Two members short, Board of Regents still hard at work


MISSOULA, Mont. - Recent government appointments mean there are two vacancies on the Montana Board of Regents.

Governor Steve Bullock selected Board of Regents Chair Angela McLean to serve as the new Lt. Governor, after appointing John Walsh to serve in the U.S. Senate.

McLean's departure and another board member's term expiring leaves two openings.

Seven members make up the Board of Regents. They manage and control the Montana University System.

Even with just five members they'll still get work done.

"Fortunately with our existing board we're stable," said Board of Regents member Fran Albrecht. "We've got great collaboration."

Albrecht was appointed to the board last September. She's the newest board member but she's well aware of the important role higher education plays in the state. That's why she says there no rush for Bullock to fill the positions.

"It is critical that he looks to find somebody who will really work well with our existing board and represent the opportunities and the perspective that will allow us to move forward," Albrecht said.

Albrecht and other regents will focus on some on the challenges and goals for the Montana University System this year. One of them -- enrollment. The University of Montana has seen a decrease in recent years while MSU continues to have above average numbers.

"Those will present challenges for the board of regents in the future," said Board of Regents member Jeffrey Krauss.

"We're going to continue to evaluate the strategies that are being implemented to ensure that the University of Montana for example is addressing enrollment in the best way and the most effective way possible," said Albrecht.

To help with that, Albrecht says all campuses should look at the programs they offer and what students are most interested in.

"Cleary there needs to continue to be ongoing analysis to ensure that we are offering the right programs," Albrecht said.

It's a lot of work and it's not always easy. With two regents out it's important for the board to stay focused.

"There are several of us that have been on there two years now, or three years now," Krauss said. "We'll be able to move forward with some of the initiatives."