The University’s general admission policy is established by the Montana Board of Regents. Specific criteria are used to admit students at the East Campus (undergraduate and graduate) and at the West Campus (two-year undergraduate and second career). Admission criteria vary, depending upon if and when students graduated from high school; generally, all graduates from accredited Montana high schools are accepted. Institutional Research follows Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education reporting guidelines for any exceptions.
Recent high school graduates applying to the East Campus must score at least 22 on the ACT (1540 on the SAT), OR have a minimum 2.5 GPA, OR rank in the upper one-half of their graduating class. They must also have completed the University Preparatory Requirements, outlined in the General Bulletin and available on the web; West Campus applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. See updated BOR policies for Writing (301.16) and Mathematics (301.15) Proficiency designations for fall 2008 and fall 2009; additional DevEd policies begin 2010. MSU Billings has begun to assess enrollment impact and potential developmental instruction needs; fall 2007, 72% of entering freshmen required a remedial math class. The General Bulletin defines admission policies for Transfer and Re-Admission applicants as well as for non-high school grads (must submit GED and national test score), current high school students, non-degree applicants, and international students.
First-Time Students Graduated from High School within the Last Three Years Applying to the College of Allied Health Professions, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Education:
- An ACT Composite score of 22 or SAT combined score of 1540 or 2.50 grade point average or ranking in the upper half (50%) of the high school graduating class
- A score of 18 on the ACT Math section or a score of 440 on the SAT Math section or a score of three or higher on the AP Calculus AB or BC exam
- A score of 16 on the ACT Combined English/Writing section; or a score of five on the ACT Optional Writing Test; or a score of 390 on the SAT Writing section; or a score of 2.5 on the MUS (Montana University System) Writing Assessment; or a score of three or higher on the AP English Language or English Literature exam
- Part-time students taking seven credits or fewer or students attending Summer Semester only are exempted from some admission requirements per Board of Regent policy.
- As determined by the Director of Admission, and allowed by Board of Regent policy, 15% of the first-time, full-time freshman may be admitted without meeting the above criteria.
- Students who do not meet admission requirements for the east campus may be admitted to the west campus for their first year and afforded the opportunity to take courses (including those necessary for remediation) at the reduced tuition. At the end of each academic year, those students who achieved academically (2.0 GPA) are granted admission to the east campus.
First-Time Students Applying to the College of Technology
- A high school diploma from an accredited high school, a GED, or the ACT COMPASS is required of all students to be admitted.
- Some programs have special entry requirements.
A student who has attempted 12 or more college-level credits at another accredited college or University is considered to be a transfer student. Montana resident transfer students will be admitted upon receipt of an official and complete transcript from each college or University attended. Resident transfer student applicants must be in good standing at the previous institution, eligible to continue or return to that institution. A non-Montana resident transfer student must be in good standing and have a 2.0 cumulative grade point average for all college-level work to be admitted.
Non-degree Seeking Students
An applicant who wishes to pursue studies for personal growth and who does not wish to work toward a formal degree at MSU Billings may apply as a non-degree student. Acceptance into this category does not constitute acceptance into a degree-granting program. All applicants should have sufficient educational background to qualify for the course or courses in which enrollment is sought and must certify on the application form that they have graduated from high school or have passed the General Education Development Test (GED). Students enrolled in continuing education course and special learning activities for academic credit offered by the College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning are enrolled using this category.
A maximum of 32 semester-hour credits earned as a non-degree student may be applied to an undergraduate degree at MSU Billings if the applicant applies and is accepted into a degree program. Financial aid is not available to students in this category, nor may they qualify for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. This category is not open to students currently on academic suspension from MSU Billings or on academic suspension from any other college or University. No academic credentials or transcripts are required in support of the application; however, non-degree students who later wish to change to a degree program must furnish required supporting credentials and must meet all the regular admission requirements.
Undergraduate admission to the University includes the following processes:
- Mandatory Advising — All first-time freshman students entering either campus are required to see an academic advisor before registering for classes. During the initial advising session, students receive information regarding General Education/Academic Foundations requirements and worksheets for major and minor academic programs. All incoming fall students are encouraged to attend New Student Orientation, where the student takes placement tests, receives a campus tour, meets with an academic advisor to discuss educational goals and formulate a course schedule, and takes care of “new student” details while on campus.
- Placement Testing — All entering students and transfer students on both campuses who have not completed their general education requirements in English or mathematics must take the electronic COMPASS placement test during Student Orientation.
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog;
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog;
- 6.4 BOR Policy and Procedure Manual, Policy 301.15 and 301.16
Data show that our students are mostly female (65%) and many of them are single parents. Three-quarters of our students work 10+ hrs/wk and most (± 80%) of our students receive some form of financial aid. Approximately 3% have a documented disability, and 49% of new freshmen identify themselves as first-generation college students (fall 2007). A small but growing number (±1%) are international students and about 10% are non-Caucasian, primarily American Indian who represented 5% of total student population in spring 2008. Hispanic students made up 3% of the population in that same term. The nature of the programs offered at the West COT Campus attracts students with demographics similar to the East Campus but with even more acute needs, including students from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds and students who are interested in retooling and retraining for a new career.
New Student Services and Multicultural Student Services personnel recruit students from diverse ethnic backgrounds, especially American Indian students from various locations throughout the state and Hispanic students from the local community. To establish strong relationships with diverse populations, campus representatives visit the seven Tribal Colleges every year and host regularly scheduled campus visits. However, our Native American student population is slightly below parity with ethnicity representation in our state. MSU Billings projects a 5% increase of new Native American students (roughly 13 students) for fall 2008 with the new recruitment efforts developed by NSS representatives and the newly created position of Director of Native American Studies. In addition, New Student Services has assigned an Admissions Counselor to assist with minority student recruitment. Her responsibilities include assisting all minority students with the admissions and financial aid process. However, most of her outreach consists of working with Native American and Hispanic students. Her outreach consists of participating in events, college fairs, and other activities in South Billings and on the reservations in Montana. In addition, she visits all tribal high schools and tribal colleges. The Minority Student Admissions Counselor also coordinates an annual visit day for prospective Native American students.
Additionally, DSS works with Facilities Services and with faculty to ensure campus accessibility, so all students have full access to campus locations and experiences. This includes physical access for students who use wheelchairs, are blind or have low vision, and are deaf or hard-of-hearing. We are working toward universal design — products and environments meant to be usable by all people — to the greatest extent possible.
