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BOZEMAN (AP) — Montana State University is losing five of its 12 deans, three of them to schools that pay better and two to retirement.

Three of the departing deans were among the highest-ranking, highest-paid women at MSU.

Provost Dave Dooley says the large number of vacancies results from a coincidence of factors — retirements by a couple of long-serving deans and other universities being attracted to high-quality administrators at MSU.

"We do compete in a national marketplace for talent, and unfortunately a great many institutions are capable of offering far higher salaries than we are," Dooley said.

Latest to leave is Agriculture College Dean Sharron Quisenberry. MSU's highest-paid woman, she has been making $119,843. MSU announced this week that she's leaving for Virginia Tech, where she will be dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Her salary at Virginia Tech will be more, Quisenberry said, but she declined to say how much.

Quisenberry said opportunity is the more important reason she took the job. Virginia Tech is a prestigious university with twice as many students as MSU. Its agriculture college is one of the top 10 nationally in funding.

Quisenberry is one of only four women in the nation heading colleges of agriculture. She said UV liked her record of increasing enrollment by more than 9 percent and quadrupling the college's grant funding in four years.

"It was a very rough decision to make," Quisenberry said. "I love Montana. … It's one of those career opportunities that only come around once in a lifetime."

Nursing Dean Lea Acord, who earned $112,998 at MSU, is leaving for a significantly better-paying dean's job at Marquette University, a Catholic school in Milwaukee, which will also be closer to her first grandchild.

Dave Bryant left in January to become president of Oklahoma Panhandle State University, which offered $121,000. He had been making more than $110,000. He was known as Extension Service dean, but Dooley said he actually was vice provost.

Retirement has claimed two deans, Marilyn Wessel, dean of the Museum of the Rockies, who was making $90,711, and Jim McMillan, dean of the College of Letters and Sciences. After eight years of being in charge of MSU's largest college, which paid $106,707, McMillan is returning to teaching.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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