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UM Recommendations Call For Elimination Of 51 Faculty Positions

University Hall at The University of Montana.
Josh Burnham
University Hall at The University of Montana.

The University of Montana today revealed preliminary plans to eliminate more than 50 faculty positions in order to bring its budget into balance.

The University calls its proposed recommendations a "Strategy for Distinction."

That strategy includes the possible loss through attrition of 51.5 faculty positions over the next three years. It also recommends retooling at several of UM’s colleges and professional schools, and an update of its administrative structure.

UM President Seth Bodnar says the plan, that’s been two years in the making, is aimed at nothing less than, "A reshaping of the University of Montana to best meet the needs of our students and the state."

University of Montana President Seth Bodnar talks to reporters about UM's future and his plans for tackling the university's budget shortfall, January 31, 2018.
Credit Eric Whitney
University of Montana President Seth Bodnar talks to reporters about UM's future and his plans for tackling the university's budget shortfall, January 31, 2018.

UM’s Enrollment has dropped nearly 30 percent since 2010. Since the university’s budget is directly tied to enrollment, this means it must identify millions of dollars in savings over the next several years.

The Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Department bears the brunt of this plan with the potential loss of 7.5 full-time-equivalent positions. English follows close behind with a possible reduction of 6 FTEs.

Seth Bodnar stresses these are only preliminary estimates and cautions people against jumping to conclusions.

"You’ll see numbers that align with specific disciplines, those don’t align with specific people. Because people that might be within one program could teach in another discipline," Bodnar says "These reductions are going to happen over a three year period and we expect a large number of these will happen through natural attrition."

Four of the plan’s 14 preliminary recommendations would update UM’s administrative structure, such as combining Student Affairs with the Office for Student Success.

Ten draft recommendations would directly affect UM’s colleges and professional schools.

One proposal calls for replacing 23 department heads in UM’s College of Humanities and Sciences with 10 division or department heads.

You can see the "University of Montana Strategy For Distinction" here, and leave your feedback here.

University administrator are hosting feedback sessions on it through April 26. Bodnar says final recommendations are expected to be issued sometime next month.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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