New Student Services representatives also recruit adult learners by visiting various Billings-area employers, government agencies, and non-profit agencies. When recruiters are in other towns, they visit hospitals, government agencies, and large employers to provide recruitment materials for employees regarding online and master’s programs.
MSU Billings has a clearly defined and published policy of non-discrimination in its admission policy, and admissions criteria are applied to all students consistently. However, there are some financial incentives for special populations. Veterans, senior citizens, and Montana American Indians are among those eligible for fee waivers; some Colleges and departments (Art, Music, Communications) also offer fee waivers to their students. Students with disabilities, veterans, and American Indian students may also get educational assistance from State Vocational Rehabilitation, VA, and Tribal and Higher Education offices.
Evidence: 3.2 Student Demographic Data
The placement of students in courses and programs is based upon their academic and technical skills. COMPASS scores identify a student’s skills in math and English and help the student register in courses where s/he has a reasonable probability of success. Students scoring 99 or higher on the COMPASS reading test will receive credit for English 150 and will register for the next content level. Students who have taken several years of foreign language courses may take a department exam to earn credit that is awarded by the academic department.
As described in the General Bulletin and on the Advising website, students without as a way to qualify for admission to MSU Billings and for financial aid. This test includes the ACT, COMPASS Math, Reading and Writing Placement Tests. To gain admission, students must achieve or exceed these minimum scores on each subtest in a single testing experience:
- Writing 32
- Reading 62
- •Pre-algebra 25
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog;
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog;
- 2.12 Articulation Agreements;
- 3.10 New Student Guide
The University General Bulletin, Graduate Catalog, and COT Catalog define and describe minimal academic progress requirements (2.0 GPA undergrad; 3.0 GPA graduate) for continuation in educational programs and graduation requirements. Policies for undergraduate academic probation, academic suspension, and academic bankruptcy (Fresh Start) are also published, as is an appeals process for readmission for students who have been suspended or terminated.
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog;
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog
Graduation requirements for COT students, for BA/BS students, and for graduate students are published on the web and in the General Bulletin, Graduate Catalog, and COT Catalog. These guidelines are consistently applied in both the certificate and degree verification process.
“Student Right-to-Know” graduation data specifically for athletes are posted at www.msubillings.edu/athletics/compliance.htm. Also, Career Services compiles and publishes the annual Grad Data report, which informs prospective students of typical employment outcomes by College and major at www.msubillings.edu/ careers/linksSGradData.htm.
- 2.11 General Bulletin/COT Catalog;
- 2.5 Graduate Catalog
Approximately 80% of MSU Billings students receive some form of federal financial aid, and most work 10+ hours/week while attending school. The cost of full-time attendance (about $14,500/yr for Montana residents who live on campus) poses a funding challenge for many students. The goal is to disburse students’ aid to their account when school starts, and when that does not happen, students may blame the Financial Aid Office. The spring 2006 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Survey identified challenges regarding the adequacy of aid, the lateness of financial aid awards getting to students, and the perception of financial aid personnel as not helpful. A fall 2007 survey of summer students revealed they feel the FA office does not communicate well with students regarding the summer aid process; further, students have the perception that staff are not concerned about them and that available financial aid is inadequate. Spring 2008 SSI data indicate statistically significant improvement in perceived helpfulness of financial aid counselors and timeliness of aid awarding and communication. At the West Campus, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), 2007, shows that students are satisfied with financial aid advising at a slightly lower level as comparison institutions (mean = 2.09 out of a scale of 1-3).
The hiring of a full-time financial aid officer and more participation in summer registration days may help increase overall satisfaction.
Funds through the American Indian Tuition Waiver and Governor’s Honors Scholarship are made available for American Indian and merit-based high school graduating senior. Over $400,000 is spent annually on American Indian Tuition Waivers.
Several lenders and secondary markets have left the Federal Family Education Loan Program since the beginning of the year. In Montana, the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation, the secondary market for federal student loans, secured funding for Montana students for the 2008-09 academic year. Although a few lenders have discontinued funding for Federal Stafford Student Loans, the majority are still participating in the program, so we can assure our students that funding will be available for 2008-2009. Members of Congress, the governor, members of the Montana Legislature and members of the Montana Board of Regents are all watching this issue closely.
The timeliness of awarding student aid is an area requiring improvement. The spring 2006 Noel-Levitz SSI reported a 1.2 gap between importance and student satisfaction; spring 2008 SSI data show an increased gap of 1.27. Annual software updates are available at the end of January; this year, due to office relocation and conversion to a new server, AY 2008-2009 award letters were sent April 1. The goal is to send 2009-2010 award letters by March 1.
Additionally, though students may file their FAFSA on time, they may not respond to requests for additional information. Often, students do not inquire about their status until school starts and that is too late.
The student notification process is being modified from one notice that additional information is required to contacting students every 30–45 days for three months. The new process should elicit students’ timely response so their aid can be completed and they can make informed decisions about how to pay for college. The new process will go into effect for new students’ beginning in the Spring/09 semester.
Summer aid is awarded manually; students who wish to be considered for summer funding may find information online and in the FA office. Financial Aid distributes summer information at the mid-February event “Summer on Ice,” which kicks off summer registration. However, because summer is the last semester of the award year (fall-spring-summer), institutional aid is limited.
Financial Aid takes very seriously the perception that staff are not helpful; students’ most frequent complaint is, “I cannot get the answers I need at the front desk.” With recent personnel changes and the spring 2008 McMullen remodeling, which includes the financial aid office, front desk personnel will have the authority and training to answer at least 70% of student questions.
With the “one-stop shop” concept, McMullen will have an Information Desk available for all guests visiting first-floor offices, staffed and trained by all first-floor offices. These new Information Specialists will be prepared to answer most questions and direct students to appropriate offices, i.e., Financial Aid, Admissions/Registrar, New Student Services, or Advising. Spring 2008 SSI data indicate improvement in customer service, which continues to be a top priority. The University provides an effective program of financial aid through the following student opportunities:
- Participation in all federal financial aid programs.
- State Grant awards in the amount of $359,250.
- State-funded fee waivers in the amount of $1.8 million for AY 2006-2007.
- Awards of $832,912 in institutional scholarships from endowed and annually funded sources.
- Awards of $79,500 in Governors Honors Scholarships.
