State of the University: Bodnar emphasizes “steady progress” moving forward

Posted at 4:57 PM, Aug 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 18:57:52-04

MISSOULA – In his first State of the University speech since being president of the University of Montana, Seth Bodnar wants the school to focus on "steady progress" as it moves into the future. 

And he says that progress will include continuing steps to boost enrollment at UM.

Unlike in years past, Bodnar invited leaders of the university’s shared governance groups: Mariah Welch from the Associated Students of UM; Matt Semanoff, chair of the Faculty Senate and Luke Alford, chair of the Staff Senate, to speak as well. 

Jon Harbor, the new Executive Vice President and Provost says it will take different thinking than in the past.

"So the reality is that in many academic institutions the first priority when it comes to student success is just academic progress,"Harbor said. "The big difference that we’re making is to look holistically at student success. At the integration of all of those other things that students are doing on campus in addition to taking courses. Taking courses and making academic progress is absolutely key, but that’s the whole life of the student."

The pair also discussed the university’s list of achievements and changes coming this year, although some of those concepts are still in draft mode. 

Bodnar said his vision for the university’s future centers around five key priorities:

  • Place student success at the center of all we do.
  • Drive excellence and innovation in teaching, learning and research.
  • Embody the principle of “Mission First, People Always.”
  • Partner with place.
  • Proudly tell the UM story.

Bodnar says administrators are continuing to review the number of faculty in each department compared to how many are actually needed to sustain a good quality of education in each department.

"In some areas that will mean less faculty. In some cases that could mean reductions in tenured faculty in specific areas," Bodnar said. "In other places it means we will be adding faculty and we will be having faculty that are planning to retire that we’re launching new searches for faculty to replace those. So it’s a re-balancing of resources and that means reductions in some areas and additions in others."

The speakers announced the addition of more than 11 new faculty members and promotion of more than 57 others.

The 2018 State of the University address was broadcast live by Missoula Community Access Television and may be viewed on their website.