The University conducts a scheduled rotation of surveys to determine student satisfaction and engagement, alumni/ae satisfaction, employee morale, and graduate employment. Data are reviewed by members of the CQI/ Accreditation Steering Committee, the Chancellor’s Cabinet, and various department heads and deans.
Data are used to identify trends and needs and to establish appropriate procedures (such as creation of committees and action plans) necessary to make changes, if required. Many of these surveys relate to or have components linked to Student Affairs initiatives and responsibilities. Therefore, members of the SA team participate in various committees, task forces, and other groups designed to improve services to students. As an example, after the SSI was administered in 2006, the campus established four Partners-for-Change faculty and administrative work groups (Advising, Recruitment, Retention, and eLearning), with SA directors serving either as co-chairs or members.
The fall 2007 New Freshmen Survey provided a composite student profile. About two-thirds are women, and almost 74% of students work more than 10 hrs/week. Nearly 50% of new freshmen are first-generation college students (parents did not attend college) while the national average is 36%; on average, they are 23+ years old. Most full time (FT) first-time degree-seeking undergrads receive some form of financial aid (77% at the West Campus; 81% at the East Campus), primarily as loans. When a student graduates with a BA/BS, s/he owes, on average about $20,000 in student loan debt (MUS data 2006-07). Sixteen percent of new freshmen have a GED and 27% feel they are less academically prepared than their peers. (See Exhibit 3.3, Admissions Report) . On average, MSU Billings students complete a four-year degree in six years at a 28% rate; COT students complete a two-year degree in three years at a 36% rate. Retention from freshman to sophomore year is 57% (fall 2006 to fall 2007), lower than the national rate of roughly 66%. However, this is a campus increase from 51% in 1999 to 2000. While improvement in retention can be attributed to various activities and services, limited research has been done to identify the impact of specific services and activities.
A spring 2008 survey of online students indicated that 74% of online students are female; 29% live more than 100 miles from campus; 60% are PT students; 45% are taking no on-campus courses; 56% are taking more than one online course; 52% work 30+ hrs/wk while another 15% work 21-30 hrs/wk. When asked why they chose online instead of on-campus courses, respondents said the online format allows them to combine education with family and/or work; they live too far from campus to attend traditional classes; MSU Billings offered the desired program online; and online offers convenience.
The Enrollment Management Action Team, comprising 17 faculty and professional staff members, uses these data to help identify at-risk students. Data also give the West Campus Retention Counselor/Perkins Grant Director (hired spring 2004) and the East Campus Student Success Coordinator (hired fall 2007) valuable information to provide appropriate services; i.e, ongoing mentoring services and special programs. As an example, data related to fall 2007 freshman cohort students (21%) that did not return spring 2008 included “provisional” admits, part-time students, minority students (Hispanic and American Indian), and undecided students, all of whom were more likely to not return than other peer groups. Currently, a group of academic and student affairs professionals are discussing new initiatives for fall 2008, including a section of the A&SC101 course for all undecided students and adult learners and mentorship programs for new minority students. Other Student Affairs surveys and assessment data are used to identify students’ needs, abilities, and overall satisfaction.
Most data collection occurs regularly and is part of each department’s annual goals and learning outcome measurements. (See Chart 3.2)
Institutional Identification and Institutional Support
- Institutional identification of students’ needs includes review of:
- Entrance standards
- Placement testing: COMPASS
- Advising intakes
- 15-day report: OCHE census
- Freshman and Transfer Surveys
- ASC101 retention data
- Developmental Ed courses & student performance
Institutional support of students’ learning and special needs is provided through the Academic Support Center (ASC), which includes tutoring in the Learning Lab; developmental education courses in math, English, and reading; an A&SC 101 College Success Strategies course; and retention counseling.
The Board of Regents sets admission requirements; however, students who do not meet these academic requirements have four options for admission to MSU Billings:
Enroll as a part-time student with seven or fewer credits the first semester of attendance
Enroll part-time during summer semester
Enroll as a student at West Campus. After successful completion of the first semester, enroll at East Campus.