- Institutional accountability for all financial aid awards is accomplished through:
- SCT Banner software that allows awarding as funding sources become available.
- Scholarship application process that assures students eligible for a specific scholarship are not left out of the selection process.
- Awarding of financial aid performed by four financial aid specialists.
- Management of the scholarship program, the loan operations, Return of Title IV program funds and processing of Pell Grant payments by different individuals so no one person controls all aspects of financial aid awards. Management of specific budgets maintained by the Director of Financial Aid so that all available funds are made available to eligible students.
- Training opportunities for all staff to maintain a high level of competency as federal regulations change and to assure ability to assess current policies and procedures.
- Good communication and cooperation with all Student Affairs Offices, Business Office and faculty for optimal service to our financial aid applicants.
- 3.5 Financial Aid Statistics;
- 3.6 Financial Aid Reviews;
- 7.4 Sources of Financial Aid
Information regarding the categories of financial assistance is available to both prospective and enrolled students in the following ways:
- Website at www.msubillings.edu/finaid.
- Presentations by financial aid staff at Preview Days, Adult Ed Center visits, College-Is-Possible and College-Is-Still-Possible sessions, high school workshops, mentor training for SOS/TRiO program and RAs, Return-to- Learn presentations.
- Ongoing communication and collaboration with the MSU Billings Foundation on scholarship application and selection procedures.
- MSU Billings is the official site for annual “College Goal Sunday” event.
- New Student Services makes presentations and meets individually with prospective students.
- 3.14 www.msubillings.edu/finaid;
- 3.10 New Student Guide
The most recent default rate for Stafford Student loans was 5.0%, which is down from 6.1% for FY 2003-2004, 7.6% for FY 2002-2003, and 9.0% for FY 2001-2002. For comparison, in 2004 (the most recent data available) Montana’s default rate was 5.2%, while the national rate was 5.1%. This steady decline in Stafford Loan defaults may be attributed to the requirement for annual loan counseling and to the presence of the Student Assistance Foundation representative on campus to assist students with loans. The 2005-2006 default rate for the Perkins Loan Program was 18.8%, much too high, and the goal is to lower it. Although the rate is below that at which a default prevention plan must be initiated, MSU Billings has reduced the maximum Perkins loan a student may incur from $4,000 (2005-2006) to $2,000 (2006-2007). Until current Perkins borrowers go into repayment, assessment of the impact of this new policy cannot be made.
The institution monitors its student loan programs and the institutional loan default rate with the following activities: Requiring students to complete online loan counseling at the start of every year of Stafford Loan receipt
Providing a loan specialist on campus through the Student Assistance Foundation. This beneficial extension of services for the Office of Financial Aid assures that students receive correct loan information; the SAF specialist also supports FA staff with exit counseling materials to non-returning students.
Providing debt counseling for students and class presentations by the SAF specialist
Advising students who wish to borrow alternative education loans (but not fill out the FAFSA) that submission of the FAFSA can secure a loan at a lower interest rate
Evidence: 3.5 Financial Aid Statistics
East Campus orientation programs are offered for all new freshman and incoming transfer students during the summer (11 sessions from May through August) and also prior to Spring Semester. Sessions are also offered for parents/ spouses, and faculty and Deans participate in welcoming students to campus. Most summer 2007 orientations included 30+ students at the East Campus and about 50 students at each of six sessions at the West Campus. These relatively small numbers allow MSU Billings to customize content and respond to participants’ special needs. Both campuses also host complementary sessions for parents/spouses.
During a one-day orientation at the East Campus, new students take the COMPASS test and then register for classes at a meeting with academic advisors. Also, students receive valuable information regarding campus resources, campus safety, transitional issues, living on campus, and DSS. Students requiring ADA accommodations meet with DSS staff (intake sessions); orientation accommodations include sign language interpreters, as needed. The evaluations from 2006 and 2007 showed an increase in satisfaction with understanding student services available, campus community, advising information, and availability of Financial Aid officials. Involving parents in the orientation process has gained acceptance across the nation and MSU Billings is no different. MSU Billings now offers a “Parents in Transitions” program at each orientation session and beginning Fall 2008, parents are invited to a social involving various faculty and administrators.
There are two full-time advisors at the West Campus, and it now has its own
separate Orientation program, revamped in 2007, so that new students attended one
of 42 small registration sessions and one of six large orientation sessions. At the
2007 registration sessions, students took the COMPASS placement test, attended
an advising overview presentation, met individually with an academic advisor, and
then registered for classes. Transfer and readmitting students made individual
appointments to meet with advisors. Subsequently, students attended one of six
orientation sessions prior to the start of school which were offered at various times
in August and September in an effort to provide students with critical information
just before the beginning of the semester. All new, transfer, and readmitting
students were invited to meet faculty, attend “What Every Student Needs to Know,”
a workshop about managing life on campus, buying textbooks, etc. Of the 332 new and transfer students officially enrolled at the West Campus on the 15th day of Fall Semester 2007, 81% had attended an orientation session; 72% of orientation students registered for spring 2008, while 53% of students not participating in orientation registered for spring 2008 classes.
There are also two orientation sessions for new international students (Fall and Spring Semester), which involve campus tours, registration, advising, and meetings with various campus offices and programs. In the summer of 2007, MSU Billings offered a special agenda for adult students who followed most of the New Student agenda, but they were also given some special assistance and a more individualized tour. If students are attending an Orientation and have requested specific services, such as meeting with someone from DSS or meeting with Athletics, individual appointments are made for them.
Because graduate students’ survey response indicated that a formal program was not a service new graduate students wanted, there is no formal Orientation program for them. Instead, since July 2007, Graduate Studies has sent information to each new student accepted into a graduate program. Students were also offered an individualized or small-group orientation session in the office and/or a campus tour given by New Student Services. Of the 51 info packets sent to date, 12 new grad students have requested individual orientation sessions.
Evidence: 3.10 New Student Guide
At both campuses, the Academic Advising Center provides mandatory academic advising to all new admit, readmit and transfer undergraduate students. Advising also offers mandatory and centralized academic advising for students who have not yet declared a major. Students are assigned to advisors by academic program areas; see www.msubillings.edu/advise/staff.asp. The advising centers were developed since the 1998 accreditation visit.
