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Message from the President

 Celebrate Academics (February 22, 2013)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

On February 13, we celebrated Charter Day, the annual event recognizing the establishment of The University of Montana. This was a special year, as the University is now 120 years old. The vision of the founders in 1893 was remarkable, and I imagine they would be thrilled to see the tremendous institution UM has become.

We put on a special birthday party this year called "Celebrate Academics on Charter Day." We wanted to focus attention on the excellence and innovation of our academic programming. UM's outstanding reputation of challenging and stimulating academics was definitely on display last week!

Highlights included a student presentation on Energy Technology, which showcased solar projects and the EcoMarathon solar car designed and built by Missoula College students. Music students performed in the University Center. Other students presented on health and human performance, discussed their study abroad experiences, and described a winter geography course about mountains held in Polebridge, Mont.

Faculty innovation was on display as well. Classes across campus were open to visitors, as was the Mansfield Library. And we held a special series of faculty sessions about teaching, which included discussions about Facebook, ecological restoration, student research in linguistics, technology in the classroom, and digital textbooks.

Peter Schmidt from Gladstone, N.J., gave the keynote address in the afternoon. He won a recent contest sponsored by The Chronicle of Higher Education titled "Build Your Own College." The contest asked for innovative designs of what a college should teach in today's world. Peter's entry was the "College of the Global Village." His award-winning ideas have much in common with UM's own Global Leadership Initiative -- a wonderful reinforcement that UM is on the right path in thinking creatively about education for today's students.

We also announced UM's first Programs of National Distinction. Selected from more than 30 proposals, these programs are already nationally known. This new designation will allow us to provide resources to help these programs enhance their reputation and be among the very best in the nation. The awardees are Wildlife Biology, Creative Writing, and Organismal Biology and Ecology. In three years, we'll name more Programs of National Distinction.

"Celebrate Academics" was the result of planning by the Office of the Provost. The culminating Charter Day ceremony itself, coordinated by the Office of Alumni Relations, allowed us to recognize ten individuals from among our faculty, staff, administration, students, and community who have given so much to the University. The recipients had their own stories to tell of the impact of UM on their lives.

"Celebrate Academics on Charter Day" was a remarkable way to focus on our rich academic heritage as one of our nation's great universities and a delightful way to celebrate our 120th birthday.


Royce C. Engstrom
The University of Montana