Regents will hear College of Technology expansion plans

2012-01-18T00:15:00Z Regents will hear College of Technology expansion plansBy MARY PICKETT Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
January 18, 2012 12:15 am  • 

The Montana State University Billings College of Technology hopes to offer more general education classes this fall to pump up programs for students wishing to transfer to four-year degrees.

That’s just one part of expansion plans for colleges of technology in the state that will be proposed to the Montana Board of Regents later this week in Helena.

The Commissioner of Higher Education’s office asked colleges of technology in Billings, Helena, Missoula, Great Falls and Butte to report on how they plan to enhance two-year education as part of the CollegeNow initiative.

Drafts of those plans will be presented at regents meetings in Helena on Jan. 19-20.

Regents are expected to vote on the reports during their March meeting.

Although the MSU Billings COT has strong career and technical educational programs, it has a limited number of general education courses.

Most COT students now take general education classes at the four-year campus or online, said Marsha Riley, college dean.

The MSU Billings COT plan calls for expanding the number of transfer degrees, which would include increasing the number of general education courses in natural sciences, social sciences, history, arts and humanities at the West End campus.

The draft report also proposes to increase enrollment by seeking out underserved groups such as people with GEDs who might not have considered going to college and older students who tried college once and would like to complete a degree.

How the COT would provide more classes is part of the ongoing conversation with the regents, Riley said.

The MSU Billings COT is considering offering classes later in the day to use classrooms most efficiently.

The plan also calls for hiring a permanent coordinator for workforce development — who is funded through a grant — to help the college not only respond to requests for new programs from businesses and industries that need trained workers, but to anticipate future needs.

“We want to be more proactive instead of just reacting,” Riley said.

The MSU Billings COT has come a long way from the time it evolved from a vocational-technical school.

It has a library that partners with Parmly Billings Library, food service and excellent student services “that are second to none,” Riley said.

Contact Mary Pickett at mpickett@billingsgazette.com or 657-1262.

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