Annually, each advisor is responsible for advising between 350 and 450 students on the East Campus and close to 350 students on the West Campus; this load is above standards recommended by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). In its 2004 national survey, NACADA identified the mean number of advisees assigned to each full-time advisor at four-year public colleges/universities at 285:1; at two-year publics the ratio was 375:1. Current advisee loads at MSU Billings are at the maximum point where advisors can see and do quality advising without adding staff. An additional challenge at the West Campus is lack of administrative support for the two advisors. This may also help explain the gap of importance students placed on advising and our advisors’ availability in the 2006 Noel-Levitz SSI survey.
Except for students in pre-professional programs, those who have completed their first semester or more and who have declared a major are transferred to a faculty advisor in their major department on the East Campus. This allows for decentralized advising at the sophomore level and above, tailored to the students’ need by major or by discipline. On the West Campus, due to the length of study and specific field knowledge related to certificate and associate programs, students in trades, industry, business, computers, and transportation programs are transferred to a faculty advisor during their first semester. Students completing prerequisites in health programs are transferred to a faculty advisor when they are accepted into the program. The Advising Center on each campus may retain a student longer if the student is on academic probation. Additionally, though a student is assigned to a faculty advisor, that student may continue to use the Advising Center (either campus) for assistance with registering, getting copies of the advising work sheet, adding/dropping/withdrawing, and obtaining other resource materials.
Regular and frequent interface between the Advising Center and academic departments allows both center advisors and faculty advisors to remain current in degree program requirements. Interfaces include daily correspondence with faculty or department chairs, department meetings or larger College governance group for discussions, questions, and clarification regarding ongoing program revisions and immediate advising issues.
Students receive a letter from the Advising Center about their assignment to a faculty advisor. Simultaneously, the Advising Center forwards the student’s file to the faculty advisor so that students get consistent and seamless service.
This split model of centralized and decentralized advising allows for a central location for students to begin their advising experience while more specialized knowledge and mentorship come from faculty after leaving the Advising Center. It allows them one place to discuss the various majors/minors and gather information about campus resources and policies, and they can easily access services as they begin their enrollment at the University. The Advising Centers at both campuses work closely with other Student Services through meetings and/or referrals to the Academic Support Center, Career Services and the Student Success Coordinator.
Advising Center advisors assist students in the following specific areas:
- Developing a plan of study for General Education (Fall Semester 2007 this core became Academic Foundations) and lower-division major courses if the student has selected a major(s)
- Assisting with placement into appropriate math and English courses based on ACT or SAT and COMPASS or transfer course equivalency
- Selecting and registering for courses.
- Evaluating transcripts for lower-division course work. Upper-division courses are evaluated with assistance from faculty or academic departments.
- Providing information about General Education (Academic Foundations) and worksheets for major(s) and minor(s) requirements; preparing plans of study re Graduation Guarantee for Undergraduates
- Providing information and referral to campus resources and other Student Affairs offices as appropriate (i.e., Career Services, Academic Support Center)
- Assisting students in withdrawing from, dropping and adding courses
- Assisting in follow-up with students not in good academic standing
- Assisting with visits or calls to community and Tribal Colleges to meet transfer students
- Advising potential new students during Orientation and Preview Day events
- Offering additional support to West Campus pre-health majors not accepted into competitive programs through career advising and exploration of alternate majors
A Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory conducted by the University in
spring 2006 indicated that students rated Academic Advising of higher importance
than did students at peer institutions. A gap was identified between students’ level of
importance for advising and their rating of satisfaction with the service. While the
mean for this difference is not statistically significant, it does provide the opportunity
to improve advising services in order to increase student satisfaction. The SSI survey
used the term “advising” or advisor”; therefore, it is not clear if the student response
refers to the Advising Center advisor, faculty advisor or Student Opportunity advisor/mentor. At the West Campus, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) from 2007 indicated that all students surveyed have a similar satisfaction level (mean = 2.23 on a scale of 1-3) with academic advising as did among other comparison institutions and national data.
As a result of student concerns regarding advising identified through this survey, an Advising Task Force — one of the four Partners for Change groups — convened fall 2006. This task force, comprising six faculty and professional staff members, was charged by the CQI/Accreditation Steering Committee, Provost, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs with identification of all advising-related issues and recommendations for improvement of the existing model. Chaired by the director of academic advising and a faculty advisor, the task force reports to the CQI/Accreditation Steering Committee on a yearly basis or when information is needed.
In response to issues raised by the SSI 2006 and CCSSE and from students’ individual concerns, more walk-in advising hours have been added. The Academic Advising Center worked with the Advising Task Force to promote advising and registration weeks in both fall 2007 and spring 2008. Workshops for students and faculty and more information added to the updated website have increased knowledge related to advising for the University community; see www.msubillings.edu/advise/.
The Advising Task Force is reviewing peer institutions for comparison of advising structures, services and website features. Areas the Advising Task Force may recommend for improvement include:
- Updating the features in Banner to improve the degree audit information available to students and their advisors with Degree Works (part of Banner system).
- Providing comprehensive training for staff and faculty advisors to ensure complete, accurate knowledge of requirements, options, and expectations of students.
- Organizing structured Advising Week activities (completed November 2007).
- Providing Advising Manual resource for faculty, staff and students.
The SSI report on the East Campus from Spring Semester 2008 reflected higher satisfaction with “academic advisor knowledge about major requirements,” “academic advisor is approachable” and “academic advisor is concerned about my success as an individual.” These were significant increases in satisfaction from the .23 to .38 range. While this does not mean the Advising Center should not continue to work on these areas, it does indicate an increase in student satisfaction with services.
The spring 2008 SSI report on the West Campus reflected that gaps were still present, compared with 2006 data. However, it also reflected an increase in importance of “faculty advisor responsive to my needs” and lower satisfaction with “faculty advisor responsive to my needs.” Much of the student growth and prospective student inquiry at the West Campus in the last year has been directly correlated with the inception of the Associate of Science Nurse (ASN) Program. While this program was approved and started its first class in spring 2008, tentative program details created confusion for students until a final program was approved. The Advising Center will continue to work on improving communication and the physical layout of the advising space to be more inviting and responsive to walk-in traffic, while exploring means to increase communication with students and faculty regarding the Advising Center’s role and services.