Enroll at a community college or another accredited college and attempt at least 12 credits or make up any deficiencies in college preparatory curriculum and then transfer to MSU Billings.
Students may attend orientation sessions to learn about the University community, take the COMPASS (ACT) placement test, and meet with an academic advisor to register for classes and discuss their program of study. They are most often the recipients of academic and other support services.
COMPASS placement scores for English and mathematics were established and are reviewed by the academic departments, registrar, and ASC to promote students’ academic success in current and subsequent courses. During advising sessions, students who are concerned about academic success are referred to the Learning Lab in the Academic Support Center (ASC), which provides tutoring services for developmental courses (Math 085, Math 101, Math 105, Engl 100, and Rd 101). Tutors are also available for other courses such as statistics, economics, accounting, anatomy and physiology, psychology, and foreign languages. Currently, ASC is reviewing new methods and technologies to provide tutoring services for online-only students with a newly awarded state grant to assist in the development of online tutoring.
Advisors encourage students with COMPASS scores that place them in a developmental course to use the Learning Lab. Under prepared students are also encouraged to enroll in a one-credit College Success Strategies course. A&SC 101 College Success Strategies is mandatory for students who are provisionally admitted and optional for others who want to strengthen their study skills.
The East Campus ASC was established in 2001 in response to students’ learning and special needs, especially students at risk of not succeeding academically. The ASC is a centralized student success center that offers free tutoring, instruction in developmental English, mathematics, reading, and college success, as well as academic coaching, advising, and social adjustment and transition counseling to facilitate student persistence to graduation. Now housed on both campuses, the ASC serves most students at some point during each semester. Learning Lab visits peaked in fall 2004; thereafter, tutoring use increased while visits decreased. Students used other IT labs on campus as indicated in spring 2007 AccuTrack satisfaction survey, which identified slow computers as a Lab weakness; computers were subsequently upgraded. (See Chart 3.3)
ASC services are regularly assessed to better serve students’ needs and broaden the services provided. Following National Association for Developmental Education (NADE) best practices, the Academic Support Center gathers and analyzes data to evaluate the program. Nationally, course pass rates and post-DevEd pass rates of students in their subsequent college-level classes are used to measure the success of the DevEd students. According to national statistics in a 2007 report in Research in Developmental Education, the reading student success rate is 76%, writing is 74%, and math is 68%. This rate is based on students who remained in the class the entire semester (excluding those withdrawn from the course) and who received a grade of C or better. Following this standard, the MSU Billings DevEd English, math and reading courses exceeded the national success percentage each semester.
In the same national report, student success was measured in courses taken following participation in a DevEd course. The national pass rate with a C or better is 69% for reading, 64% for writing, and 58% for math. Calculations included students who completed the highest level DevEd course with a C or better, enrolled in the first college-level course (Post-DevEd) in that subject or related subject, and passed the college-level course with a C or better. The success rates of the MSU Billings DevEd students in the post-DevEd course meet or exceed the national percentage. This is not calculated for Reading 101 students as it is not a prerequisite for college-level courses offered at MSU Billings. (See Chart 3.4)
The Academic Support Center also tracks student success by comparing graduation rates and retention to sophomore year rates of developmental students and incoming freshmen. The freshman cohort includes all first-time freshmen, while the DevEd cohort is students who enroll in a DevEd course for the first time during that semester; a student may be enrolled in one or multiple DevEd courses in that semester. (See Charts 3.5 and 3.6)
Freshman and DevEd cohorts are not two different groups of students since DevEd cohort students may also be included in the freshman cohort. BA/BS graduation rates on the East Campus are reported after six years. The current graduation rates include DevEd students who may or may not have received academic support from the ASC as the current rates are based on semesters prior to the centralization of academic support services. Students in the fall 2001 cohort were the first students eligible to receive services from the centralized ASC.
Exclusively at the West Campus, a Perkins grant funds retention support to the ASN, AAS, and Certificate of Applied Science programs, which involve about 75% of West students each year. These activities are coordinated by the Retention Counselor/Perkins Grant Director, who works in partnership with Academic Advisors and Career Services. Data are tracked in a Retention Database each term, providing Perkins Grant Accountability measures used to evaluate and improve these retention activities. Additional Perkins-related activities are provided through ASC services.
