Defining Education that Works - Montana State University-Northern

Defining Education that Works - Montana State University-Northern

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Mission, Vision, and Core Themes


MSU-Northern, a teaching institution, serves a diverse student population

by providing liberal arts, professional and technical education programs

ranging from certificates through master’s degrees. The university promotes

a student centered and culturally enriched environment endorsing lifelong

learning, personal growth and responsible citizenship. The university

partners with a variety of community and external entities to enhance

collaborative learning, provide applied research opportunities, stimulate

economic development and expand student learning experiences.

Approved by the Board of Regents on September 22, 2011


Montana State University-Northern will be known for its supportive,

student-centered environment in which a unique mix of academic

programs are responsive to local, regional, and state workforce needs,

offered in an atmosphere that promotes student success.

As selected by the campus community on April 16, 2012

Core Themes:

1. Comprehensive Programs: Provide liberal arts, professional and

technical programs that serve a diverse student population.

2. Student Success: Promote student centered and culturally enriched

environment which fosters student success.

3. Inclusive Partnerships: Partner with external entities to enhance and

expand learning experiences.

The Work of the MSUN Assessment

and Acreditation Committee

During the 2012 Spring Semester, the MSUN

Assessment Committee met together to research

and develop a campus-wide assessment plan, based

on Peggy L. Maki’s book, Assessing for Learning:

Building a Sustainable Commitment (2010) across the

institution which examined 16 steps to a comprehensive

assessment cycle. The Assessment Committee

members divided into two sub-committees: one

focused on assessing programming and the other

reviewing unit operations. Sub-committees met every

two weeks and the full Assessment Committee met

once each month. As an end result, the institutional

assessment plan culminated in the creation of the

Student Learning Assessment Plans (SLAPs) for all

certificate and degree programs and Unit Continuous

Improvement Plans (UCIPs) for campus-wide

departments providing support services to students.

The institutional assessment system (SLAPs and

UCIPs) was built electronically and housed on the

Institutional Assessment inter-site.



Creating Excellent Programs

Through Program Prioritization

Montana State University-Northern has a mission to

serve a diverse student population by providing liberal

arts, professional, and technical education programs

ranging from certificates through master’s degrees.

With few new resources available for investment in key

priorities, the university must use existing resources in

the most efficient manner possible. In order to increase

the effective use of our limited resources, the university

academic leadership, Academic Senate, Academic

Council, Deans and Chairs, and Provost reviewed and

prioritized programs to place them on a continuum

from grow to maintain to integrate/revise to phaseout.

This prioritization process creates a roadmap for

investment and reallocation over time and into the


The Results

Seventy-four (74) existing programs at all four levels

(certificate, associate, bachelor, and master) were

reviewed between both Colleges; Of these,

•Nineteen (25.67%) have been identified to grow (i.e.,

to have additional resources directed toward their


•Twenty-six (35.14%) have been identified to be

maintained at current levels of staffing and funding;

•Four (5.41%) have been identified to be reduced in

scope or integrated into another program; and,

•Twenty-five (32.78%) have been identified to be

placed into moratorium or terminated.

Our process of academic program prioritization—of

evaluating our academic offerings for relevancy to

the needs of our constituents—is firmly in line with

ongoing efforts to achieve both our mission and


•Our mission emphasizes the provision of “liberal

arts, professional and technical programs” that

“expand learning experiences.”

•Our vision statement projects a future in which

MSUN will offer “a unique mix of academic

programs [that] are responsive to local, regional,

and state workforce needs.”

Decisions on each academic program and identification

of the three new programs recommended for

development are clearly aligned with the institutional

mission and vision and build on the strengths of


Link to Program Prioritization:


Link to Chancellor’s Decision:


Promoting Student Success

As part of our focus on student success, Montana

State University-Northern has retained the Services of

Noel-Levitz, a national consulting firm specializing

in higher education, to work with us on two specific

projects: recruitment and retention. In the second of his

six visits to campus, Dr. Charles Schroeder, the former

vice president for student affairs at Georgia Tech and

our retention consultant, reported on his work with

several members of the campus community via focus

groups and through the newly-formed Student Success

Improvement Team.

Based on these campus dialogues and on

data provided by the university, Dr. Schroeder has

recommended five strategies to serve as the focal points

for our retention efforts:

•Help students better understand their financial


•Establish a robust learning communities program;

•Design comprehensive performance support systems

that improve academic and social success;

•Enhance advising processes; and

•Create an ethic of service excellence throughout the


Additionally, as part of his first report, Dr.

Schroeder cited as a significant factor contributing to

MSUN’s efforts to improve its retention programs the

“hard-working and committed faculty and staff, many

of whom attended MSUN as undergraduates and feel a

deep and abiding loyalty to the university.”

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Overview of Improvements

January 2012 - July 2013

•Armory Gymnasium Renovation

New floor, bleachers, and paint

•Student Union Building Renovation

Interior and exterior paint

New Fireside Conference Room

New student senate offices

Bookstore renovations

•New Food Court

Popular new menu

Remodeled dining space

•Cowan Hall

New paint, new landscaping features

•Residence Hall improvements

New curtains for every room, new flooring

and paint

•New Bio-Energy Advanced Fuels Building

•Circle of Honor dedicated

•Classroom Updates & Improvements

•Branding and Marketing Efforts

New logo and graphic identity, signage

Re-designed website

•“Pride Patrol”

New employee recognition programs include

“Faculty Focus” and “Staff Spotlight”

•New Scholarship and Student Excellence Award

Ceremony format

•Recruiting and Retention

Partnering with Noel-Levitz consultants

Re-writing website content

Increase in enrollment

•Future Plans

New Student Learning Success Center

Renovation of tennis courts

Stabilization of Donaldson Hall

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