- 6.10 List of Committees;
- 1.7 CCSSE Survey
The Office of Career Services provides comprehensive and centralized services to students in all Colleges; annually, Career Services reaches more than 4,000 students in 200+ class presentations delivered at both campuses. Career Services’ vision is “to be recognized as a leader in providing excellent, innovative, and comprehensive career and employment services to campus and community” and is achieved through its mission: “To equip all students to manage their careers; to promote faculty involvement in students’ career success; to connect employers with a quality workforce.”
Two professionals with master’s degrees meet with students by appointment
in career counseling sessions which may involve clarification of students’ interests, competencies, values, experience, personal characteristics, and desired lifestyles. In 2007-2008, 436 individual student appointments reflected the campus population: 76% of student appointments were with Caucasians, 3.4% with Native Americans, 1.8% with Asian Americans, 3.4% with Hispanics, 1.4% with Black students; 70% were women, 26% were men, and 3% did not identify gender.
Spring 2008 evaluations document student learning and customer satisfaction; 79% of students completing a “Report Card” evaluation of appointment services said they had “absolutely” increased knowledge about their area of interest; 88% said materials they received were “very helpful” and 86% rated their overall Career Services experience as “remarkable.”
Job Location & Development and Community Service Work Study
Career Services houses the Job Location & Development Program (JLD), funded through Federal Work Study (FWS) money. According to Federal regulations, the University may use up to 10% of its FWS allocation to fund JLD to locate and develop off-campus FT or PT jobs for currently enrolled students, regardless of their financial need. The FWS program pays 80% of allowable program costs, while the University pays 20%. In 2007-2008, JLD advertised 530 part-time jobs, and employers hired 161 students through the program. The average hourly salary was $9.31, and total potential earnings of participating students were $453,524.
To support JLD efforts, fall 2006 was the first YellowJacket Market, a part-time job fair at the start of the semester hosted at both campuses on consecutive days, linking students with local employers. Employer participation at the East Campus fall 2007 event grew 67% over the previous year. Employer participation at the 2007 West Campus event, constrained by space, grew 25% over 2006.
Under the auspices of the JLD program, Career Services also coordinates Community Service Work Study. Federal regulations require the University to use at least 7% of its FWS allocation to employ students in community service jobs, performing work which is in the public interest, at least one of which must be working in a family literacy project. Eligible nonprofit agencies may hire work-study students with federal work study paying 75% of wages and the employer paying 25%; the America Reads program pays 100% of tutor wages. Students are covered under University workers’ compensation and CSWS/JLD data are included in the annual Fiscal Operations Report & Application to Participate (FISAP) form that Financial Aid submits to the federal government. During 2007-2008, 70 students were hired through the Community Service/Work Study Program; 34 non-profit agencies participated in the program and advertised 90 jobs.
Employment of Graduates
A robust Cooperative Education internship program complements classroom learning with on-the-job experience and links to employment for graduates. This centralized service coordinates internships for students in all Colleges (except Education, which manages its own field experience program). Internships require completion of both learning objectives and a learning agreement, signed by student, employer, and faculty supervisor, which complies with best practices in the field. At the conclusion of each semester, every student is evaluated by her/himself, by the faculty supervisor, and by the employer. Available online, newly revised evaluation forms document workplace and academic competencies which address learning outcomes.
With assistance from Career Services & Cooperative Education, 245 unduplicated students earned 893 internship credits in 2007-2008; they were supervised by 48 faculty. Spring 2008 saw a 25% increase over spring 2007 in internship credits earned, primarily due to recent partnerships with the Colleges of Allied Health and Technology. The University, students, and employers are committed to the value of these experiences, so continued strong growth in this service is expected, which will eventually require hiring additional Cooperative Education staff.
A service available (though diminishing in use) is the credential file. For a fee, students may establish a credential file to support their job search, a service primarily used by education majors. In August 2006, Career Services launched CareerLink, an online job-posting system purchased from CSOInterfase. Students pay no fee to search for jobs, upload résumés and other job search documents, register for interviews, etc. Likewise, employers use it to post jobs, manage their corporate profile, register for events, schedule interviews, and search for candidates. In its first 20 months of service, more than 1,500 businesses posted 3,300+ part-time and fulltime jobs; over 1800 students registered and actively used CareerLink.
Career Services has long hosted two major career events each year, designed to link students with career employment opportunities. Every February, Career Service partners with local employers and a private liberal arts college in Billings to host the Career Fitness Fair attended by ±60 employers and 500 students. Annually, just before graduation, Career Service hosts Teacher Recruitment Interviews for education majors seeking teaching and counseling positions the following fall. This event attracts about 40 school districts and 150+ students and alumni. With completion of the new COT Health Services facility, which includes a 300-person central meeting hall, Career Services plans a new TechExpo event for West Campus, fall 2008.
In addition, Career Services conducts an annual survey to compile statistics about graduates’ employment or continuing education status. For the Class of 2007, 97% of BA/BS survey respondents declared themselves “placed,” and graduates employed full-time in their major field of study earned, on average, $31,928/year. West Campus graduates employed full-time in their major field earned, on average, $30,266/year; 96% of respondents said they were “placed.” Because it documents salary data and geographic location of graduates using their degrees, this report is used extensively by New Student Services and other offices in touting the value of an education at MSU Billings and in complying with the “Student-Right-to-Know” Act.
Evidence: 1.5 Career Services Annual Reports & Graduate Data
Student Health Services (SHS) is an ambulatory health-care facility available to all students. On the East Campus, it is located between the two residence halls and is open for nine hours daily, Monday through Friday. All current students are eligible to utilize the Student Health Services; students pay a mandatory one-timeper- semester health services fee if they take seven or more credits, while this fee is optional for students taking fewer than seven credits. There are no other charges for services provided by SHS, other than immunization fees and allergy shots. Students can utilize Health Services even if they are not enrolled in the student health insurance plan or have no health insurance at all.
The East Campus SHS facility includes exam rooms, doctor’s office, and mental health professional offices. Medical care is provided by two full-time RN’s, one of whom is College Health Certified. Clinical care is provided three hours a day during the academic year and 1.5 hours a day during the summer sessions by Physicians and Mid-Level Providers who are contracted from St. Vincent’s Healthcare. All the contracted providers also practice elsewhere in the community.
Students may see medical providers by appointment, but walk-ins are allowed as time permits. Limited laboratory testing is available as a waived lab with microscopy provided by a CLIA-certified provider. While SHS offers neither pharmacy nor radiology services, these are easily accessible in the community. In addition, the nurses staff a clinic at the West Campus for two hours a day, four days a week. In this venue, SHS provides immunizations, consultations and care for simple illnesses and injuries. The projected enrollment increase at West Campus will require additional space for SHS; currently many students are sent to the East Campus for service.
