NWCCU MSU Billings Self-Study Report
Standard 1 - Institutional Mission, Goals, Planning & Effectiveness
Grounded in concepts of teaching and service excellence, and founded as an institution of higher education to provide unique student-learning pportunities, MSU Billings continues to reinforce its position as an innovative and effective university. The University’s academic and service mission, its planning and its effectiveness continue to be integral to the larger community.
Founded in 1927 as a normal school to prepare teachers for the vast reaches
of Eastern Montana, MSU Billings has grown to include six colleges — College
of Allied Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business,
College of Education, College of Technology and College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning. Until 1994, the institution was named Eastern Montana College and was one of 14 independent units of the Montana University System. These included two universities (U of M in Missoula and MSU in Bozeman), a school of mines (Montana Tech in Butte), three colleges (Eastern, Western, and Northern Montana Colleges in Billings, Dillon and Havre, respectively), three community colleges (Flathead Valley in Kalispell; Dawson in Glendive; and Miles City in Miles City) and five two-year vo-tech institutions (Missoula, Helena, Butte, Great Falls and Billings). In 1994, the Montana University System reorganized in order to improve efficiency throughout the system. Eastern Montana College became Montana State University Billings and joined the MSU side of the state system with Montana State University in Bozeman as the lead institution. MSU Northern and the College of Technology in Great Falls are members of the MSU cluster of campuses. The Billings vocational-technical unit became the College of Technology within MSU Billings. The three community colleges retained independence in the overall MUS system.
Standard One- Summary & Analysis
MSU Billings maintains a commitment to undergraduate, graduate and two-year higher education. Because of that, the University uses the Continuous Quality Improvement process to assess and modify its mission and goals to ensure a highquality student learning experience.
A review by various University constituencies of the MSU Billings mission statement posted on the Montana Board of Regents (BOR) website pointed to the need for revision. The posted statement had grown to include University strategic initiatives in a two-page document and the statement reflected neither institutional goals nor current higher education realities. Mission statement revision was a two-year process involving numerous drafts resulting from University and community response. The current Mission Document includes a statement of the Core Purpose of the institution, Core Values, Vision for the future and Strategic Initiatives. Each University division — Academic, Administrative, and Student — has aligned the division Master Plan with the University Strategic Initiatives. Each division conducts a self-evaluation annually and reports progress on its Master Plan through an Annual Report submitted to the appropriate Vice Chancellor/Division Director.
- MSU Billings carries forward the MUS mission, vision and strategic plan through its mission as a regional comprehensive institution.
- Serving its regional constituencies remains a priority for MSU Billings faculty, staff and administration. All units aligned themselves with the evolving University Strategic Initiatives. All have participated with required annual reports.
- The MSU Billings community recognizes its purpose in the immediate community and for the greater eastern third of Montana. University services goes beyond post secondary education to include dual credit and connections courses for high school students.
- MSU Billings has strong, highly qualified staff, faculty and administrators who provide student-oriented leadership, service and excellent teaching.
- MSU Billings continues to enjoy wide community support, demonstrated through engaged advisory boards and the People, Pride and Promise campaign, successful beyond expectations. Since the last comprehensive accreditation review, community support is strong and growing stronger.
- Being “comprehensive” is a challenge. Determining what the University can and should do, maintain, delete and/or initiate remains a challenge due to increasing inflation and decreasing regional high school graduates.
- Recruiting and retaining quality administrators, faculty and staff in a state notorious for a lower than national average per capita income remains a struggle.
- Maintaining balance between state general fund allocations and student tuition is an ongoing challenge. This balance is important because of the financial implications for in-state students who pay Montana taxes but still incur considerable debt to pay for their postsecondary educations.
- MSU Billings continues to work on the balance between maintaining the strength of on-site programs while anticipating future demands of changing demographics, especially as it relates to online delivery to serve all learners.
- While student headcount numbers rise at the University, many of those students are taking classes on a part-time basis. Whether on an FTE basis or a base budget model, funding presents challenges at all areas of the University, from student services to administrative services.
- Increasing costs of providing quality education — from energy costs to housing costs to service costs for student affairs — are concerns locally and throughout the Montana University System.
- Changing demographics in Montana — an aging population and an overall decline in high school graduates — need to be addressed.
Standard 1 Breakdown