Standard 2.A.1 - Faculty Expertise
The University capitalizes on the expertise of 155 full-time faculty, of whom 108 have doctorates and others have master’s degrees/appropriate degrees to offer its educational programs. Instructional facilities are designed, maintained and managed on the East (main), West (College of Technology) and Downtown Campuses to provide safe learning environments for the University community. More than 50% of the University’s budget is dedicated to support instructional programs.
Full-time tenure-track faculty on the East Campus carry a load of 24 credits per academic year (AY) with three of those credits reassigned for scholarly development and contribution and service to the University and to the public. Class sizes vary widely from a lower division (LD) minimum of 20 students and upper division (UD) minimum of 15 students to the graduate (Grad) minimum of nine students per course section. MSU Billings’ average student-to-faculty ratio of 22 students per faculty makes MSU Billings one of the most efficient units in the university system.
Full-time faculty workloads at the West Campus (College of Technology) are 30 credits per academic year, distributed among the primary responsibilities of instructional service, college and community service, scholarly activity and professional development. Renewable non-tenure-track faculty teach from 22.5 credits to 30 credits per year. Class sizes vary widely among various programs. Average student-to-faculty ratio is 17.11 students per faculty.
The provision of adequate human, physical, and financial resources to support excellence in instruction and student achievement is felt by faculty as the institution’s greatest challenge. Some variables affecting this area are beyond the University’s control: annual program reviews identify budgetary constraints on the provision of Access and Excellence. Until recently, the Montana University System was funded on a resident student full-time-equivalent (FTE) basis. This funding formula challenged MSU Billings in its efforts to maintain program quality, increase effectiveness and insure efficiency because of the increasing student headcounts in proportion to student FTE and the consistently and increasingly non-traditional approach to higher education by the student population. There was little flexibility for the University to address faculty concerns via traditional funding sources — legislative appropriations and student tuition/fees. Recognizing the challenge for all units of the MUS presented by an FTE driven model, OCHE and the BOR have proposed the current funding model, based on the current base budget, with inflation factors, the state pay plan and new initiatives added. A base budget model has provided greater stability in terms of evaluation, planning and internal resource allocation than was possible with the previous student FTE model.
MSU Billings continues to be an integral part of the Billings community with its student-centered learning environment. With strong support from the community, the University continues to nurture a longstanding tradition of educational access, teaching excellence, civic engagement and community enhancement in an urban setting as evidenced by the successful 2007 monumental $30 million capital campaign that has resulted in new endowments, increases in scholarship awards and funding for faculty development, research and scholarly activities, support for Graduate Studies, International Studies, Civic Engagement, , Service Learning, Instructional Innovation Technology, Diversity Initiatives, the University Honors Program, and the Cooperative Education program.
Faculty expressed satisfaction with teaching and interacting with students in the spring 2007 Employee Morale Survey and dissatisfaction with funding for professional travel and research. The Research and Creative Endeavor (RACE) internal competitive funding increased four-fold in the last five years, and the 2007-2008 RACE funds were significantly higher than the previous years.
- Faculty 4.1 Faculty Characteristics
- 4.2/Table 4.1 Faculty Profiles and Table
- 4.2 Number and Source of Terminal Degrees
- Standard 8 Physical Resources Required Documents;
- Required Exhibits;
- Additional Materials
- 7.3/Table 7.3 Summary Report of Revenues and Expenditures.
- Surveys 1.7 Employee Surveys.
- 2.23 Race Grant History
MSU Billings defines its instructional niche in the higher education market through core values that dictate its mission, direct its vision and drive the University strategic initiatives. Programs and courses offered by the University are provided in face-to-face and asynchronous, online learning formats. In order to earn one semester credit, a minimum of 12.5 hours, or 750 minutes, of seat time are required. As the emergence of asynchronous, online learning continues, outcomes assessment is more useful than seat time in determining student learning.
