life of a great institution, 10 years hardly amounts to a moment. But for an individual,
10 years marks a significant period. I returned to The University of Montana as president
in August 1990. Since then, I have found innumerable reasons to celebrate the wonders of
moving from student to president. My admiration has grown for the dedication, commitment
and accomplishments of the faculty and staff who indulged my inevitable, but hopefully
infrequent, mistakes and helped propel the University forward.
This report looks retrospectively and
from differing perspectives at the events and developments of the '90s decade. When asked
about the extent of the construction work that occurred, I typically explain that I do not
have an "edifice" complex, no matter what anyone says. The effort grew from the
recognition that students, faculty and staff require adequate and appropriate facilities
to realize their potential and serve the state, region, nation and world. What we have
done together has made it possible for students to thrive and for faculty and staff to
achieve some truly remarkable accomplishments.
What of the future? Have we achieved all that
we can anticipate? Do we need now simply to hold steady? No! We must strive to ensure the
continued development of the University as a research-oriented, doctorate-granting
institution that offers a quality undergraduate education. Realizing that objective will
demand creativity and ingenuity in identifying resources to support such an institution.
By 2005, I envision the University as even
more student-centered in that we take seriously our commitment to provide an education
second to none. During the next few years, we will identify the skills, insights,
understandings, attitudes, competencies and knowledge that educated people of the 21st
century will need. And we will develop the means to help our graduates prepare for life in
an increasingly technological and interdependent global society. Building on the
foundations we have established, we can educate students for meaningful and rewarding
lives by engaging them as citizens while they study so that they can develop those
"habits of the heart" that make good citizens. I have great confidence in that.
And if we succeed, our communities will flourish.
In the next five years, the University will
have developed the facilities and infrastructure to sustain a funded research program in
excess of $55 million annually and the awarding of more than 50 doctorates per year.
The faculty researchers and their
graduate student assistants will maintain a careful balance between basic and applied
research so that the University always has something to apply. The graduate students will
exceed 3,000 of the total student population of 13,000, while American Indians and
international students together will account for some 2,000 of the total. The program
inventory will have changed in response to opportunities and needs, with a decided shift
toward the environmental and health sciences.
At the same time, an emphasis upon regional
and human concerns will provide the foundation for a flowering of the arts, humanities and
social sciences. Finally, I believe we also will see a coming-together of the K-12 sector
with higher education so that students of all ages -- from 5 to 90 -- will perceive the
much heralded, but seldom if ever realized, "seamless educational web."
Ambitious as it sounds, I believe that vision
attainable, based upon our accomplishments to date. However, we will need resources to
make it happen. In part, they must come from the state, since the University takes great
pride in its status as a public institution committed to the public good. The leverage
from increased state funding provides assurance of success in attracting funds from
external agencies and the private sector to support the vital work of the faculty, staff
It makes eminent sense for the state to
initiate such an investment in order to realize the educational, economic, intellectual,
social and cultural benefits that great universities provide. In the past, I often have
commented that we cannot have great societies without great public universities, but that
we cannot have great universities without significant support from the private sector. We
now have come to understand the reverse of that proposition, that we cannot have
significant private support without appropriate investment by the public.
The University in partnership with its
constituencies -- students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends -- can make the difference
for Montana as it moves into the 21st century. I look forward to working closely with you
as we pursue that worthy goal.