Standard 3.A.1 - Student Services Structure
The MSU Billings Student Affairs Division (SA) provides academic and student support services within the context of the University’s mission, actualizing the mission to “inspire active learning and promote student engagement through Education and Service.” This involves assisting students at both East and West Campuses — and students at a distance — in defining and attaining their educational and personal goals and career objectives. The relationships built with students as individuals foster achievement of the Student Affairs vision: “To be recognized as a national leader for excellence.” Student Affairs accomplishes these tasks through the Student Affairs strategic initiatives.
Staff in Student Affairs, however, work in collaboration across the community, the University and in the Montana University System (MUS) in many successful ways. Faculty and SA staff work together on advising and retention issues to ensure students are maximizing learning opportunities at all levels. The SA staff has built good relationships with the Montana State University Nursing Program in Bozeman and the MBA program at the University of Montana to schedule courses for their programs. Work with School District 2 helped launch a dual credit pilot project in 2007 and a good relationships with area home-schoolers continues. SA staff assisted with hosting evening information sessions for parents, students, and high school staff; set up remote compass tests at the high schools; sent admission counselors to the schools to meet with students during the day; and extended grading deadlines to accommodate the different calendar between the high schools and University. All of those collaborations help build a unique student-centered learning environment at MSU Billings for all constituencies.
In August 2006, a new Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, SA directors and staff, and members of the Associated Students of Montana State University Billings (ASMSUB) established a core set of strategic initiatives for 2007-2012 through ongoing SA team retreats. The seven strategic initiatives align with University Strategic Initiatives and include:
Access and Affordability — Continue to create and implement initiatives to increase access and affordability
Recruitment and Retention — Create, implement and sustain recruitment and retention efforts by delivering quality services, establishing and meeting goals, and collaborating with other divisions, faculty, students and alumni
Service — Improve and personalize the quality of service provided to all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members through integrated and cutting-edge student services
Student Learning — Enhance the learning experience and academic success of all students
Campus Life and Student Development — Support student development by promoting an active, engaging and comprehensive campus life
Diversity — Recruit and retain a diverse student population by creating a campus culture that is inclusive and focused on service and academic excellence
Professional Development and Organizational Infrastructure — Promote an institutional culture that fosters collaboration and mutual respect by implementing staff development and educational opportunities
The organizational structure of Student Affairs encompasses many departments, with all East Campus directors and the West Campus Director for Student Services/ Associate Registrar reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (VCSA). While the current reporting structure creates opportunity for direct communication between directors and VCSA, the VCSA has proposed creating a tiered design in which the division would have four clearly identified functional areas with appropriate personnel supervising each function.
These Student Affairs programs work closely with all Colleges and departments to ensure effective delivery of the University’s academic mission. As an example, Office of Community Involvement works with faculty on service-learning projects and the MSU Billings Academic Support Center collaborates with the Math and English department on developmental education curriculum reviews. Also, in order to meet MOU requirements with MSU Bozeman Nursing program, Student Affairs assist with renting out space and scheduling academic classrooms. Student Affairs also supports crossover functions related to administrative/business services, such as www.msubillings.edu/boffice/.
|•||Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs|
|Enrollment management functions|
|•||Financial Aid & Scholarships|
|•||New Student Services|
|Student Affairs functions|
|•||Housing and Residence Life|
|•||Student Government (ASMSUB)|
|•||Student Legal Services|
|•||Student Union & Activities|
|•||Community Involvement and Campus Compact|
|•||Multicultural Student Services|
|•||Bookstore (Jackets & Co.)|
|•||Childcare & Enrichment Center|
|Academic support functions|
|•||Academic Support Centers|
|•||Disability Support Services|
|•||Student Opportunity Services/TRiO|
|•||Upward Bound and Talent Search|
|Partner Departments (those that work clsoely with Student Affairs)|
Evidence: 1.1 Mission Document
The Division of Student Affairs employs a highly qualified staff of talented individuals who provide a variety of programs and services. Exhibits such as the Student Affairs Staff Profile demonstrate the academic and/or work experience that prepared professional staff for their assignments.
Fall 2007, a new Professional Development committee in Student Affairs launched training for all staff. Fall 2007-Spring 2008, more than 100 Student Affairs personnel attended workshops; 95% of participants who completed an evaluation agreed/strongly agreed that training had enhanced their understanding. More than 80% were able to gain new insights/learn new applications to better perform job duties.
Division-wide service expectations have also been developed for implementation in all offices, and training will continue into 2009.
While limited professional development opportunities exist in Montana, many directors and coordinators attend annual conferences at the national and regional levels to acquire program-specific training. For example, professional development helps Disability Support Services (DSS) staff learn of appropriate and up-to-date assistive technology and accommodations; this influenced DSS’s recent decision to use remote captioning and interpreting along with a change in the format of alternative textbooks from tapes to CD, e-text, and MP3.
All position descriptions are clearly defined and follow University Human Resources policies and procedures. Personnel are evaluated on a yearly basis, typically in the spring, using a professional development plan instituted spring 2007 by the new Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
The format was revised in 2008 to better identify departmental goals and learning outcomes. Effectiveness has been gauged on an annual performance measure and the director’s or coordinator’s ability to measure learning outcomes within each area using CAS reports, program reviews, assessment tools, and the CAS Self-Assessment Guide survey.