Design, approval, and implementation of the curriculum are vested in the faculty through department, College, and Academic Senate. The Academic Senate is the governing body for curricular change. Procedures for new programs, programmatic changes and other modifications start at the departmental level.
All programs submit annual reports as part of the University Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process. Program review includes three major areas — program objectives for student performance outcomes, faculty and student data and program alignment with state/national standards. In addition, the Montana Board of Regents (BOR) has mandated a seven-year cyclic review of all programs with focus on numbers of program majors and annual rolling averages of graduates.
- 1.1 Mission Document
- 6.9 By-laws of Faculty/Staff Organizations
- 1.2 Annual Reports
- 6.4 BOR Policies and Procedures Manual
The 2007-2009 General Bulletin is the most comprehensive of all student publications while the Graduate Catalog and COT General Catalog focus on specific audiences. Each contains definitions of credit, grading, audit procedures, and the appeal policy process, all of which comply with NWCCU guidelines. The criteria for awarding credit also are consistent with BOR policy; see http://mus.edu/borpol/bor300/3091.htm. One semester credit is equal to 12.5 hours, or 750 minutes, of seat time.
Faculty in appropriate departments use clearly stated criteria for evaluating student performance and achievement, including those for theses, dissertations, and portfolios, as appropriate to the degree level. The 2006-2008 Graduate Catalog has a clearly stated policy for thesis development; the desired outcome is a studentproduced paper worthy of publication in a professional journal.
Academic program learning outcomes (objectives), standards and requirements can be found in the 2007-2009 General Bulletin. A detailed Plan of Study/Advising worksheet that reflects a coherent design for each program is found on the MSU Billings website. The Advising Worksheets for different programs and information regarding Academic Foundations requirements are given to all new, transfer, and returning students who meet with an academic advisor in the Advising Center. The Advising Center assists students in designing an academic plan to complete the program requirements as efficiently as possible. After the initial academic planning has been completed, students work with faculty advisors for the planning of upper-division coursework and ongoing mentoring. It should also be noted that COT students begin working with faculty advisors after their initial semester or entrance into competitive programs.
The syllabi for individual courses in each discipline list the learning outcomes and their assessment methods. Syllabi are given or electronically provided to students during the first week of classes. Samples are found on the faculty web pages on the university website. Synthesis of learning is accomplished by capstone experience appropriate to each program. For example, Senior Exhibition, Portfolio and Artists Statements are used by the Art Department, while internships, senior thesis and research are used by other programs. The diversity of methods used in synthesis of learning and assessment is displayed in Assessment Matrix as Exhibit 2.38.
A listing of relevant accreditation organizations and related programs may be found as Exhibit 2.42.
Professional accreditation for eligible programs at MSU Billings, either obtained or pending, provides one indicator of program standards. Complete accreditation reports are available in hard copy in the resource room.
Since the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities’ last comprehensive review of MSU Billings 10 years ago, all professional programs have had accreditation visits and been approved for the appropriate interval before the next review is scheduled. In addition, all programs that do not have professional accreditation agencies have also been reviewed under an annual internal program review process.
Academic departments and programs undergo a program review either in conjunction with disciplinary or professional accreditation, or on a schedule established by the University for the Board of Regents’ seven-year cyclic review.
Effective integration of library resources and practices is advanced by representation of librarians on the Provost Council, Academic Foundations Committee, Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and Graduate Council, covering both undergraduate and graduate education. In turn, faculty from each college are represented on the University Library Committee. Also, librarians are assigned to act as liaisons with academic units.
Courses are scheduled through a central scheduling process as follows:
- Academic year (fall/spring) course scheduling is done one year in advance by using a database designed by Information Technology. In consultation with the Office of the Registrar, Information Technology Programming Staff, and the Office of the Provost, timelines for data entry are proposed and approved by the Provost Council.
