Falling enrollment prompts big changes at UM - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Falling enrollment prompts big changes at UM

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(MTN News photo) (MTN News photo)

There are 201 jobs on the cutting board at the University of Montana as falling enrollment is putting a strain on finances.

The numbers show that enrollment has decreased by almost 5,000 students since 2011.

The falling enrollment numbers spell financial trouble for UM, and President Royce Engstrom presented a number of budget cuts to an open forum on Tuesday evening.

"Our general fund budget is built almost entirely on enrollment based revenue sources.  With the subsequent decline in enrollment, we're now in a personnel-heavy state, if you will. With more employees than our revenue sources can support and too much of our available money spent on
people, leaving an insufficient amount for operating expenses," he explained.

To alleviate the pressure mounting on the university's budget, a student-to-faculty ratio of 18-to-1 is being implemented.

"Both of these ratios are more favorable than what we had in pre-recession years.  And they are more favorable that what we had during our peak
enrollment time period," he explained.

Cuts to the school administration will also be made, according to Engstrom.

"This includes eliminating the graduate dean, which we have already done and merging the alumni office with integrated communications which is
underway, and facilities administrations decreases which is underway as well."

Cuts will be made to a number of programs, including but not limited to journalism, foreign language graduate programs and the humanities. However, Engstrom makes it clear that humanities programs will not be removed completely.

"We are adjusting the size of some of those humanities departments, but we are not doing away with the humanities in any sense of the word at this
university.  They are central to who we are."

Not all changes include cutting jobs and programs as a new vice president for enrollment management and student affairs will be hired by this spring.

"This national search will produce an individual who has demonstrated an effectiveness in modern recruiting and admission strategies, and who can
build a highly productive team," Engstrom said.

The deans of departments to be downsized will meet and discuss their options in the future and say the last thing they want to do is remove teachers.

(original story)

University of Montana President Royce Engstrom has announced layoffs and program cuts in an afternoon press conference. 

According to the announcement, a total of 201 jobs will be cut, including 52 faculty and 149 non-faculty jobs. Enrollment is down 6.5% from last year, dropping almost 1,000 students since last fall.

Engstrom says academic programs that have experienced substantial enrollment reductions will be targeted for "staffing adjustments". Some of those programs include journalism, English, geography, liberal studies and art.

Some programs will be cut or will undergo serious renovation such as energy technology, graduate programs in foreign languages and consolidating of the broadcast and journalism degrees into a single journalism degree.

Engstrom says the layoffs and program cuts are to align the enrollment and financial resources at UM and to position the university for the future.

MTN News Eric Clements will have a complete recap from today's announcement on the 10 p.m. News. 

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