Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education



March 21, 2002


Montana State University-Northern,

Havre, MT


NOTICE � the Board may make decisions on items during the Work Session




a.�������� Restructuring Update


b.�������� Information for Board Decision Making: Regent Roehm


The purpose of this agenda item is to propose a more appropriate method for Board members to obtain information from staff related to proposed policy changes or to develop data for new proposed policies.�


The increasing complexity of our role as board members and growing demands on our academic institutions makes it essential that appropriate staff support facilitate the business of our governing board.  We need current and appropriate data and expert opinion from our senior staff and guidance so as to properly develop our suggestions.  The current process we follow suffers, in my opinion, from three flaws.  First, we tend to individually pursue information from senior staff.  This produces pockets of deep knowledge in the board and tends to exclude others.  If the information is valuable, then it follows that all board members should receive the information. A board's collective responsibility assumes equal access to information by all members.  No one should be left out of the loop.�


Second, we task our Commissioner with goals and objectives at the beginning� of his reporting period, and he, in turn, establishes priorities for his staff and adjusts their workload to accomplish these goals.  A request for information from individual board members usually means that priorities established must be set aside by staff and top priority given to a board member's request.  Since we are only one-deep in all key staff positions, the usual response is that goals and priorities the board has established

are set aside to support one member.  While one member may not cause an overwhelming diversion in our efforts to accomplish goals, if all seven of us individually asked staff to pursue our separate interests, we could become dysfunctional.


Third, we should follow the dictum that as individual board members, we have no authority to direct or order activities, especially to the staff.� Collectively and properly assembled, we have "full power, responsibility, and authority to supervise, coordinate, manage, and control the Montana University System."  As much as possible, we should act collectively as a board, not individually.


To correct the above flaws, I propose that all significant requests for information from board members to staff be first aired as agenda items in our Work Session.  The information requests or proposals would receive an informal hearing from all members at the work session and appropriate direction and priority would be given from the board to the Commissioner who could then appropriately manage the work time of his staff.  As information is developed, all members would be equally advised, and staff would not be placed in the awkward position of deciding which project had greater demands on their time.  The key word in the above proposal is "significant," in that we should not discourage casual or short term conversations between board members and staff which do not involve large expenditures of time or considerable diversion from their work� assignments.  I further propose that the Board Chair, in consultation with the Commissioner, make the determination as to what is "significant."


In addition, The Board Chair and Commissioner can jointly determine that a request for information is sufficiently consistent with board goals and is worthy of more immediate action.  This process could then begin to develop the information for the whole board prior to a work session discussion and would avoid what could be a four to eight week delay.


Should the board endorse some or all of this proposal, I suggest the Commissioner develop a written process that reflects board desires.


c.�������� Continuation of preparation for the upcoming Legislative Session:� Regent Semmens


d.�������� Appeals PolicyDiscussion and Suggestions � LeRoy Schramm


e.��������� Possible Revision of Policy 802.6 Salaries; Presidents and Chancellors: Regent Jasmin


f.��������� Dash Board Reports (update on status of project):� Regent Jasmin


g.�������� Strategic Plan � Discussion:� Regent Semmens




a.�������� Perceived Challenges and Questions:� Regent Hur



b.�������� Mus Open Meeting Proposal:� Regent Hur


The Montana University System is "owned," in the literal sense, by the people of Montana.

The officials of the Montana University System will only close meetings to discuss labor strategy, litigation and/or personnel matters.


Any Montana University System meeting attended by at least one member of the Montana Board of Regents, as defined in the Constitution of Montana, Article X, Section 9, 2(a); and/or the commissioner of higher education shall be considered �open� according to the State of Montana�s open meeting laws.� Members of the press and general public will be notified by staff of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, in accordance with precedent; regarding the date, time, and nature of the subject meeting.