- During the Summer Term courses are proposed by faculty and approved by the Dean and costs must remain within each college’s summer allocation. The Director of the Summer Term maintains additional monies to fund special requests for courses that are in high demand or needed by a specific is considered. The summer schedule is prepared to be ready for student viewing in January and registration in February.
- The database is made available for administrative support, department chairs, and administrative personnel who have attended a training session and been given permission by the systems administrator.
- For greater efficiency, course schedules from the previous year reflecting the up-to-date changes approved via curricular processes (curriculum committees, Academic Senate, Provost and Chancellor) are rolled directly from Banner.
- Course scheduling is open for a set period of time to allow additions, time and day of the week alterations, deletions of courses, or changes in instructors, room assignments, or room attribute requirements. The functionality of the database allows ability to schedule by building and view room conflicts, previous term schedules, or cancelled classes.
- Many academic units have priority scheduling for certain spaces because of equipment, lab, or design needs.
- After the open scheduling period, the Office of the Registrar verifies all data and corresponds with departments to solve conflicts or handle special situations.
- Changes, modifications, and updates to the course schedule once the academic year process is finalized and viewable on the web for students, staff, faculty, and the general public take place in a secondary database specifically designed for day-to-day changes in the course schedule. Certain restrictions and requests made once registration has been opened for a term require signature authority, and those requests still come in from the departments on paper for processing in the Office of the Registrar.
- Updates are made to the catalog level of Banner and the schedule level of banner as academic curricular changes migrate through the appropriate channels. Communication among the Office of the Registrar, the Office of the Provost, and Academic Senate are paramount.
Degree designators are assigned corresponding to the breadth and depth of information presented or required for admission. Academic Foundations (general education) requirements for both Associate and Bachelor degree programs are 37 credits from five areas.
The Associate of Applied Science degree requires fewer general education credits. Associate degree programs comprise 72 credits and can be completed in two years of full-time enrollment.
Bachelor degrees comprise 120 to 128 credits. Four-year plans-of-study are outlined for all majors in the General Bulletin, although MSU Billings students typically take five to six years to complete an undergraduate degree.
Graduate programs vary in number of credits required. Those that include professional licensure plus the graduate degree require more credits than the graduate degree alone. Graduate programs require cohesive plans-of-study with enough flexibility to reflect graduate students’ individual interests and professional goals.
Certificate of Applied Science programs are designed to prepare students for immediate employment. This is a shorter program of study (30 to 41 total credits) with the expectation that the certificate can be completed in one calendar year.
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog
- 2.38 Capstone Projects in EVST
- 2.42 List of Relevant Accreditations
Degree designators are assigned corresponding to the breadth and depth of
information presented or required for admission. All undergraduate programs (AA, AS, BA, BAS and BS) contain an Academic Foundations component that comprises about 60% of the required degree credits for AA and AS degrees and 30% of the total required credits for the Bachelor’s degrees. The Associate of Applied Science degrees require fewer general education credits. These require 72 credits generally taken over a two-year plan of study. Bachelor’s degrees have four-year plans-ofstudy outlined in the General Bulletin; however, students typically take less than a full load of coursework and require five to six years for degree completion.
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog
The University does not offer programs in a concentrated time-frame. Courses may be offered in concentrated or abbreviated time frames such as intersession, summer or weekend formats. However, neither contact time nor expected student outcomes are compromised because of the length of the term.
