August 19, 2008


Dan Carter, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Less than two months before its next comprehensive accreditation review and following a year of remarkable accomplishment, Montana State University Billings Chancellor Ron Sexton on Tuesday urged faculty and staff to embrace the unique character of the university in the coming school year.


“Ours is a phenomenal story and you have to tell that story,” Sexton told a crowd of about 275 faculty and staff at the annual university-wide opening meeting. “It’s better than fiction because it’s true and it involves real people.”


Sexton made his remarks as part of his State of the University speech prior to the opening of the academic year. MSU Billings faculty members reported for work this week and are involved in a variety of training, planning and department meetings.  Students begin moving into residence halls on Sunday, Aug. 31 and classes begin for the 2008-2009 academic year on Wednesday, Sept. 3.


Speaking in the great hall of the MSU Billings College of Technology new Health Sciences Building — officially dedicated last March — Sexton talked about the achievements and accomplishments of the university that went beyond bricks and mortar.


His remarks, titled “Reasons to Be Proud and A Great Story to Tell,” Sexton talked about the people at MSU Billings who worked over the past year to bring about positive change at MSU Billings. He thanked the work done by members of the Academic Senate budget committee to develop a balanced budget for FY2009; praised the work done by the steering committee that developed the self study for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities next accreditation visit scheduled for Oct. 13-15; noted work being done for accreditation at the College of Business and College of Education; and thanked faculty members who have been working on transferability issues in collaboration with colleagues in the Montana University System.


Sexton also noted new academic programs approved last year in areas of outdoor leadership, political science and criminal justice that will help prepare professionals in those fields in the coming years and praised the efforts by student affairs staff and others to improve student recruitment, success and retention.  The chancellor noted that in September 2007, MSU Billings was the only unit of the Montana University System to report an increase in headcount over the previous year.


He also said that while the accomplishments are notable, the road ahead will provide challenges. He listed salary issues for faculty and staff as well as potential budget constraints that will develop in the 2009 Montana Legislature as areas of concern.


Regardless of what happens among political decision-makers, however, MSU Billings faculty and staff should not be afraid to share the feats of their colleagues.


“This story needs to be told,” he said. “You have a great deal to be proud of.”