Regarding the Spring Issue:

Abolish the Board of Regents?

Jack B. Jelinski
Modern Languages
Guest Editor, Spring 1996 Issue

In the last spring issue we discussed the issue of the proposed constitutional amendment, HB 229, dealing with the abolition of the Board of Regents. We stated our intention to see to it that "...the issues involved and the possible implications for the quality of higher education in this state are fully explored." Since that time the members of the editorial board have met with the governor, the commissioner, Martin Burke, and Jim McGarvey to hear their views on the governance of higher education. At that time, the governor suggested that the University System would fare better if administered by a department of state government directly accountable to the governor's office. Jeff Baker argued that the advocacy of an independent Board of Regents and Commissioner is essential for effective long-range planning and the best guarantee against the politicization of the administration of higher education. Both the governor and the commissioner have graciously agreed to publish position papers on this debate in our Spring 1996 issue.

In addition, Richard Barrett--Economics (U of M) and Sharon Eversman--Biology (MSU Bozeman) faculty participants in the "Collaborative Bargaining" negotiations on their respective campuses, will provide us with an insider's view of how this process has worked. These negotiations have been conducted within a unique framework of cooperation between the governor's office and the commissioner. Our readers will be able to draw some conclusions about whether or not this approach to bargaining should become a blueprint for the future. Martin Burke--School of Law (U of M), who served as a member of the State Government Committee on the Governor's Task Force to Renew Montana Government, will provide us with an essay characterizing the factors taken into account in the Task Force recommendations on education, one of which was "to separate education policy from politics." Jim McGarvey--President (MFT) and Eric Feaver--President (MEA) will provide us with the labor union perspective on the implications of HB 229 for higher education in Montana, and Chancellor Sheila Stearns--WMC (U of M) has promised us an article with the provocative title: "The Montana Board of Regents: Of Politics, Autonomy, and Academic Freedom." Finally, Richard Roeder--History (MSU Bozeman, retired), historian-at-large, has promised us an interview in which he will share with us some of his illuminating reflections on higher education in the state.

We are grateful to all those who have agreed to contribute to our Spring 1996 issue, not only for sharing their viewpoints, but also because the wide range of opinion will help to focus future discussions on the status of higher education in the state. It is vitally important that the view of faculty members be shared with all of us in the academic community. We invite all interested parties to contribute to the dialogue. All publishable contributions, letters to the editor, essays, articles and prophetic epistles from the hinterland are welcome.

Contents | Home