"The University System is not only supporting President Engstrom in moving forward with this plan that he has announced, but we are insisting on follow through with it, and progress under it."

That's the unequivocal statement from Deputy Commissioner Kevin McRae from the Montana Board of Regents office regarding a question as to whether the board is standing behind University of Montana President Royce Engstrom and his leadership in the three years that enrollment has been declining.

McRae said the Board of Regents is providing assistance to the university in a variety of ways.

"We advocate strenuously for state funding for the university system, and once that is provided, the rest of the funding must come through tuition," McRae said. "A campus that is experiencing enrollment decline is not having a state funding problem, but it does have a tuition funding problem. This last legislative session once again we secured record funding for the University of Montana. By comparison, UM's state funding comes in at $63.2 million compared to $52.6 million five years ago. So, by comparison, we have increased state funding by 20 percent over the past five years, even though the enrollment has declined by 15 percent over the same time period."

"Right now, UM's revenue is $13,800 per student, if you combine their state funding with their tuition, compared to $10,800 five years ago. We have provided some insulation from the volatility of year-to-year enrollment decline," he said. "Our allocation model uses a three year model based on resident student enrollment. So, if enrollment dips, you still get a three year window of protection against that volatility."

McRae said he understands the frustration over the enrollment reductions on campus and in the community, but the Board of Regents is standing behind President Engstrom is his efforts to deal with the problem.