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University of Montana program review enters next phase - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

University of Montana program review enters next phase

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MISSOULA - University of Montana deans, departments and administrators will have a week to respond to program changes proposed by a special campus task force.

More than 400 programs, both academic and administrative are being reviewed in an attempt to better allocate funds.

The programs are under full review by a task force that is trying to find and fix any disproportionate funding in an effort to help the university function more efficiently.

It's a long process, and there's still a lot of work to be done, but it's the hope of everyone on the task force that UM will benefit from these actions.

A total of 412 programs and services are under prioritization review as part of the ongoing efforts at UM to ensure funds are appropriated efficiently and with purpose.  

The programs are separated into four prioritization categories: considered for growth and development, considered for development or modification, considered for substantial modification and programs for which there's insufficient evidence.

Interim University of Montana President Sheila Stearns says this kind of prioritization is common but adds that this is the first year UM has done it in such a transparent way with multiple reviews.

"We are always prioritizing anyway. Every year. It will just be more informed this year. It will be more specific. And more of those affected will have had a say in the process." Stearns said.

Stearns likens the process to the one taken by the Oakland Athletics depicted in Moneyball.

"A walk is really a better thing than we used to realize. And it would cause them to make their investment Dec.isions in both financial and human resources a little differently. Same here," Stearns explained.

Task force member and UM Faculty Union President Paul Haber says they're currently at a critical stage in the process, "we've done the initial review of the programs, they're ranked into categories, we're moving toward a recommendation phase."

But what those recommendations will look like is the big question.

"What kind of recommendations should we make? What should be in that range? And what are we able to do given what we know and what we don't know?" Haber asked.

Deans and program heads have until Nov. 15 to respond to the preliminary review and then the task force will take two weeks to come up with revised recommendations. The UM cabinet will then have to review the findings before any changes can be made.

More meetings and deliberations to take place from Dec, 1 until Dec. 14. Stearns is expected to announce decisions on Dec. 15.

RELATED: UM President to announce “next steps” in budget cuts

RELATED: Quick deadline for UM committee reviewing programs

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