Ever since University of Montana President Royce Engstrom announced his proposed plan for staff and budget due to reduced enrollment, a steady stream of criticism has been heard from some faculty and staff members. 

Now, UM Provost Perry Brown, in an interview with KGVO News, responds to those criticisms. First, Brown says there are certain facts that must be faced by all at the university.

"We are in a situation right now where, per student, we have the highest number of faculty members and the highest number of staff people than we've had in many, many years," Brown said. "Certainly, when we're done with the adjustments that we're making, we will still be staffed higher than we have before, but we cannot sustain the level of employment we have at the university with the number of students that we have right now."

At a meeting Tuesday afternoon of the faculty senate, Brown said President Engstrom made it clear that the entire university must pull together during a difficult time.

"One of the things the president made absolutely clear is that we're talking about an entire university issue, we're all in it," Brown said. "He said we all need to work hard and focus on what we can do. It was a broad-based discussion. Some people made statements and others asked questions. and they were responded to by either the president or myself."

Brown addressed the continued criticism of the size of the university's administration, and why deep cuts have not been proposed to help offset the budget crisis.

"The president addressed that yesterday, because it did come up and it is not a fact (that the administration has grown too large). The fact is that over the last eight or nine years, we have added one administrative position, and that is all," he said. "And, we have added many more staff people and many more faculty than that. In fact, if you look at comparable universities in neighboring states, our administration is about 60 percent of the number of administrators at those comparable institutions."

Brown assured the community of Missoula that, despite the present troubles, the university will remain a vibrant part of its culture and success.

"Prior to the recessionary period, we were a good, strong, high quality university," Brown said. "As we went up in enrollment, we staffed up. Now that we''re down in enrollment, we have to staff down to balance the budget, so that's what we're going to do. We will be stronger than we were prior to the recession, we will be stronger than we were at the peak of our enrollment. We will have more staff, more faculty than we had prior, when we had the same number of students. So, we'll actually be better off. At the meeting, the president announced both short and long-term plans for the university and what the vision is for the future, to make this university even stronger and to continue to be the excellent institution it has been and continues to be today."


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