- New Student Orientation (with Director of Student Services and New Student Services staff)
- 15-day No-Show letters
- Academic Performance Alerts
- Collection of Below “C’’ Mid-term Grades
- Student Success Workshops
- Contact of Students Not Returning
The fall 2007 reorganization of the ASC allowed for the hiring of a new Student Success Coordinator, whose East Campus duties mimic those of the West Campus position funded by the Carl Perkins grant. The Student Success Coordinator (SSC) will conduct several retention efforts previously performed by the Director, Assistant Director and Administrative Assistant positions. In addition, the SSC will provide academic coaching, advising, social adjustment and transition counseling to facilitate students’ persistence to graduation.
Self-Identification and Institutional Support
Student Opportunity Services, the campus name for Student Support Services/ TRiO, is funded by the U.S. Department of Education to support 250 self-identified students on the East Campus who meet the following eligibility criteria: first generation college student AND/OR documented physical or learning disability AND/OR low income (150% below poverty level).
Two-thirds of the participants in any SOS project must be either disabled or potential first-generation college students from low-income families. Onethird of the disabled participants must also be lowincome students. (See Chart 3.7)
Student Opportunity Services/TRiO helps eligible students remain in college and graduate; a few federally funded interventions include:
- Return-to-Learn (A&SC 101 class)
- Study groups/tutoring
- Peer mentoring
- Supplemental grant aid
- Midterm evaluations
- Campus & community resource info
- College Student Inventory (N-L)
Direct positive impact comes from Supplemental Grant Aid (SGA), which was initially allocated to help reduce the loan burden of students who were both in their first two years of college and receiving a Pell grant. SGA must be awarded within the same range as Pell grants; i.e., if the legislature determines Pell grant limits to be $400 at the lowest and $4,050 at the highest, then SGA awards must also be within those parameters; however, they do not have to match the amount of Pell grant awarded to the student. Additionally, students who receive grant aid must be at risk of dropping out of school. (See Chart 3.9)
The state-funded Disability Support Services assists in creating an accessible University community where students with documented disabilities have an equal opportunity to fully participate in all aspects of the educational environment. To be eligible for services, a student must have a documented disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Disability Support Services (DSS) coordinates the provision of reasonable accommodations, advocates for an accessible and amenable learning environment, and promotes self-determination for students. Accommodations are based upon individual need and may include the following:
- Alternative testing
- Campus accessibility
- Alternative text
- Assistive technology
- Note takers
- Assistive listening devices
- Sign language interpreters
DSS participates in many campus and community presentations, and MSU Billings enjoys a reputation as a disability-friendly campus where over 3% of the student population has a documented disability. Similar to national trends, over 50% of disabilities on this campus include learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD and psychiatric disabilities. DSS also works with Facilities Services to incorporate ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG) in remodel/ construction projects and to advocate for facility accessibility. Information about DSS is in the Student Handbook and is included with admissions and recruitment information. From spring 2006 to fall2007, 55 DSS students graduated, with an average GPA of 3.04. In the Class of 2007, 64% of DSS grads reported that they were employed in their major field; 24% were employed outside of their major field; 12% were continuing their education.
While the transition to college is a significant adjustment for any new student, the issues an American Indian student faces are even greater. Annually, about 250 American Indian students attend MSU Billings since the Montana tribes and seven tribal colleges see this campus as a small and comfortable environment. MSU Billings is near both the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian reservations and may be perceived as more “manageable” for Native students than the larger Montana campuses. Multicultural Student Services provides advocacy for students, offers referrals to other campus student services and acts as a liaison among the MSU Billings’ Native American Studies Program, tribal and junior colleges and high schools. In 2006-07, MSS met with 75 prospective American Indian students during their campus visits. MSS contacts all campus minority students and first-time/ transfer students, introducing the office as a resource; fall 2007, MSS invited more than 400 minority and 110 first-time and transfer students to the office. Recently, Hispanic students have comprised the fastest growing population; in spring 2008, 3.2% of the ±10% of minority students were Hispanic.