MSU Billings is committed to supporting students’ psychological health and employs two half-time professional counselors, one with a Master’s in Social Work, the other a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor; the cost of counseling services is included in the Student Health Services fee. These SHS counselors see students by appointment for 50-minute sessions. There is no limit to the number of sessions a student may see a counselor, and there is seldom a waiting period of more than a few days, contingent on the student’s class schedule. If the counselors feel that a student would benefit from the use of medication, they discuss this with the SHS medical providers and arrange an appointment for the student. The counselors are available to consult with the Resident Assistants and faculty as needed; they also maintain private practice in the community.
The Student Wellness component of SHS employs a full-time Health Educator who acts as advisor to the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) group on campus. Programming includes drug and alcohol misuse and abuse, tobacco issues, social norming, nutrition, stress relief, depression and anxiety, breast cancer, fitness, relationship issues, and abstinence/sexuality. In 2007, Wellness had contact with 6,138 students plus website hits/visits.
The Health Educator works with many campus departments and community health-related agencies to provide students with current information about health concerns. Programs are both informative and creative, encouraging participation by the student population. Through Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students (BACCHUS), the SHS was able to hire a student to help with tobacco prevention and peer education activities for AY 2006-2007 semesters. Student Wellness receives technical assistance from the BACCHUS office in Denver.
The Student Wellness office assesses student health behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions every two years by conducting classroom surveys. Administering the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) to voluntary participants, MSU Billings obtains information on and develops plans to address the most pressing health issues students face. Based on 2006 survey data, several areas of concern emerged, many of which involve alcohol as well as depression and sleep deprivation. MSU Billings Student Wellness follows the guidelines of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) report “A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges” (2002). The Insight Program, although open to any student, is geared primarily toward students who violate the alcohol policy in the residence halls. Facilitated by a licensed chemical dependency counselor, this 2.5-hour class teaches students norms for alcohol and other drug use from the NCHA data and helps them examine the role alcohol is currently playing in their lives. Wellness has a strong relationship with Housing and Residential Life, and frequently presents resident programming for alcohol and related issues, including sexual health, sexual consent and assault issues.
To address depression, MSU Billings participates in the National Depression Screening Day each fall semester. An on-campus mailing for faculty provides information regarding Health Services programs, counselors, local resources, and possible “warning signs” of depression in students. In collaboration with local resources in suicide prevention, HEROES (Health Educators Reaching Out to Encourage Success) hosted an educational event in January 2008 where Student Health Services mental health counselors were available. Spring 2008, the SHS website was revamped to include more information on depression and suicide.
Sleep programming is a new area, and plans include borrowing or modifying successful social norming campaigns used at other universities. Educating HEROES peer educators and RA staff on this topic allows targeting on-campus students. Revamping the Health Services website to include more information on sleep will help to address this issue.
In summary, health issues for MSU Billings students involve alcohol, depression, and sleep, and best-practice approaches (such as the Insight Program) are used in addressing these issues. Continued collaboration with other universities and departments when developing and implementing new strategies will enhance current programs.
Evidence: Tour of the East and West Campus clinic facilities
The mission of the residence halls is to provide a safe and secure environment for students while supporting their learning and academic success. Programs promoting student development and learning are held on individual floors, as well as throughout the residence halls. The MSU Billings housing program, a member of the AIMHO region and ACUHO-I, follows the guidelines for housing programs as established by those organizations. These professional standards are the basis for annual goals and objectives.
There are two residence halls and 10 family-housing apartments. Rimrock Hall houses approximately 150 students in primarily single rooms; Petro Hall houses approximately 350 students, primarily in double rooms. Floors are organized as single- or double-occupancy and upper-level students (juniors and seniors) are typically housed together. Fall 2008 will debut the first theme floor for Honors students. All residence hall floors are co-ed except for one all-female floor in Petro Hall. Future initiatives involve creating theme-based floors and living/learning communities that connect academic and student affairs initiatives.
The housing staff include a director, an office manager, two FT live-in hall directors, one FT night-watch staff, seventeen Resident Assistants, five Desk/ Night-watch Staff, one RTA (Resident Technical Assistant-student IT worker), and one student maintenance worker. All staff complete a thorough training session prior to school, and weekly staff meetings are held for discussion and for additional training. The RA staff completes a one-credit class during fall semester that addresses leadership and mentoring, as well as other relevant topic. The residence hall staff work closely with the custodians to ensure that all areas are maintained and cleaned. The lead custodian routinely inspects all areas and meets with the director staff weekly to address any areas of concern.
Students’ safety and security in the halls is a priority. They gain access to their hall by using an electronic hand reader; front desk in Petro is staffed 24/7. In addition, the RAs and director rove buildings on a regular basis, as do University Police. Night watch staff are also responsible for safety/security of the main entrances during late night hours, and the maintenance staff also routinely complete safety inspections. Currently, revision of the campus Emergency Response Plan aligns with the Residence Hall Plan. The RA staff are trained in emergency response and practices emergency situations and fire drills during training.
Each Resident Assistant is evaluated every semester in a two-part process. Part one is directed at the RA and work s/he has done with residents on her/his floor. Part two focuses on evaluating overall housing services and other related student services. The RA completes a self-evaluation, and the hall director completes an evaluation; then the hall director meets with the RA to discuss the evaluation, including students’ evaluations. Because the RA plays a significant role in the retention of students living on campus, every effort is made to ensure s/he is doing a quality job at addressing the needs of the students.
RAs and hall directors develop a full calendar of programs that address student learning, engagement and student development. Each RA must complete 6 programs each semester that are planned for their individual floor (2 social, 2 educational, 1 community service, 1 outside resource). The RAs divide into 3 committees to plan 3 large-scale all hall programs each semester. The hall directors develop between 6-8 educational workshops each semester that address student learning (campus safety, academic success, date rape, alcohol and drugs). The Residence Hall Association (a student led organization for residence hall students) plans approximately 15-20 programs each semester both in the residence halls and in the community. This fall, individual evaluations and learning objective reports will be completed for all hall and floor programs.
The Residence Hall Association has approximately 10-15 student leaders who serve as a representative board from the residence halls students. They plan programs and events, provide input and feedback on residence hall concerns, and serve as the voice of the students living on campus.
