MISSOULA – University of Montana President Seth Bodnar is encouraging not only faculty, staff and students to weigh in on the proposed plan to trim $10 million in spending, but also Missoula and the broader Western Montana community as a whole.
The University Planning Committee has come up with recommendations to dramatically re-align UM’s course offerings, administration and staff to compensate for what’s called a “strategic deficit” in on-going operations costs.
And Bodnar says now is the time for the campus, and the broader community to say what they think.
“This is great for our students. This is great for this community. This is great for our state," Bodnar said. "What we’re doing is we are re-shaping this university to best meet the needs of our students. That involves change. That involves allocating resources differently to meet where our students are studying and what our students need. So this is a great thing for this university overall. There are some tough challenges and I don’t take those lightly.”
The plan could consolidate or eliminate dozens of courses, and lead to more than 50 layoffs. But Bodnar and the UPC believe pairing the cuts with changes will make the university stronger, and more attractive to future students.
Since Tuesday’s announcement, some are already complaining about a lack of “transparency” as the plan was developed. Bodnar believes the UPC has actually set the stage for a transparent debate over the details.
“A key element of this university is shared governance," Bodnar said. "And we have some decisions that we need to make as a community. We have an initial set of recommendations aimed to re-shape this university to best meet the needs of our students. But we want our faculty’s input. We want our staff support. We want out student’s input. And now we’re entering the phase of getting that.”