Faculty and staff from both reservations meet with their MSU Billings counterparts, addressing transitional issues students face when moving from a two-year tribal college to a four-year campus and developing transfer/articulation agreements. Additionally, six Tribal Education representatives work with MSU Billings to follow Native students’ progress and effectiveness of recruitment/retention strategies. In 2006, MSS created a Native American Alumni Advisory Board; in 2007, Multicultural Student Services established a Minority Task Force comprising campus and community members. Their charge is to find better ways to serve the minority population. Additionally, MSS assists minority clubs in providing cultural and educational events for the campus and community. Annually, Inter-Tribal Indian Club members share their traditional culture through Tipi-Raising, drum songs and dancing on American Indian Heritage Day. Every spring ITIC hosts the Pow-Wow, attended by more than 3,000 participants from the Northwest region.
Since its inception in 1998, the Office of International Studies has reported to Student Affairs. Program services have included providing orientation sessions and support for international students who come to campus from other countries, hosting social and cultural events, and coordinating transitional assistance to students leaving campus to study abroad. OIS arranges partnerships with universities overseas in order to expand study abroad opportunities. Many of these services could not be done without the assistance from Academic Affairs and Administrative Affairs (short study abroad trips, study abroad student requests, business services, etc.). Currently MSU Billings has active agreements with universities in Germany, China, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain and Costa Rica. More than 40 international students attend MSU Billings each fall (similar numbers over the past five years) and 12-16 students participate in our summer ESL program.
OIS data from 2001-2007 indicate that international student enrollment, including exchange students, has doubled (from 26 to 57); since 2001, more than 200 students have studied abroad. OIS has also sponsored the International Studies Club, which develops awareness and support for students. Fall 2007, a search was< initiated for a new coordinator, and the position was redesigned; OIS now reports to Academic Affairs.
Evidence: 6.4 BOR Policy 301,18
The Associated Students of Montana State University Billings (ASMSUB) serves as the governing body for student-related input into University programs and services. Students from both campuses are elected each year to serve as representatives to ASMSUB, with an Executive Cabinet that oversees Legislative and Judiciary branches. Student officers include President, Vice President, Business Manager, Political Action Director, Student Resolution Officer, and 19 Student Senators. Student Senate allocates and oversees the expenditure of student activity fee funds, approximately $250,000/year.
ASMSUB students serve on a variety of campus-wide committees, including University fee committees, Academic Senate, etc. A faculty and administrative representative serves as an advisor and assists students with the development of policies. Students also participate in institutional governance through representation on the Provost Council, the Student Affairs Council, the Enrollment Management Action Team, and the Collective Bargaining Team. Also, students make up a majority on the Tech Fee Committee.
Faculty members have the opportunity to participate in policy development in an innovative way. The four Partners for Change Task Forces were a University response to the spring 2006 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory. These task forces bring together faculty and Student Affairs staff and report to CQI/ Accreditation Steering Committee Co-Chairs, addressing four campus issues: Advising, Recruitment, Retention, and eLearning. Teams are co-chaired by a faculty representative and a Student Affairs director who identify, discuss, and design plans to address issues in these four areas.
Currently, each task force meets to discuss ways to improve current services and/ or to develop new initiatives; as an example, the Academic Advising Partners-for- Change Task Force adopted “Advising Week” activities, allowing students to gain information about courses and advising a week before registration began for spring 2008.
In addition, faculty members participate on various Student Affairs Advisory Boards that help to develop policies for student programs, for example:
- The Office for Community Involvement strives to connect students to service opportunities as a way to enhance their academic experience. OCI created a Service Learning Advisory Board with staff, faculty and community partners who helped develop and implement Service Learning criteria and program execution.
- The International Studies Advisory Board includes faculty members, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Provost, and other Student Affairs professionals who review international student recruitment plans, services for international students, and new Memoranda of Understanding with international universities.
- Career Services has long had an Advisory Board, including local employers, faculty from each College, staff, and students. For 10-plus years, they have met quarterly to address issues such as employer expectations of grads, employer services, and jobs/internships for students.
- Dining Services staff meet on a regular basis with various groups, and the dining services manager hosts monthly “Meetings with the Manager” where various groups are invited, e.g. ASMSUB students, on-campus first-time students, etc. In addition, the RA Staff (para-professional housing staff) meetings include “food service feedback” as a weekly agenda item.
- 3.8 ASMSUB By-laws,
- 6.10 List of current campus committees and task forces
Students’ rights and responsibilities are well defined in the Student Handbook, specifically in the “Code of Student Conduct” section. Students’ rights in the student conduct process (due process) are identified. They involve formal dispositions, appeal processes, and student grievance polices and procedures. The code of conduct addresses both socially acceptable behavior and academic behavior; verbal and physical violence and harassment are clearly addressed in order to promote a safe living and learning environment for all students. Academic misconduct is also clearly identified in the “Code of Student Conduct” and covers four distinct conduct areas: plagiarism, cheating, fabrication and misrepresentation.
Student Handbook policies, including the “Code of Student Conduct,” are reviewed annually. The Chancellor’s Cabinet, Student Behavior Team, and ASMSUB review and approve changes. Printed copies of the Student Handbook are available to all students at the beginning of each academic year; it is also online at www.msubillings. edu/studenthandbook.
At the beginning of each semester, students living in the residence halls are given the Residence Hall Policies and Procedures Handbook. This handbook clearly states all policies and procedures regarding conduct, contractual agreements and available residence hall and campus resources.
Within the Division of Student Affairs, specific individuals (such as the Vice Chancellor, hall directors, Director of Student Services at the West Campus, Director of Student Life and Housing) are trained as conduct hearing officers. Professional staff serve as primary conduct hearing officers and can find students in violation of the Residence Hall Policies and Procedure Handbook or the “Code of Student Conduct”, they are also authorized to assess appropriate sanctions. When students meet with a conduct hearing officer, they are provided with the Student Handbook and specific information regarding their due process rights as a student.
The Student Behavior Team includes the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Director of Student Services at the COT, Director of Student Health Services, Director of Student Life and Housing, and the University Chief of Police. This team meets regularly to discuss incidents, assign campus hearing officers, and review issues and concerns. About 250 infractions are handled each academic year, the majority of which involve residence hall students.
- 3.1 Student Handbook;
- 3.9 Residence Hall handbook
During summer 2007, New Student Orientation, a 15-minute safety workshop, was presented to all students and parents. This program covered evacuation and fire drills, escorts, personal safety, Jeanne Clery Act, and more. Student safety information is also discussed with residence hall students during floor meetings at the beginning of each semester. A fall 2007 newsletter was distributed to residence hall students. Information on safety is also published in the Student Handbook and on the University Police web page.
Each residence hall is staffed with a resident assistant on each wing of the floor. The front doors to the buildings are locked 24 hrs per day, and students use a secure hand-reader system to enter. During regular semester hours, the front desks are staffed 24 hours a day and Rimrock is staffed 12-16 hours per day. Security cameras are in place in both parking lots and main lobby areas.
The University Police Department provides law enforcement services to the University for the safety of students, faculty, staff, and guests. Seven sworn police officers certified by the State of Montana handle police and criminal matters on MSU Billings property and also provide other Public Safety services including parking, emergency management, and safety.
All officers have successfully completed training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy and enforce all federal, state, and city laws and ordinances, and university policies, applying proactive patrol techniques to monitor university property during business and non-business hours. On the East Campus, officers are on duty 24/7; on the West Campus, an officer works 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Fall and Spring Semesters and provides security during evening classes. Officers conduct monthly inspections of each building to check for safety hazards, suspicious activity, security concerns, or building mechanical malfunctions and report them to Facilities Services.