- 3.3/Table 3.2 Student Affairs Staff Profile,
- 1.7 Surveys of Satisfaction
Annually, each Student Affairs office establishes its own set of goals and action items that fall under broad Division initiatives, evaluated on an annual basis. Through 2007-2008, SA has reviewed assessment data related to results of the Noel- Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (spring 2006) and made improvements to the academic advising process.
Based on 2006 SSI data, the University created Partners-for-Change task forces which produced new or improved services that may have helped increase retention of freshmen by 4% (from 2006 to 2007) while fall 2007 enrollment increased by 2.1% (compared to fall 2006). Refer to Section 3.B and 3.D for more details on improvements made to academic advising, recruitment and retention.
The Enrollment Management Council meets monthly and includes the Provost, IT Director, Director of NSS, marketing personnel, Native American studies faculty, and a representative from Graduate Studies. This Council reviews strategic enrollment goals and provides direction for the Enrollment Management Action Team. EMAT, comprising various Student Affairs and administrative services professionals and two faculty, conducted a Fall 2007 survey of all new freshman and transfer students. Follow-up conversations with students were conducted to design assistance for those considered at-risk or who had need for service or academic support.
- 3.1 Student Handbook;
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog;
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog
The Division has office space in seven different facilities on the East, West and Downtown Campuses. McMullen Hall, home of many Student Affairs and administration offices at the East Campus, underwent remodeling in spring 2008, and all departments were deployed to other buildings during the renovation project. Key student service functions remained together (COE building) while some administrative functions moved to the Student Union. The McMullen Hall renovation will allow MSU Billings to create a “one-stop shop” service for students on first floor of the University’s centrally located main administrative building, where New Student Services, Registrar, Financial Aid and Advising functions will be physically combined. West Campus offices in conjunction with the Facilities Services Department are evaluating a remodeling plan for the College’s original building, as the new 50,000 square foot COT Health Sciences Building opened in spring 2008.
MSU Billings auxiliary facilities (Family Housing, Apsaruke Hall, Petro and Rimrock Hall and the Student Union Building) have a system in place to continually monitor and review the facility maintenance, security, safety, and other related building operations. Regular reports of building maintenance and deferred maintenance are developed and used to budget annual maintenance projects. During fall 2008, the auxiliary services are exploring options to develop a long-range building and master plan.
Although there have been changes in staffing patterns in some offices (Financial Aid and West Campus Student Services), there has not been a significant increase in staff positions for three years in many Student Affairs offices, regardless of growth in student enrollment and increased demand for services at the West Campus. However, some internal hiring decisions have been delayed because of the opportunities that will exist when McMullen Hall is remodeled (spring-fall 2008) and a “one-stop shop” is created. This will allow combination of some positions, review of communication flow, and cross-training of individuals to improve services while using budgets more efficiently.
The staff of Admissions/Records/Registrar is challenged by a growing demand from online initiatives, new Board of Regents policies, new technology, implementation of a dual credit pilot program, and attempts to create flexible scheduling which includes Banner issues (i.e. 15-week term schedules, transcripts, withdrawal processes, etc.). In order to provide timely response to students and award aid, Financial Aid is reviewing current organizational structure and training needs. Likewise, Student Life and Housing is reviewing organizational structure to provide more services and programs related to student learning initiatives, First-Year Experience programs, and Living-Learning communities.
West Campus student services are growing with satellite offices of DSS, the Academic Advising Center, the Academic Support Center, the Student Health Center and Career Services. All of these departments are supported, at least in part, by state funds; some also use designated-fee funds.
The state-funded office of Disability Support Services has been especially hard hit by the number of students needing assistive technology, including the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing students attending MSU Billings. Meeting these expenses is a continuing budgetary challenge, especially when demand for interpreters fluctuates.
In fall 2007, interpreting costs (after reimbursement from Voc Rehab) were $23,143; in spring 2008, final costs were $20,944. While the University maintains good working relationships with specialists in the community, there are very few qualified sign language interpreters in Billings, and campus wages are not competitive with free-lance interpreting services: MSU Billings pays $15/hr while other regional employers pay up to $25/hr for interpreter services.
Low wages across Montana have a negative impact on recruitment and retention of qualified staff; this is an issue for the entire Montana University System and is being addressed by the Board of Regents through system-wide initiatives and discussions. MSU Billings has struggled with hiring positions within administrative support; for example, in fall 2007 there were nine vacant positions in SA, and four had failed searches.
University allocations of state funds are decided on an annual basis and depend on whether or not the University has met OCHE enrollment targets; we do not use a performance-based budgeting model.
State funding for departments and services within Student Affairs is roughly 6.4% of the state allocation for the University as a whole. The Division is funded by four sources:
- State general funds = 46.7%
- Auxiliaries = 24.2%
- Fees = 16.6%
- Grants = 12.5%
- 7.13 Current Operating Budgets;
- 7.14 Current Auxiliary Operating Budgets