The Montana Board of Regents will hold their next meeting in Missoula on the University of Montana Campus this Thursday and Friday, November 15 and 16.

Governor Steve Bullock is scheduled to address the meeting at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, to be followed by Montana Superintendent of Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

One of the topics to be discussed at the initial meeting is called the ‘Enrollment Dashboard’, a graph that shows the growth or decline in the numbers of students enrolled in the various members of the Montana University system.

The stark difference between the University of Montana and Montana State University can be seen by starting with the year 2010 when UM showed an enrollment of 13,368 FTE (Full Time Enrollment), while MSU showed their enrollment as 11,528. As the years went by, the graphs intersect with MSU rising to 12,091 in 2011, 12,754 in 2012, 13,456 in 2013, 13,855 in 2014, 14,823 in 2015, 14,803 in 2016, 15,124 in 2017 and in Fall of 2018 a present enrollment of 15,284.

Conversely, UM started with an enrollment of 13,368 in 2010, and then fell to 13.132 in 2011, 12,498 in 2012, 11,963 in 2013, 11,651 in 2014, 10,959 in 2015, 10,223 in 2016, 9,779 in 2017 and a present enrollment in 2018 of 9,057, an over 30 percent reduction in FTE.

Dealing with the reduced enrollment at UM has brought about a new President, Seth Bodnar, a new Provost, John Harbor, as well as UM’s second Vice President for Enrollment and Strategic Communications in the last three years, Catherine Cole.

Harbor discussed some of the steps being taken to stop the reduction in enrollment.

“The plans include reducing the number of general education courses,” said Harbor. “Quite frankly, we have too many, and too many small ones. Reducing the number and frequency of some elective courses, increasing some class sizes, and combining some sections. We plan on increasing some faculty teaching loads and reducing some course releases.”

Harbor faced the fact head on about reduced enrollment and offered some hope for the future.

“The University of Montana has a smaller student body than it did several years ago, and these plans will align our instructional staffing to our student needs and interests,” he said. “We will continue our tradition of providing amazing educational experiences and outcomes for our students. As we implant these plans, we will also focus our efforts on recruiting and retaining more students.”

The Board of Regents meetings are open to the public at the University Center on the UM campus.


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