Officers respond to any report of criminal behavior, safety, emergency, or security concerns. They also respond to service-related requests such as escorting students to their campus destinations, transferring University money, addressing parking issues, and granting building access during non-business hours. Officers monitor the campus by vehicle, on foot, or on bicycles (weather permitting) and maintain communication with dispatchers and with night watch staff in residence halls during non-business hours.
University police are active members of the University Safety Committee, comprising a variety of campus representatives (students, staff, faculty), which addresses safety issues that arise at the University. The University Police Chief also is a member of the University Emergency Crisis Communications Committee. Following the spring 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting, the University Safety Committee changed the emergency response plan; see www.msubillings.edu/stuaff/ disaster-recovery.htm.
At the fall 2007 pre-session conference, University Police presented this information to department/unit meetings on both East and West campuses. To assist with addressing potential threat from a student in a classroom or addressing behavior deemed inappropriate, the VCSA has developed Classroom Behavior and Suspicion of Threat procedure, a Student Behavior Report Form, and guidelines for faculty to use when dealing with distressed students (including referral procedures).
Community policing is a very important part of the University Police Department’s goals to serve the entire University community and the surrounding area. Information regarding the department’s goals, mission statement and services are at www.msubillings.edu/security. Also posted are the Jeanne Clery disclosure of campus security policy and campus crime statistics, the county sex and violent offenders’ registry, the state sex and violent offenders’ registry, and links to a website for information relating to identity theft. Handouts for these sites are available at the University Police Department office.
The Jeanne Clery website is included on each copy of the parking regulations brochure, given to anyone who drives a vehicle to campus. This website is also listed on new employee application forms and posted on many campus bulletin boards.
- 3.1 Student Affairs Handbook;
- 3.9 Residence Hall Handbook;
- 1.7 Student Satisfaction Survey;
- 3.7 List of student organizations;
- 3.10 New Student Guide,
- 3.20 Classroom Behavior Documents
The University publishes and makes available to both prospective and enrolled students the East Campus General Bulletin and Graduate Catalog which are revised biennially; the West Campus General Bulletin is revised every year. Also available on the web, these primary and official sources of information about the University include all the information prospective or returning students need. Detailed information includes the University’s mission, admission requirements and procedures, students’ rights and responsibilities, academic regulations, course descriptions, and graduation requirements.
Documents also include information about curricula, special programs, student services, Library, administration, faculty, degrees conferred, tuition, fees, refund policy, and withdrawal from the University. See www.msubillings.edu/catalogs/.
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog;
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog;
- 3.1 Student Handbook
For many years, each department in Student Affairs has conducted annual program reviews, including an evaluation of goals and their connection with Division and University Strategic Initiatives. In addition to these annual evaluations, a fiveyear schedule for in-depth review of all Student Affairs programs was implemented in fall 2006. Each office now completes a self-assessment based on guidelines of the Council for the Advancement of Standards, (CAS) including a visit and report every five years from external evaluators who are professionals in the field.
Through spring 2008, external reviewers have visited and reported on six programs’ compliance with CAS guidelines. An executive summary, based on the external review, which identified program strengths and deficiencies, served as the basis for construction of 2007-2008 goals/objectives. For example, in Career Services this comprehensive review identified a need for internal data/report writing; revamping of an administrative support position now allows the office to rely less on campus IT services. See external evaluation and review schedule below.
Establishing quantitative measures in all Student Affairs programs and annual goals was the initial focus; fall 2007, a new assessment team began to design a division-wide qualitative evaluation plan that will also measure student learning outcomes, based on the Council for the Advancement of Standards guidelines. As offices identify their 2008-2009 goals/objectives, inclusion of a design to measure student learning outcomes will be mandatory. This new plan will help each director and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs identify areas in need of improvement and implement appropriate changes using annual goals, action plans, and assessment data. Using student feedback also guides program evolution; see 3.B.1. In DSS, for example, annual student surveys solicit input regarding accessibility and physical access concerns, which are referred to Facilities Services. Residence Life conducts exit surveys with residents and uses responses to guide program and facility planning; see 3.D.13.
- 1.1 Mission Document;
- 1.2 Annual Reports;
- 1.7 Surveys;
- 2.10 Student Affairs External Reviews.