Senate Joint Resolution No. 2

Introduced By jergeson, holland, peck, mohl, waterman, toews, tuss

By Request of the Joint Committee on Postsecondary Education Policy and Budget

A Joint Resolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the State of Montana Urging Adoption by certain entities of Legislative Policy Recommendations on Higher Education.

WHEREAS, a legislative conference on higher education was held at Yellow Bay on May 4 and 5, 1996; and

WHEREAS, legislators attending the conference proposed that 10 legislative policies be investigated and that recommendations be made to the 1997 Legislature; and

WHEREAS, legislative leadership requested that the Joint Committee on Postsecondary Education Policy and Budget prepare a joint resolution addressing specific issues and recommendations for legislative policy in the 10 specific areas, which included:

(1) tuition and fees;

(2) resident and nonresident student mix;

(3) faculty instruction, research, and public service;

(4) benchmarking, accountability, and quality;

(5) public and private partnerships;

(6) communication among parties on higher education issues;

(7) the mix of 2-year and 4-year opportunities;

(8) financial aid;

(9) information technology and distance learning; and

(10) resident access to the Montana University System; and

WHEREAS, the Committee studied each of the 10 policy issues under the designated categories of undergraduate education; American Indian/minority achievement; student record-tracking system; instruction, research, and service; tuition, state support, and financial aid trends; and Administrative Services Task Force recommendations; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the designated categories, the Committee considered the following issues:

(1) the enhancement of undergraduate education through improved access, program efficiency, and the variety of available student choices, through state assumption of community colleges, and through nonbeneficiary support to tribal colleges;

(2) a student record-tracking system to facilitate student transfers between units;

(3) the development of a vision for the direction of the Montana University System and faculty scholarships based on instruction, research, and public service;

(4) tuition, state support, and financial aid trends, including issues related to state and student contributions for higher education; and

(5) Administrative Services Task Force recommendations, including interest earnings on university investments; elimination of bond assessment; minimizing printing service regulations; modifications to surplus property, procurement, and travel statutes; provision of self-insured workers' compensation coverage; provision of an optional retirement program for classified staff; delegation of authority for bad debt collection; deletion of statutory limits on parking fines; modification of construction regulations; and privatization of audit services; and

WHEREAS, the Committee has considered possible options under each of the issues of the 10 areas for which legislative policy recommendations were requested.


(1) That pertaining to the enhancement of undergraduate education, the Legislature recommends that the Board of Regents:

(a) plan to expand instructional and academic support functions to accommodate most resident students who are qualified in the peak enrollment years of fiscal years 1999 through 2005;

(b) plan to raise tuition for nonresidents and limit the number of nonresidents to those who can be accommodated after residents are served;

(c) plan greater use of telecommunications, nontraditional class times, and limited choices so that more students may be served at a lower cost;

(d) encourage more high school graduates to enroll in 2-year education programs, perhaps beginning a program while still in high school; and

(e) counsel, advise, and provide information to encourage students to enroll in the most appropriate educational program.

(2) That pertaining to a vision for the Montana University System, the Legislature recommends that the University System continue development of its mission statements, goals, objectives, and measurements to foster greater collaboration among the units, with input from the Executive and Legislative Branches.

(3) That pertaining to faculty scholarship, the Legislature affirms that the Montana University System continue to emphasize faculty productivity and salary rewards, particularly in instruction.

(4) That pertaining to state and student contributions for higher education, the Legislature recommends that:

(a) the Board of Regents charge nonresident tuition in an amount equal to the market price or the full cost of education in each unit, whichever is greater, to subsidize the costs of educating resident students; and

(b) student gift aid or other forms of financial aid be increased in response to increasing tuition costs and debt loads.

(5) That pertaining to the Administrative Services Task Force recommendations, the Legislature commends the Montana University System for its process in identifying administrative efficiencies and recommends continuation of that process.

(6) That pertaining to the calculation and use of reversions, the Legislature recommends that:

(a) the Montana University System operating plans and reversions be based on the same enrollment estimate agreed upon by the Legislature;

(b) the Board of Regents implement policies depending on the circumstances governing the distribution of nonresident tuition generated by student FTE in excess of those estimated; and

(c) the Montana University System be allowed to reallocate estimated resident and nonresident student FTE within the University System to offset errors in enrollment estimates at each unit before calculating reversions to the general fund and tuition reversions to the Board of Regents.

(7) That pertaining to the Joint Committee on Postsecondary Education Policy and Budget, the Legislature recommends that the fiscal year 1999 interim Committee monitor the trends in high school graduation, college enrollment, and tuition and consider the implications that they may have for policy decisions concerning Montana University System access and tuition rates.

(8) That pertaining to the Montana University System, the Legislature recommends that the University System:

(a) pursue public and private partnerships, such as private funding for research, public service, or information technology; authorize university leaders to serve on private company boards, subject to Board of Regents' policy; and encourage private company leaders to serve on university boards and task forces;

(b) and the Legislature continue improving communications among the Board of Regents, University System administrators and educators, students, K-12 educators, legislators, the Executive Branch, and the general public, using efforts such as a state of education address to the Legislature; an information fair; discussions such as those held at Yellow Bay; orientation for legislators; and assigning duties to the House and Senate Education Committees and the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Education that include joint meetings to discuss education policy;

(c) become competitive and efficient through the use of information technology in administration and education;

(d) continue to participate in the development of a long-range building program in which submittals reflect a coordinated approach for major maintenance needs, including a standardized evaluation of needs as well as a prioritization and cost estimate for each project; and

(e) aggressively implement classroom and program review policy.

(9) That pertaining to the Board of Regents, the Legislature recommends that the Board of Regents:

(a) establish a widely publicized, formal appeals process for dealing with complaints concerning credit transfer; and

(b) improve the focus of the Montana University System on service to and satisfaction of students.