University of Montana
December 30, 2020
MISSOULA — 2020 was a year of achievement, growth and grit at the University of Montana.
Over the summer, and as a result of a unique public health partnership and effort to advance a COVID-19 vaccine, UM was named one of the top 10 universities in the world when it comes to solving the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the UM College of Business again ranked as the top business school in the Big Sky; UM Online was recognized as one of the nation’s best undergraduate programs for veterans; and UM is again home to a Rhodes Scholar finalist.
As a result of renewed efforts to strengthen student support services, the UM student retention rate surpassed 75 percent, a seven percent increase in the past two years. Students at UM are more likely to stay on course to graduate because of bolstered academic advising, a reimagined orientation, new wellness and health care support and a reinvestment in learning centers. In addition, there are more graduate students enrolled at UM than ever before. In the fields of healthcare, law, education and other disciplines, UM graduate students are able to connect with the community in new, impactful ways.
In 2020, annual research receipts at UM exceeded $100 million for the very first time. In fact, research expenditures at UM have grown by more than 90 percent since 2014. UM researchers also received the single largest award in the history of the university to move forward with critical opioid alternative vaccine clinical trials in 2020. It isn’t just the world-class vaccine research being conducted by the UM Center for Translational Medicine that is driving this increase in academic research; UM researchers are hard at work studying hearing loss, muscle endurance, snowpack levels and their impact on farmers and anglers, and many other problems and challenges affecting Montanans.
The UM Foundation formally concluded Campaign Montana in 2020 – a seven-year private fundraising effort. At its conclusion, Campaign Montana raised more than $450 million in private support for UM, making it the most successful development effort in the history of the state. Throughout the campaign, donors stepped forward from all 50 states and pledged more than 100,000 individual gifts to support student scholarships, infrastructure upgrades, classroom improvements and faculty resources.
In regard to new infrastructure, UM made profound investments to enhance learning spaces and improve the student experience. For the first time in generations, UM refurbished the famed oval – the centerpiece of campus. With stamped brick and updated walkways, the oval is safer and more stunning than ever. UM also made significant improvements to Urey Lecture Hall, the largest shared learning space on campus to better meet the needs of students and instructors. Students also have a large range of new offerings on campus, including an updated Pantzer Residence Hall and a new dining facility and coffee shop named Rise and Rooted.
In addition to the renewal of physical spaces on campus, prospective students now have additional academic offerings to choose from. Most notably, UM launched a new undergraduate Public Health degree program. Dozens of students have gravitated to the new program amidst the pandemic and are playing an active role in the Missoula City-County Health Department’s response to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Missoula College, UM's two-year campus, launched a new paramedicine program in partnership with local first responders. Missoula Emergency Services is providing full scholarships for students to attend this program each year with the agreement that they will stay in the Missoula Valley upon graduation to fill the shortage of local first responders.