MISSOULA – Crediting deans, chairs and faculty members for their hard work and dedication to students, University of Montana Provost Jon Harbor today announced the next steps in implementing a campuswide realignment of instructional budgets.
“This is a three-year process, and I am confident that the plans we’re implementing are sound, practical and actionable,” Harbor wrote in an email to students in which he described the process and key outcomes. In the same email, he noted that even with slimmer budgets, UM will invest more per student for instruction than it did when enrollment was much higher.
Under the plans submitted by the colleges and schools, the vast majority of UM’s current academic offerings will continue.
“In response to student feedback earlier this year, we asked the academic units to prioritize keeping a broad array of majors and concentrations as they developed their staffing plans,” Harbor said.
There are both planned reductions of faculty and additions in some areas. Overall, a net reduction of $5 million in expenditures for faculty on instructional general funds will be realized by the start of the 2022 fiscal year.
Reductions in tenured faculty will come from planned voluntary separation, including retirements, as well as some faculty members voluntarily moving to part-time and other sources of support.
There will also be reductions to non-tenured faculty, including adjuncts and lecturers. Harbor noted the specifics around personnel decisions are both a work-in-process and confidential, per University guidelines around employee privacy.
“The implementation timelines and other details are still being worked through by the deans and chairs in our academic departments,” he said.
An infographic on the provost’s website lists the proposed curricular changes in these plans, in which a small number of majors and options will be reconfigured or discontinued.
All current students will have a guaranteed path to complete their current degree and options, but UM won’t admit new students to programs that will be discontinued.
“Today, less than 2 percent of our students are in a program proposed for discontinuation, so we are making changes that respond to student interest,” Harbor said.
The plans also outline how academic programs will be supported with fewer faculty, including reducing duplicative courses, teaching some courses less frequently and eliminating or combining low-enrollment courses and sections, including some low-enrollment general education courses.
Harbor and UM President Seth Bodnar also reached out jointly to all current University employees to reaffirm evidence of UM’s exciting future.
“We look at UM’s current landscape and at our horizon with hope because we see evidence all across campus of our exciting future already taking shape,” they wrote. “We have confidence that our shared work is worthwhile, that we are capable and that momentum is building.”
The message included links that highlight UM investments in innovation, teaching and learning, the UM Core and Communities of Excellence.
Bodnar and Harbor concluded the message by writing: “And while the last few months have been difficult for our community, they have been necessary. The University of Montana is on the rise. And we look forward to working with you to ensure we continue to rise together for our students, faculty and staff.”
Additional informational resources are available online.
Provost Harbor’s email to students on instructional staffing plans:
President Bodnar and Provost Harbor email to UM employees:
Provost website with background on realigning instructional budgets: