Standard 8 -- Physical Resources
As a university with urban characteristics in Montana’s largest city, MSU Billings deals with diverse and sometimes complex facilities needs. All the facilities at MSU Billings — from the information commons at the library to maintenance of student housing to the newest nursing lab at the College of Technology — have positive effects on the student learning experience at the university.
The University provides an accessible, community-centered learning environment, comprised of multiple campuses — the East Campus (85 acres), situated north of Downtown Billings, the recently expanded West Campus at the College of Technology (33.5 acres), about seven miles west of the East Campus, and the MSU Billings Downtown Campus. The East Campus is located just north of the medical and business corridor of Billings and is part of an active and civically aware neighborhood. The campus enjoys use by the community for a variety of events and functions beyond the traditional academic use. The campus buildings and grounds are well-maintained, clean and generally adequate.
The East Campus is the home for the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education and the College of Allied Health Professions. Additionally, the campus hosts student life/housing, the majority of athletic facilities and several tenants such as MSU Bozeman’s Nursing Program, UM Missoula’s Master of Business Administration Program, MSU Northern’s Veterans Upward Bound, UM Butte’s Bureau of Geology, the Urban Institute, Leadership Montana, and the Montana Business Incubator. The University has title to many of the surrounding properties which provide a buffer zone with the residential neighborhoods as well as expansion opportunities as the need arises. Only within the last decade has there been resurgence in investing in the East Campus’ infrastructure.
The West Campus includes the building that prior to the 1994 merger of the Montana University System, was previously the Billings Vocational-Technical Center. The West Campus is home to the majority of two-year programs at the university as well as a new, all-weather state-of-the-art soccer facility. The older building on the West Campus includes a 115,000 square-foot building on 20 acres. With the recent emphasis on two-year education in Montana, the university was able to expand the campus with an additional 13.5 acres and construct the new 50,000 square-foot Health Sciences building. Funding was secured for the building through the 2005 and 2007 Montana Legislatures and was officially dedicated in the spring of 2008.
The Downtown Campus is home for the College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning, a large Conference Center, ITV Services and many support entities. They all reside within three recently renovated buildings in the heart of Downtown Billings.
Summary & Analysis - Strengths
- MSU Billings maintains excellent, easily accessible facilities, all of which contribute to a strong student-centered learning environment and benefit the University’s mission characterized by excellent teaching and service to the community. East, West, and Downtown campuses have well-groomed exteriors and clean interiors, and provide safe learning environments. Facility improvements and additions are also well supported by the community, which understands the value of maintaining the University at high standards.
- In recent years, the University has made major commitments to the following:
- Computer equipment for faculty instruction and for student learning
- A Downtown Campus that serves as a connection between the business community and the University
- Completion of a 50,000 square-foot Health Sciences Building on the West Campus
- Evolution of the West Campus programs and facilities from a College of Technology to a Community College serving the Billings area and preparing students for the rigor of East Campus baccalaureate and graduate programs
- Initiation of a sixth College — the College of Allied Health Professions — that links the medical community with the University
- Through biennial customer surveys regarding facilities and services and through biennial site assessments, Facility Services assures the physical health and safety of the University environment for all constituencies.
- The University provides outstanding facilities, even though some buildings on campus remain in need of attention. The East Campus Science Building in particular has been on the BOR Long-Range Building Plan (LRBP) for some time.
- The Infrastructure Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grant has helped with improvement of infrastructure and research facilities in the East Campus Science Building. However, teaching laboratories are in need of significant upgrades.
- Similarly, offices and some classrooms in the Liberal Arts Building are not conducive to optimal teaching and learning.
- Developing a viable marketing plan for Student Life and Housing will be paramount in the successful reshaping of the infrastructure needs to support our students.
- The University recognizes these limitations, and has invested in the remodeling of several classrooms including the auditorium in the Science Building. A new Science and Technology Center proposed as the University’s No. 1 priority for the LRBP was approved by the BOR at $12 million. The Center is the No. 5 priority within the MUS.
- Meeting the expectations for the Governor’s 20/10 energy conservation plan will require some challenges because the University has already made progress on those areas as it has made facilities and equipment upgrades.