Board of Regents

Montana State University President Waded Cruzado addresses the Montana Board of Regents on Nov. 16, 2017, in the Strand Union Building on the Montana State University campus.

The Montana Board of Regents will hold a closed-door meeting this week to conduct annual job reviews for the University System’s top three leaders.

The regents will meet Thursday in Clancy and hold an executive session to review Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian, University of Montana President Seth Bodnar and Montana State University President Waded Cruzado.

They are three of the state’s highest-paid employees, each earning $313,845 annually.

The commissioner earns $150.88 per hour. State Fund CEO Lawrence Hubbard, who earns $164.42 an hour according to the state’s employee transparency website, may be the only state employee earning more.

In July last year, the regents voted to reduce proposed pay raises for 80 top university administrators and coaches, including the three executives, from 2 percent to 1.5 percent because of state budget cuts and belt tightening.

Pay raises aren’t on the regents’ agenda when they meet this Thursday and Friday in Helena. However, the regents are planning to vote on updating the way they review top executives and the regents’ own work.

It has been about 20 years since the policy was updated, and the new one is intended to be clearer, said Blair Fjeseth, communications director for the regents.

It calls for annual job reviews in July, with the commissioner and presidents each submitting three- to five-page reports on their performance, reporting on progress toward the regents’ strategic goals and setting a reasonable number of goals for the coming year.

The new policy also calls for including comments from two or three internal university people and two or three outsiders, to be chosen by consultation between the commissioner, regents’ chair and vice chair.

Other items on the short public agenda Friday include MSU’s plan to refinance $19.8 million in bonds originally sold to pay for renovating the Student Fitness Center, Black Box Theater and Strand Union Building, and UM’s plan to spend up to $2.3 million to remodel Eck Hall’s Liberal Arts classrooms using private donations.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at 406-582-2633 or gails@dailychronicle.com.

Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

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