An act of Congress of Feb. 18, 1881, dedicated 72 sections (46,000 acres) in Montana Territory for the creation of a University.
Montana was admitted to the Union on Nov. 8, 1889, and the Montana Legislature soon began to consider where the state's permanent capital and state university would be located. To be sure that the new state university would be located in Missoula, the city's leaders made an agreement with the standing capital of Helena that Missoula would stay out of the bidding for the new capital and would support Helena over its leading competitor, Anaconda.
Missoula won the legislative vote for the new university in February 1893 at the third Montana Legislative assembly. The University formally opened in 1895. While plans for a university campus were progressing, classes were temporarily held at nearby Willard School.
The South Missoula Land Company, owned by A.B. Hammond, Richard Eddy and Marcus Daly, joined with the Higgins family in donating land for the new campus. In June 1898 the cornerstone for A.J. Gibson designed University Hall was laid and Missoula became "the University City."
The original plan of the University campus was designed by one of its first professors, Frederich Scheuch, who called for the central oval to be surrounded by immediate and future University buildings. Although Scheuch's plan called for all building entrances to face the center of the Oval, buildings were later constructed with three-story in the Renaissance Revival style, with hipped roofs and Spanish green roof tiles.
The first set of buildings were set up around the Oval in 1895. Since that time, various campus plans and architectural styles have been used. Today the campus consists of 220 acres and is bordered to the east by Mount Sentinel and the north by the Clark Fork River.
Oscar John Craig (1895-1908)
Clyde Augustus Duniway (1908-1912)
Edwin Boone Craighead (1912-1915)
Frederick Charles Scheuch (1915–1917)
Edward Octavius Sisson (1917-1921)
Charles Horace Clapp (1921–1935)
George Finlay Simmons (1936-1941)
Ernest Oscar Melby (1941-1945)
James Allen McCain (1945-1950)
Carl McFarland (1951-1958)
Harry Kenneth Newburn (1959-1963)
Robert Johns (1963-1966)
Robert T. Pantzer (1966-1974)
Richard Charles Bowers (1974-1981)
Neil S. Bucklew (1981-1986)
James Verch Koch (1986-1990)
George M. Dennison (1990–2010)
Royce Engstrom (2010-2016)
Sheila Stearns (2016-2017)
Seth Bodnar (2018- )