A University of Montana professor has stated in an email sent to KGVO News that UM has "lost the enrollment battle" with MSU, and that the rules in that competition for in-state students must be changed. 

UM Chemistry Professor Doug Coffin said the university system has two flagships by definition.

"They are universities by the fact that they don't just have undergraduate programs," Coffin said. "The University of Montana has a law school, a pharmacy school, physical therapy, social work, clinical psychology, and an outstanding business school. The same goes for MSU, they have the architectural school, agriculture, engineering, and all those kinds of things. It's always been a competition between the campuses for resources, for money."

"The legislature gives us millions of dollars and the Board of Regents divides up the money by enrollment," Coffin continued. "The situation between UM and MSU has reversed over the last few years, and that's where the Board of Regents has to step in and see that the university system as a whole, grows and that it thrives.That we don't get one university thriving to the detriment of the whole system. Twelve of the 14 campuses in our system have declining enrollment and are losing money. That's not success."

Coffin said MSU was brilliant in its timing to escalate its in-state recruiting during the sexual assault investigation crisis at the UM.

"President Waded Cruzado was very shrewd," he said. "Right in the middle of the sexual assault cover-up at UM, which was our fault and part of our problem, she doubled her budget for recruiting in-state students. It was a master stroke, and that was the beginning of the huge advantage. Remember, three-quarters of the monies on these campuses comes from tuition.The Board of Regents needs to end that, and make sure that students are recruited to enroll in the university system and choose a university based on its merits, and not just that it got 10 more mailers from one than the other."

Coffin is appealing to state officials to intervene in the enrollment battle and equalize the playing field.

"We need leadership from the governor, obviously, he isn't going to make that policy, that's up to the Board of Regents, but we need some guidance from him. We need him to step in here and say, 'look folks, we need a successful university system, not just one campus'. It's imperative that the governor and Commissioner Christian to straighten out some of these policies and make sure that we lift all boats."

Coffin invites the public and especially community leaders to attend Friday's student rally on the UM Oval at 12:00 noon.

Attached find the email message sent by Professor Coffin