different ways that course outcomes are being achieved and assessed. In addition, faculty are helping to get the word out on this exciting new program by giving presentations to the public, soliciting press coverage and aiding in admissions and recruiting. All this constitutes additional time and effort demands on faculty, warranting recognition in the form of extra pay for academic year 2005-6.

The University of Montana-Western faculty members are proud of their entrepreneurial efforts, and are up to the additional challenges presented by "thinking outside of the box." The faculty members believe that they are making an historic effort to improve the quality of public higher education in this country and they look to the Board of Regents to make this student-centered initiative known across the state and beyond.