UM Aligns Budget While Preserving High Quality Academic Programs

September 27, 2018

MISSOULA – As the University of Montana continues efforts to align resources to most effectively meet the needs of its students, it today released a plan which details instructional staffing budget targets for the University’s academic units over the coming three years, while affirming the institution’s commitment to continued academic excellence.

“The University of Montana is committed to providing the highest quality instruction and a transformative student experience,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “We have fewer students enrolled at UM than we did 10 years ago, and fewer students means we require fewer instructional resources to deliver our programs with the same exceptional quality.

“This plan is the result of a multiyear process our campus has engaged in to align our resources to best meet the needs of our current students,” Bodnar said. “While our overall budget detailed in this plan is smaller, our per-student investment in instruction is higher in every school and college than it was a decade ago.”

In close collaboration with faculty, staff and student leadership, UM officials designed the staffing and budget plan by analyzing average student-to-faculty ratios from 2009 to 2013. Using 2018 enrollment data, they determined the instructional staffing budgets that would be required to achieve similar student-to-faculty ratios today. Budgets for each academic unit were further adjusted based on strategic reinvestment considerations before the final instructional staffing budget targets were set for departments to achieve by the end of fiscal year 2021.

 “While we realize that this planning requires difficult decisions, we must adjust our instructional staffing to align with our enrollment,” said Jon Harbor, UM executive vice president and provost. “Even with these new budget targets, UM will still be spending more per student than we did 10 years ago. We can make these adjustments and still maintain – and even enhance – the high quality of our programs and student experience.”

Harbor noted that the plan balances matching faculty-to-student demand and a set of strategic priorities. He said the plan builds on the work of the Strategic Planning Coordinating Council, the Academic Programs and Administrative Services Prioritization, and the University Planning Committee.

“This plan allows us to allocate our resources to best meet the needs of our students and the size of our institution today, while also ensuring that quality and excellence across our programs continue to grow,” he said.

Evidence of UM’s academic excellence abounds. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked UM the No. 1 university in Montana, and it listed UM’s College of Business as the best in the Big Sky Conference. Other recent academic achievements include UM’s Wildlife Biology Program being ranked as the best in North America by Academic Analytics.

Harbor said UM will implement the plan over several years, and that staffing targets are designed for attainment by June 30, 2021, in order to impact the FY 2022 budget.

 “Our goal was to provide as much time as we could so that deans and chairs can fully consider a wide range of options to support their programs, and then implement them over several years,” he said. “Planned faculty departures can also inform staffing plans.”

With the targets now released, academic units will develop recommendations for instructional staffing plans to meet the targets over the coming three years.

Instructional staffing budget targets are online at:


Contact: Paula Short, director of communications, UM Office of the President, 406-243-2311,