BOZEMAN — Montana State University has more than 15,000 students enrolled for the first time in the school’s 120-year-old history.
“The future is bright,” said President Waded Cruzado. “There are many wonderful things happening.”
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Cruzado made the comments during a speech Wednesday on the state of the university to more than 200 professors, staff and students.
Cruzado said the university has hired more than 46 new faculty members, and that students have won prestigious awards that include Goldwater, Marshall and Rhodes scholarships.
Cruzado also noted new projects that include the Blackstone Entrepreneurship center and Jabs Hall that will be the new home for the College of Business. Other plans include a new 400-bed dormitory and requests to the Board of Regents to elevate the honors program to the status of a college.
Preliminary numbers show the school could have as many as 15,389 students this fall, though a final number won’t be available until Sept. 25. That would be a 4 percent increase from last year.
Robert Marley, interim vice president for student success, said the school will likely have its largest share of Montana high school graduates along with an increasing number of out-of-state students.
He said the growth is causing stress and strain on faculty, but noted it’s that faculty that is drawing students.
Despite more students, the schools research spending dropped 17 percent this year from the previous year’s $93.7 million. Anne Camper, interim vice president of research, said federal budget cuts and the end of stimulus money were part of the reason for the drop.
The decrease in grant money has resulted in a $2.5 million shortfall in the research office.
“My fear is a downward spiral,” said Valerie Copie, chemistry associate professor. “I worry we’re going to lose momentum.”
Cruzado said she has “absolute support for research. As for the current challenges, she said it’s “an opportunity to come out stronger . as we continue to move Montana State University from good to great.”
Some professors said they were concerned about the school relying on non-tenured instructors.
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