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UM's Student Union, aka Today's University Center, Has a Long and Storied History

The Student Union at The University of Montana has provided a place for the meeting of UM minds since the first such facility opened in 1935.

In the 74 years since, the Student Union has moved locations, changed names and seen thousands of students pass through its doors. Today’s Student Union – aka the University Center – will celebrate 40 years of service this year.

But no one had compiled a comprehensive history of UM’s ever-evolving community center. Until now.

UM French major Tonya Smith, UC special projects student coordinator, recently completed a year of research during which she read decades of archived Kaimins, interviewed some of UM’s most prominent alumni, tracked down rare photographs and toured the Student Union buildings of yesteryear with alumni guides.

The end result is a permanent display in Room 215 of the UC and a Web site,, which chronicles the role the Student Union has played for generations of Grizzlies.

Smith is seeking artifacts or personal photographs from Student Unions of the past to display in the UC exhibit. For more information, call Smith at 406-243-6357 or e-mail her at