Intersession courses offer the same contact hours per credit as do other courses, although the time frames in which they are offered may be differently organized and condensed. For example, a one-credit course has been offered in six days divided between one or two pre-Christmas sessions and one or two weeks of classes following the New Year. Courses that require intense/lengthy reading assignments, research or lab time are generally not offered during Intersession. Since its inception in 1996, the nature of courses offered, the student course assessments and student outcomes have been monitored. Student response has been positive, and many University staff have taken advantage of the compressed time-frame to enroll in courses. Intersession reviews reveal that this format is less than cost effective or sustainable. Faculty may opt to teach for extra compensation or as part of their spring load. If the latter, a part-time instructor may be needed to teach a regularly scheduled course. Students may choose to take an Intersession course in the University flat spot — 12 to 18 credits for the same tuition and fee cost — in lieu of enrolling full time (for 9-12 credits) during Spring Semester. Small Intersession course enrollments and lower student FTE during regularly scheduled spring courses have not fully funded the extra compensation for faculty or part-time instructors. In addition, several courses that were piloted during initial Intersessions were not suitable for a condensed time-frame and were not offered in subsequent years. Diminishing student interest in face-to-face Intersession courses over time has resulted in fewer offerings. In 2007, a few eight -week long online courses were piloted that were well received. The University plans to continue this format for the benefit of students.
- 2.24 Course Schedules
- 7.3/Table 7.3 Summary Report of Revenues and Expenditures
Programs and courses offered by the University are provided in face-to-face, hybrid and asynchronous learning formats. In order to earn one semester credit, a minimum of 12.5 hours, or 750 minutes, of seat time are required. As the emergence of asynchronous distance learning continues, outcome assessment is likely to be more useful than seat time in determining student learning.
Tuition and fees are set and/or approved by Board of Regents policy for each campus within the Montana University System. Some programs may have additional student fees attached, but such fees address specific laboratory or material needs for the programs affected.
Evidence: 7.17 Tuition and Fee Schedule
Design, approval, and implementation of the curriculum are vested in the faculty through department, College, and Academic Senate. The Academic Senate is the recommending body for curricular change. Procedures for new programs, programmatic changes and other modifications are as follows:
All changes start at the departmental level.
When the faculty members and department chairs involved have approved the initial proposal, it is forwarded to the Curriculum Committee of the appropriate College.
Following approval by the College Curriculum Committee, the proposal moves forward to either the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (for undergraduate courses) or the Graduate Committee (for graduate level courses). Any course proposed for the Academic Foundations Program is reviewed by the Academic Foundations Committee. The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the Academic Foundations Committee and the Graduate Committee are all standing subcommittees of the Academic Senate.
When the proposed curricular modification has passed the Academic Foundations Committee or Undergraduate Curriculum/Graduate Committee of the Academic Senate, it proceeds to the full Senate for approval.
From the Academic Senate, proposals with any changes from previous review
committees return to the originating department for approval or challenge.
When approved, proposals are forwarded to the Academic Vice Chancellor/
Provost and from that office to the Chancellor.
Once signed by the Chancellor, the proposed program or change is forwarded to the President of MSU Bozeman, and thence to the Board of Regents for finalapproval. This process typically takes anywhere from a minimum of three weeks to a maximum of three or four months or longer depending upon the many possible intervening variables — concerns with the program or modification, absence of key signatories, academic year breaks, the Board of Regents schedule, etc.
Programs to be incubated in the College of Professional Studies and Life Long Learning also follow the same guidelines as above. The Dean of CPSLL in collaboration with faculty from respective colleges takes forward the proposal to the appropriate Curriculum Committee.
- 1.1 Mission Document;
- 6.9 By-laws of Faculty/Staff Organizations;
- 1.2 Annual Reports;
- 6.4 BOR Policies and Procedures Manual (http://mus.edu/ borpol/default.asp)
Faculty in the six colleges work with library and information resources personnel to ensure that students learn research techniques, information retrieval skills and methods to evaluate information and assimilate data. Library and information resource skills are taught by library staff as an integral part of coursework in the academic departments.
Beginning with Return to Learn and Upward Bound readiness courses, instruction in library skills is tailored to the appropriate level of familiarity and sophistication. English composition, writing and communication courses include the greatest exposure to basic library and information resources. Courses in specific subject areas, such as art, management, or special education, receive library instruction suited to the needs and level of the coursework. Library instruction is offered in the library classroom, where there is opportunity for online demos and hands-on practice. For large classes, the librarian may use online connections and digital projectors to show search techniques in real time.