To appropriately plan for students’ housing needs, data on various aspects of the residence halls are collected. For example, occupancy data identify average semester occupancy, new/returning students and single/double occupancy. These data help drive decisions related to budget and income and help to establish budget numbers for future planning. In addition, occupancy data guide long-range planning: longrange building upgrades, numbers of single and double rooms needed, student satisfaction with living on campus and marketing materials for on-campus housing.
In 2003, the University determined from student feedback that residence halls required network connections. A self-funded model was developed and sufficient connections were installed to service each bed. In addition, the phone system in the residence halls has faced decreasing use because of student preference for cell phones. As part of the campus VoIP phone conversion, it is now possible to allow the students the option to have a phone in their room. This provides local calls and the ability to participate in the campus emergency communication system. The model supports annual maintenance of the equipment, Resident Technical Assistants, and periodic equipment replacement.
Residents’ feedback is directed to the appropriate campus areas. The director of housing meets with the custodial and maintenance supervisors to outline any areas for improvement, based on the evaluations. Changes to policies, services, or programs are often made based on the student feedback received each semester. A newsletter given to students after the survey thanks them for their feedback and explains any resultant changes or reasons for not making changes. Over the years, many decisions, programs, and services have been based on the data gathered from semester surveys. Feedback related to U-card or Dining Services is shared with those specific offices.
When students move out of the residence halls and are not returning the following semester, they are asked why they are moving and about satisfaction with services, which helps to identify significant trends. Most students indicate they are satisfied with the services, but they are looking for a different living option. Although currently suite- or apartment-style housing is not offered, student data help in longrange planning. Students often indicate that costs of housing and meals are an issue; rates are regularly reviewed and often adjusted. When compared with similar schools in the area, room rates are reasonable, with one of the lowest meal plan rates available. Many of our students are paying for school with little financial assistance from family, so cost of room and board is of primary concern.
Evidence: 3.9 Residence Hall Handbook
MSU Billings contracts with Sodexho Dining Services to provide dining services on the East Campus in the Rimrock Café, LA Coffee Shop, Stinger’s Coffee Shop and on the West Campus. Sodexho also provides catering services at the East, West and Downtown Campuses. Services are available to both resident and nonresident students; in 2007, for example, food service transactions at all sites totaled $1,339,100, which only includes retail and residential dining.
Resident students are required to purchase one of five meal plans that include “all you care to eat” dinner meals and ala carte breakfast and lunch options. As a contracted food service provider, the company regulates all staff and training and is routinely inspected by the local health department and NSF International to ensure maintenance of health and safety standards.
Sodexho managers are Servsafe-certified, as are some staff members. Monthly self-audits (completed by management and staff) evaluate food safety. Employees attend training on safety and food compliance at the start of each semester and monthly training sessions. MSU Billings Sodexho Dining Service exceeds all state and Federal nutritional standards. Students may access nutritional information at www.balancemindbodysoul.com.
Weekly meetings to discuss food service for residents are held between the Sodexho general manager and the Director of Student Life and Housing. The district manager meets regularly with the MSU Billings administration. Monthly reports include financial, program, safety, survey, and other data, including NSF International audits. Catering satisfaction surveys are sent with invoices to all customers; AY 2005-2006 and AY 2006-2007 ranking in all categories consistently exceeds 9 (scale of 10). Monthly “Lunch with Your Manager” meetings offer regular contact with traditional and nontraditional students, and food service concerns are addressed. Based on these meetings, Sodexho has adopted student suggestions for availability of more vegetarian options at LA Express and adopting the Cinch program, which entitles non-board meal customers to program discounts.
The fall 2007 Sodexho Survey indicated that MSU Billings students had a higher rate of satisfaction and found more value in their meal plans than students from regional institutions and all national Sodexho accounts. Overall satisfaction was 62% at MSU Billings, 50% at regional institutions, and 48% at the division level.
Evidence: 3.12 Sodexho Information
Sixty student organizations and clubs play an active role in student life and offer leadership and participation opportunities in academic, honors, religious, special interest, and other areas. All registered student clubs complete annual paperwork and work closely with the Student Union office to ensure accessibility to programs and activities. Weekly events sheets and bulletin boards are distributed throughout the University and online so students are aware of available programs and activities. Students interested in starting new student organizations or clubs complete the process with assistance from the Student Union office.
The Office for Community Involvement (OCI) strives to connect students to service opportunities as a way of enhancing their collegiate experience, both in and out of the classroom. OCI works with faculty within various departments across campus to provide Service Learning opportunities for students, to not only enhance their in-classroom learning experience but to connect them within the community. In addition to Service Learning opportunities, OCI works with faculty and departments to implement the AmeriCorps non-stipend program, which is targeted to students who are in the community providing a service as a result of their academic program (Student Teaching, Nursing Clinicals, etc.). This program enables students to look at their experiential learning opportunity in a more integrated way with how they are serving a vital role in helping to meet some critical community needs (healthcare, education, poverty, etc.). Students who successfully complete their AmeriCorps term are awarded an education award to use within the higher education system for current or continuing education! During the 2007-2008 year, we successfully awarded $154,000 in education awards to students enrolled in this program.
The OCI staff works with students in various capacities and through multiple program to integrate the spirit of volunteerism and civic engagement. Students have opportunities when they join a student organization, when they become a resident in the residence halls, when they are a part of the Student Volunteer Organization, when they join AmeriCorps or on an individual basis to engage in many ways in the community through OCI sponsored programs (Service Saturdays, Adopt a Resident, Discover Zone After School Program, Blood Drives, Trick-or-Eat Food Drive, Martin Luther King Jr. Day Ceremony and Service Day).
OCI, Housing, the Honors Program and VCSA are currently developing a plan House with eight to 10 honors student residents that will include a co-curricular programming relationship with the Honors program and faculty. The second program will be an Honors Floor in the residence halls that will focus on freshman or upper-class students who were not admitted to the Honors House due to space limitations. This program will also involve a co-curricular program with the Honors faculty and include programs and activities in the residence halls.
Traditionally underrepresented students may participate in a variety of programs like the Student Opportunity Services Activity Club (TRiO), which hosts campus and community events. Annually, SOS presents many academic/life management workshops and brings agency representatives to campus to connect student participants with resources in the community.
