UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA, Missoula (Visited 7/23-24/2012)
UM has a classic university feel with big brick buildings and a large oval quad; it’s not only a beautiful campus, but it’s a manageable/ walkable size and it all seems to fit flow. As part of the counselor tour, we stayed in one of the traditional dorms for the first 3 nights. The rooms are a bit on the small side, but certainly livable. However, there was always a rush on the bathrooms which didn’t seem big enough to take care of the needs of the population on the hall. Some of the rooms were traditional doubles, and others were set up in “pods” – a common room with three single rooms off of it. None of the rooms had sinks, but the common rooms of the pods had a small fridge and microwave. None of the residential halls had AC, which students sited as one of the things they would change if they could. Only 2 of the dorms are higher than 4 floors, and all but 1 building are clumped together on one side of campus.
Sustainability and locally sourced food is a big deal here. They have a garden on campus, and the food goes to the dining hall. The PEAS farm, about 3 miles away, is used by the university. In addition to 90 CSA shares, they provide 15-20,000 pounds of food for food banks. They offer classes on the farm for the environmental science and agricultural students. The class can be repeated three times: spring, summer, and fall so that students get the full range of what happens on the farm. The man who runs the program wants it to be meaningful experience for the students, and he’s clearly passionate about what he does. The farm is not organic-certified, but it is an organic farm: “we wouldn’t be doing anything differently. We already willingly adhere to all the standards, and becoming certified costs a lot of money and makes me jump through hoops, requiring hours of paperwork that otherwise could be spent on the land.”
One of the biggest issues I saw was that this is a very white campus, although that mimics the town, as well. Native Americans make up the largest minority population, but even that is low – like single digits low. However, there are 500 international students from 75 countries; one of the students on the panel was from Kenya and when asked about winters in Missoula, she said, “if I can survive it, anyone can survive it!”
Mostly, students are really happy here. There’s a lot to do on and off campus. The Grizz-Cat (UM-MSU) rivalry is huge, and the annual football game sells out. One student said “I don’t even like football, but I look forward to the game every year!” Tailgating is huge, and people get really pumped up. School spirit is huge, and they turn out for a lot of games in different sports. They also like the accessibility of skiing and hiking, but say that even non-outdoorsy people fit in and find a lot to do. The movie theater is in walking distance as are restaurants, the local ice cream place, and pubs. Shuttles run frequently. First Friday (open art galleries) is popular. One of the on-campus perks that got a big shout-out is that there are resident IT students on call four nights a week who can be called to help trouble-shoot printer, internet, or computer problems. The biggest issues that students complained about was the parking situation(but that takes on an entirely different meaning here than on a really large campus), and off campus housing can be difficult to find, but not impossible. Most students find things close enough to walk or ride bikes.
- The Arts and Science college is the largest on campus with a lot of collaboration across departments and across colleges. Students can find their niche in the college but have the flexibility to try a lot of things. One of the most unique offerings in this college is Irish Studies which includes language study (the only place west of the Mississippi to offer it), culture, dance, etc. They offer exchanges with various places in Ireland. They also have a nationally recognized Native American Studies program in which student are engaged in the communities in Montana and around the country. Their Environmental Studies program is also nationally ranked, and there are lots of pre-programs (nursing, law, medicine), and advising for these programs is extensive. Their system of professional and faculty advisors for all majors is strong. The university also runs a biological research center on Flathead Lake (the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi). Why studying/doing research here, the students can live in university-provided housing.
- The School of Business offers all the traditional majors which can be found on the website, but two are worth a special mention:
- The Certificate Program in Entertainment Management (only Vanderbilt and Cornell offer this, as well). 600 students are enrolled in the program which is the most interdisciplinary in the business school. They’ve even been on the cover of Poll Star Magazine.
- The Entrepreneurship Program which is an Endowed program. Students participate in a statewide competition in which 50-75 business plans get sent in. They pick 15 as semi-finalists who come for 2.5 days to compete for the $10,000 first prize; all of them get to present to investors, so even without winning, they get exposure to potential funding.