Faculty are responsible for requesting library instruction for their classes. Some departments, such as English and Philosophy, request more library instruction than non-literature-based areas such as mathematics. Library personnel work with faculty in the academic departments to prepare appropriate assignments ensuring that students use a wide variety of information resources.
Library holdings on both East and West Campuses are selected to support the curriculum, and keeping resources updated is a high priority. Increasingly, journals and online resources are the most crucial materials needed to remain current. Books are still the medium of choice for background information and historical and literary treatments of any subject.
As of fall 1997, the four units of the Montana State University (MSU) system — Billings, Bozeman, Havre, and Great Falls — implemented an agreement to provide stronger links among the institutions, to streamline access for students and faculty, and to achieve economies of scale in purchasing and licensing resources. As the MSU Libraries, the group has migrated to a new shared library system for its bibliographic database (or catalog), circulation and technical services functions. The SIRS Researcher system offers faculty and students greatly expanded access to a wide variety of information resources.
Information technology has enabled the libraries to provide more materials and information in a more timely fashion than ever before. Internet connectivity, web-based indexes, full-text articles and government data online all allow students and faculty access regardless of their location. The Information Commons located in the library facilitates this access for all members of the University community.
Library resources available on both East and West Campuses are a key consideration when new programs and courses are proposed. Faculty work with the Director of Library Services and library faculty to identify and provide access to needed materials. Faculty and library personnel have pursued grants to supplement areas of the collection that need strengthening and to support electronic linkages and the formation of library consortia. Recent proposals have added materials in modern poetry and literature; Japanese literature, art, and culture; and the history of the Northern Plains.
The MSU Billings Library has developed consortium and cooperative arrangements with other libraries throughout the State which have expanded the nature and quantity of materials available to students and faculty.
Evidence: Standard Five Exhibits
Curricula within each College and department vary, but all are organized with designated student learning outcomes. Course sequences address the attainment of those outcomes. With CQI and implementation of Annual Reports, all programs review program objectives annually. Student achievement of outcomes is measured in ways appropriate for the outcome and linked to the University’s learning assessment system. The College of Technology measures student performance through competency-based instruction and national or regional certification examinations.
All six colleges of the University make efforts to ensure that course scheduling provides students with schedule and course delivery format options. This is an area which has been continually assessed by the faculty and the Registrar, since our student demographics make accessible scheduling fairly challenging. MSU Billings has a high percentage of students who enroll part time, work full time and have personal obligations. These factors make it difficult for students to attend classes on campus according to a traditional schedule.
- 3.2 Student Demographics
- 2.24 Course Schedules
Credit for prior experiential learning is awarded in accordance with Policy 2.3 Credit for Prior Experiential Learning.
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog
Procedures to eliminate or change program requirements are processed through the same set of committee approvals as are program additions. A document is prepared proposing the change or elimination, including figures on program enrollment and resources, a five-year plan for program phase-out, and a two-year staffing plan. The plan to eliminate the program must be presented two to three years prior to its elimination from the General Bulletin. The Academic Senate by-laws describe this process. In addition to these internal policies, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE) has published a separate document on program modifications, eliminations, or new programs. Modifications, additions, and eliminations go through all the above-described steps, including approval by the Chancellor. Following this protocol, the University submits a letter of intent to the President of MSU Bozeman, who forwards it to the Board of Regents. Any concerns expressed by MSU Bozeman are addressed before submitting a full proposal to the BOR for review.
- 2.9 Governance Flow Chart
- 6.9 Committee By-laws
- 6.4 BOR Policies and Procedures Manual (http://mus.edu/borpol/default.asp)
Policies and procedures for program elimination or significant change in
requirements are processed in accordance with Board of Regents Policy 303.4
through the same set of committee approvals as are program additions.
- 2.1 Governance Flow Chart
- 6.9 Committee By-laws
- 6.4 BOR Policies and Procedures Manual (http://mus.edu/borpol/default.asp)