Office of the President

As I return in a new role to this community — the University of Montana — I want to add my personal voice to our community expression of values. Words have meaning. As our University Non-Discrimination policy states:

The University of Montana has a long tradition of, and a deep commitment to, academic freedom. The welfare and strength of the University, and of society-at-large, depend upon the ability to engage in free expression in the search for meaning.

 In the spirit of a true university environment, individuals are encouraged to invite, rather than inhibit, discourse on ideas.


This is a new year, a new moment for our University and, frankly, a crossroads for our nation. We have to make the choice whether or not to embrace communication, education and awareness of our differences and of our similarities.

I choose to embrace and invite conversation. I invite it in tones that do not intimidate. I invite it in ways that are civil. I invite it in ways that support learning and understanding.

We are all here to learn and to grow. I encourage different viewpoints because they challenge our biases, and enable us to acknowledge and embrace different lenses. In doing so, we must safeguard against actions designed to silence communication and harm opportunities to learn, teach, research and work. Those kinds of actions are not our values on this campus.

This University belongs to all of us — not in spite of our multitude of experiences, political perspectives, national origins, backgrounds and identities— but because of them.

As a community, we at the University of Montana share the responsibility each and every day, to promote learning, facilitate opportunity, demonstrate integrity, and show compassion. We are here to learn, to listen and to take care of one another.


Sheila M. Stearns