- The College of Technology (soon to be Missoula College, Univ. of Montana) is a 2-year college attached to the main university. Students come from all over the country, and they become part of the university – they live on campus, they use all the facilities – so they get a two-year experience on a four-year Research-1 campus. They have access to smaller classes in 35 programs across five departments (including Applied Computing and Electronics, Culinary Arts, Diesel Welding/Heavy Equipment Operations, and Health Professions). Admission to the College of Tech only requires a HS degree or GED. If they earn 12 credits with a 2.0, they can transfer automatically into UM.
- The School of Health offers complete accredited programs like Pharmacy (including a 2-4 PharmD program or a 4-3 program if they come in with a BS in a related area like kineseology), PT, Public Health, and Social Work (both BSW and MSW). All accredited. Only programs in the state.
- In the Visual and Performing Arts College, students can do work in Fine or Visual Arts, Music, Dance, and Theater among other areas; they also have large offering for non-majors. Their $250,000 in scholarship money went largely to those majoring in the school, but some were offered to non-majors if they participated in marching band or for people who play “in-need” instruments. Many study abroad offerings for the majors include Vienna (Art History, Music, etc) and Bali. Dancers performed at Kennedy Center – selected 2/3 years to perform there. Some unique programs to be aware of are the Digital Art/Animation degree and the BFA in Sonic Art (recording engineers, sound in film or live concerts).
- In Education and Human Sciences, students come in as a major in the particular subject and then apply to pick up licensure. Other majors include Communicative Sciences and Disorders (with a clinic open to the public providing lots of research and hands-on for the students), Clinical and School Psych, Health and Human Performance (athletic training, exercise science, health promotion) and Work physiology and Human Metabolism.
- The Journalism School is one of the oldest undergrad journalism in the country. Students can major in print, online, photo, and multi-media areas as well as an interdisciplinary major combined with Native Studies. This is one of the schools that require internships, and students regularly get recognized with the Hearst Award. Over $110,000 in scholarships are awarded each year, largely alumni funded
In the College of Forestry and Conservation, students can mix disciplines such as education, environmental law, and computer applications. It’s important to know that most students in this field will need a Masters for a permanent position. Wildlife Forestry is the largest program in the college (about 40%), and students can focus on terrestrial or water studies. The newest major is Wildland Restoration which deals with reclaiming land, invasive species, and fire control among other things. Students interested in more of a business side can major in Parks Recreation and Tourism Management to become such things as Park Rangers, Land Stewards, or work in a Nature Conservancy. Students can do work over the summer in Fiji, India, Vietnam, and other places, as well as learn winter rescue techniques in Montana and White-Water rescue in Costa Rica.
- Finally, UM has opened up their Global Research Initiative to all students. When students are accepted to the University, they’re invited to express interest in joining the GRI. From that pool, UM gets a wide span of students and interests (not all business, not all honors, not all female). They look for a cohort that spans the range of majors and credentials. The pilot program took about 235 students in its second year. The program is privately funded, and they will keep it going as long as they can, which they hope will be a long time! Part of the program involves travel and international experiences; when accepted into the program, all US students will be given a passport (if eligible). Every year, the students focus on a specific project or theme:
- The 1st year revolves around small seminars (examples: Doing the Right Thing, Truth vs. Truthiness) in which they explore a big, enduring question having to do with public health, world poverty, economics, etc.
- The 2nd year moves into Models of Leadership. Students participate in retreats, lectures, workshops, etc.
- During the 3rd year, the program will help fund an internship, study abroad, research, or service learning (maybe pay for airfare, etc). Students have to do one of those.
- The 4th year is the capstone in which students work together in groups of about 15 on one of the big problems. For example: if they’re interested in malaria, they’ll be put into a multi-disciplinary group to problem solve, so they could be working with a biologist, linguist, business major, and education major. The project they complete could be an ad campaign, writing grants, etc.