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Message from the President on Student Excellence (March 28, 2013)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

In the past several days, our students have demonstrated over and over their determination, their talent and their engagement as they have taken the stage in so many different venues. Here are just a few highlights:

Both basketball teams finished as undisputed champions of the Big Sky Conference, and UM hosted both men’s and women’s postseason tournaments for the first time since 2000. Thousands of fans came to Missoula and the Adams Center to cheer on these gifted players. As Griz and Lady Griz teams moved on to the national arena, they both took on formidable opponents. Tough games, but the teams represented the Grizzly spirit admirably. So did our UM Pep Band, cheer squad and dance team. We appreciate all these students’ dedication, energy and hard work in this championship season.

The Foresters’ Ball and its affiliated activities showcased the work of our students from the College of Forestry and Conservation. Again this year they transformed the Adams Center into a logging town in less than a week and hosted lively dances Friday and Saturday. The students were able to find the right balance between fun and safety, and they added two new public events – a Community Day and a Career Day – that brought people of all ages to campus to learn about modern forestry. The Foresters’ Ball is one of the great traditions of UM, and I am delighted to see our students continue to innovate, bringing new and different ideas to each year’s event.

The College of Visual and Performing Arts held its annual “Odyssey of the Stars” benefit earlier this month, recognizing Nancy Erickson as its distinguished artist alumna. The evening was a professionally produced program of entertainment and art, most of it performed and created by students. I am consistently awed at the level of talent we attract to The University of Montana, and it’s a joy to watch these performers in their element.

This past weekend the University Center was host to two wonderful and diverse events.

On Friday evening, the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences held its annual Partnership and Scholarship Recognition Dinner. Educators from across the region gathered to recognize current UM education students who received scholarships this year. These young people have demonstrated an energetic commitment to learning and will soon be in the classroom themselves, teaching the next generation of students.

On Sunday afternoon, the International Student Association put on its annual International Culture and Food Festival. People from the Missoula and campus communities packed the UC to watch performances from around the world, sample cuisine from many countries and visit booths designed by students to showcase their home countries.

The richness of the University experience and the diversity of students’ talents and interests were truly on display this month. These UM students are ambassadors for the University, showcasing what it means to be a Griz – dedicated, hardworking, passionate and talented in so many fields. They are supported by faculty and staff who spend countless hours encouraging, mentoring and coaching them toward their maximum potential. Our students are thriving, and they make us proud!


Royce C. Engstrom
The University of Montana