MSS advises the Inter-Tribal Indian Club, which hosts annual cultural events like traditional tipi raising, traditional eagle feather usage, and the Pow Wow. Other events occur through collaboration with campus and community organizations to recognize Martin Luther King Day, Warriors’ Honoring Ceremony, and American Indian Heritage Day. The American Indian Business Leadership organization, in conjunction with the College of Business, meets with Tribal AIBL program members. Both student clubs also participate in the campus’s annual International Food Fair.
Evidence: 3.7 List of active student clubs and organizations
All student organizations and clubs receive a copy of an operating manual that contains all the University policies and procedures, forms to complete, financial information and University information. The Student Union staff conducts a training session at the beginning of each year teaching members about University policies and procedures, budgeting and financial policies, programming and planning staff advisor who assists the organization; these advisors are also given the necessary information to assist the student organization. Monthly newsletters and information are distributed by the Student Union staff to student organizations and advisors.
Evidence: 3.15 Student organization manual, student organization newsletters
The role of the MSU Billings Recreation Activities Program is to complement
the academic mission of the University by providing a variety of structured and
informal recreational activities for a diverse student population. The Intramural
Sports Program provides a variety of competitive and noncompetitive activities for
students. Participants can sign up for league and tournament play for both team
and individual events. Contests are scheduled in the late afternoons and evenings to
accommodate the largest number of participants. Team sports are offered seasonally
in basketball, dodge ball, flag football, softball, indoor soccer, volleyball, tennis and
ultimate Frisbee. Leagues are usually available in co-ed, men’s and women’s formats.
Individual sports are offered seasonally in league play and one-day tournaments in racquetball, golf, tennis and skills contests. Additional sports are provided less regularly, dependent upon interest.
Intramural facilities are located in the PE Building, the indoor tennis center and Bjorgum Field. The PE Building and Bjorgum Field can be accessed from the East Campus through a pedestrian tunnel under 27th Street. The PE Building houses two gymnasiums, four racquetball courts, an indoor running track, a six-lane swimming pool, locker rooms and a fitness center. The fitness center is equipped with cardio, free-weight and selectorized machines. The indoor tennis center includes four tennis courts inside an inflatable bubble.
All outdoor sports can be played on Bjorgum Field with modifications to game rules for safety and/or playability. The new softball field, CENEX Stadium, is available for intramural sports, and the new soccer field at the West Campus became available for multiple sporting and recreational events in spring 2008.
The Leisure Recreation Program provides students with a variety of informal and leisure activities that are available during scheduled times for all currently enrolled students. The PE Building fitness center is open seven days per week. During Fall and Spring Semesters, the facility is open 90 hours per week from Monday through Thursday from 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. All facilities used by intramural sports are available for leisure recreation.
Evidence: 3.16 Recreation Activities website www.msubillings.edu/ recactivities
MSU Billings operates bookstores at all three campus locations. The main store is located on the East Campus in the Student Union Building (Jackets and Company); the West Campus store is located at the College of Technology (Jackets and Company West); and a third store is located in Downtown Billings (Jackets and Company on Broadway). In addition, an online store, www.jacketsandcompany. com, was established to serve students, faculty and staff and to provide a wide array of educational materials and University memorabilia. All stores are organized under an umbrella organization, Jackets and Company. The stores support the educational mission of the University by providing required textbooks, supplies and supplemental educational materials.
Jackets and Company supports the mission of the University in the following ways:
- Providing required and recommended educational material in a costeffective manner that guarantees the lowest educational costs possible. Each term, faculty are asked to submit lists of required and recommended educational needs; this information is used to determine the merchandise mix that will be available for students. Through aggressive processes, Jackets and Company is able to provide the most complete selection of required materials and a moderate selection of recommended titles to the campus community. Sales of recommended titles have decreased steadily over the past few years because of local and online competition. Jackets and Company has adjusted inventory levels in response to this increased competition and offers considerably fewer titles than were offered five years ago.
- Collaborating with faculty to make timely textbook decisions allowing for aggressive textbook buyback and purchasing methods that provide maximum used book availability, to encourage the use of the same textbooks over several semesters, to encourage the usage of older editions, and to find alternative selections at reduced cost
- Discouraging the use of bundled textbooks that contain anciliary materials that students do not use
- Working closely with industry organizations to promote textbook affordabilty
- Supporting campus organizations that support student life
- Supporting campus groups that foster social interactions among students
- Providing financial assistance and support to the University and its
- Promoting the University and its programs to the downtown Billings community by actively engaging in community events
- Engaging in orientation activities
- Celebrating student accomplishments at commencement
- Promoting school spirit and supporting athletic events and programs
All policies and procedures are established by the management with administration and are published annually in the Student Handbook, and General Bulletin and online through the University and store websites. Policies and procedures are based upon input from students, faculty, staff and administrators. Faculty are sent correspondence each semester and asked to submit recommended materials to be stocked.
Students are surveyed regularly, and their responses are used to improve merchandise offerings, hours of operation, refund polices and shopping convenience. The most recent campus survey was conducted spring 2008.
Any surplus revenue generated from the operation is invested by the University’s Financial Operation Department and held in reserve until needed. Revenues are also disbursed to campus groups and departments through in-kind donations of goods and services in support of their activities.
The operation distributes $14,000 annually to the Foundation for scholarship awards. In addition, the operation provides full and partial book scholarships to the Athletic Department each year, an estimated $20,000 award annually.
The operation undergoes a complete audit annually by the University and its contracted outside auditing firm. In addition, the account is audited regularly as part of the annual Legislative Audit of the university System.
A Bookstore Advisory Committee, formally established in spring 2008, will meet each semester to review policies and procedures and to make recommendations for enhancing operational effectiveness and educational support. The committee includes students, faculty, staff, administrators and bookstore personnel.
The Publications Board serves as an advising body for the MSU Billings student newspaper, The Retort. This includes the Chair, ASMSUB Vice President, Retort Editor-in-Chief, and a minimum of seven students at large. The Board assists the Editor-in-Chief of the paper in producing a publication reflecting established journalistic guidelines, quality and ethics.
The Board complies with BOR policy (Board of Regents of Higher Education Policy and Procedures Manual, Policy 506.2, Item #5) to ensure that student media operate free from censorship with protection under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Fall 2007, funding for The Retort was eliminated due to budget shortfall as projected by the loss of online-only fees. Plans call for its reinstatement in fall 2008.