The College of Letters & Science wants to start offering night and weekend classes. The marching band wants to replace old instruments held together with duct tape.
Colleges want to bring in more Ph.D. students, expand undergraduate research and help professors who want to get students engaged in the larger world beyond Bozeman.
Those are just some of the 104 proposals submitted from all over Montana State University, seeking a share of $2 million set aside in the budget to achieve MSU’s strategic goals.
“We set aside the money because we value campus ideas,” said Terry Leist, vice president for finance, who heads MSU’s Budget Council. “We want people to participate, with new ideas that would benefit Montana State.”
The Budget Council will meet Tuesday to come up with its recommendations to President Waded Cruzado, who has the final say.
There isn’t enough money to fund all 104 proposals. So in January, the Budget Council invited advocates for 34 ideas to give five-minute public presentations and answer questions.
Some 65 ideas didn’t have enough initial support to invite them to the public hearings. The main reason, Leist said, is that they didn’t line up well with MSU’s strategic goals — such as making the Bozeman campus bigger, better, more sustainable and able to help more students graduate or make a difference in the world.
Last year, the first time the call for proposals went out across campus, MSU offered $1.2 million, and people submitted 74 ideas. Cruzado approved 16, starting with expanding mental health services to keep up with growing demand from students.
This year’s proposals offer a glimpse of problems across campus, as well as opportunities to improve and expand.
The career services office, for example, asked for $412,000 over three years to find the 15,000 former students who dropped out of MSU since 2002 and persuade some to return to finish their degrees.
That was one of five proposals deemed so detailed that public hearings weren’t needed. Athletics asked for $417,000 to replace aging equipment for student athletes, from computers to barbells. Another proposal was $355,000 to expand a popular freshman class that visits Yellowstone Park and gets students excited about research.
Some $600,000 was requested to improve handicapped access in the music, arts and architecture buildings. And $300,000 was needed to move MSU’s personnel department from Montana Hall’s cramped basement to a larger space in the Tech Park. Human resources is already moving, Leist said, but what’s not yet decided is where it will be covered in the budget.
Student President Kiah Abbey, one of 15 Budget Council members, said students are excited about the marching band’s plans to improve and expand. Band members brought a sousaphone, held together by duct tape, to the public hearing, Leist said.
Several proposals would buy new software, including expanding DegreeWorks. Provost Martha Potvin said last week that DegreeWorks, already being tested, should really help students at all four MSU campuses succeed by showing how their classes fit on a path to graduation.
Other proposals include: attracting more engineering Ph.D. students; bringing more Native American students into science and engineering; hiring more teaching assistants for large chemistry classes; and supporting Educators Without Borders, a new program to send MSU students out to teach internationally.
Gail Schontzler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 582-2633.