UM details South Campus plans as critics picket

2012-10-03T21:30:00Z 2014-10-03T14:28:22Z UM details South Campus plans as critics picketBy MARTIN KIDSTON of the Missoulian
October 03, 2012 9:30 pm  • 

An open house hosted by the University of Montana turned raucous Wednesday night when opponents of the school’s plans for the South Campus picketed the meeting and jeered officials for suggesting that education was more important than golf.

At the evening meeting, the university again shared its South Campus plans with the public, demonstrating how UM planned to grow over the next century on land it owns in the southeast corner of Missoula, roughly one-half mile from the main campus.

The first academic facility planned for the area, the current site of the UM Golf Course, would be a new three-story facility for Missoula College. The new structure would accommodate a larger student body in a setting more conducive to education and be located near the main campus to facilitate transfer between classes.

While no one spoke against the need for a new Missoula College, opponents focused instead on where to place the building. The well-organized opposition maintained that the college should be erected several miles across the city at Fort Missoula.

“If there was no other alternatives, then fine, they should put it here,” said Tana Combs. “But they do have alternatives on where to build it. I’m tired of seeing our open spaced choked off. We can’t have a concrete Missoula.”

Opponents to building Missoula College at the South Campus picketed the meeting, holding signs critical of the state’s plans to sacrifice the golf course for the sake of the college.

Protesters heckled and booed UM President Royce Engstrom when he addressed the crowd and suggested that education was more important than golf.

“The fact is, when it comes down to it, we have to prioritize the education of the next generation of students over golf,” Engstrom said, receiving a round of jeers from the crowd. “I’ll be happy to talk with you on any level of detail you’d like. We’ll develop this campus with as much potential green space as possible.”


Barbara Starmer, who opposes construction of Missoula College on the South Campus, said that as a taxpayer, she believes it would be more cost efficient to build the college elsewhere.

Like many opponents who are fearful of losing the golf course, she suggested building the college across the city at Fort Missoula, or revamping the existing college on South Avenue West.

“We as taxpayers have paid for studies and the studies have said it would be better to put the college on the West Campus, or put a second or third level and revamp the building you’ve got,” said Starmer.

“We want the college, we just don’t want it on the golf course,” she added. “It causes more congestion than what you’ve already got, and most of these students aren’t taking half their classes here and half their classes there.”

Students made a strong appearance at the meeting as well, and many suggested that they do, in fact, take classes at separate locations. They said it’s difficult to get across Missoula during the daytime, given the distance and the traffic.

They also said that many of the services they rely upon, including the Curry Health Center and the Associated Students of the University of Montana, are located at UM’s main campus.

“If you have a car, great, but having a car shouldn’t be a requirement to go to college,” said Eamon Ormseth, a member of the ASUM student senate and supporter of the South Campus plans. “No one wants to destroy the golf course, but this is a student issue as well. This is hardly even about moving forward into the future, it’s more about the past. This should have been done decades ago.”

Jay Moore, president of the Pi Theta Kappa honor society, agreed.

“A lot of the things we pay for, we get access to here,” said Moore. “Being over there (at Fort Missoula) makes it difficult. In the time you have, it’s more difficult to get over (to the main campus).”


The meeting was held in the UM Golf Course Clubhouse, not far from where the new Missoula College would be located – followed in time by a new UM research center and an indoor practice facility, among other venues.

While some opponents of the plan lambasted the meeting’s format, suggesting it offered no opportunity to address the crowd, others were pleased with the turnout and welcomed the input of those willing to offer it, which many did.

John Cech, deputy commissioner for two-year and community college education with the Montana University System, reiterated the importance of winning funding from the Legislature to get the college built.

He said the South Campus was a suitable location to place Missoula College and to see UM grow over the next 100 years.

“I think location is a very important factor,” he said. “There are some benefits of having it in this location. It allows students to easily share classes at the university and to see the next step in completing their baccalaureate.”

Before opponents booed Engstrom for suggesting that education trumps golf, he spoke to the importance of building the college and winning $47 million in funding from the Legislature to complete the project.

Engstrom said he was sensitive to the debate on where to place the college, but said that the university had a responsibility to grow in a smart and proper way that best benefits the students.

“We’re building for the next 50 to 100 years for UM,” he told the room. “If you look at what the first 100 years of this institution has done, it’s completely filled the location that we’re at now. There’s no reason not believe that the next 50 to 100 years will be any different.

We have to build for the future in a well-thought out and well-planned way,” he continued. “We can’t go putting a building in one location and another building in some other location. We have to do this in a concerted, deliberate way that maximizes the effectiveness of the education program for our students and does that in the most economic way.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260 or at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(26) Comments

  1. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - January 22, 2013 1:59 pm
    The golf course is open space and is a beautiful representation how we can maintain open space and useability with out congesting the local neighborhoods with unwanted and unneeded traffic congestion causing issues for emergency vehicles ability to attempt to administer life saving techniques.
  2. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - January 22, 2013 1:49 pm
    @Lily you seem to want to incite more of the same ridiculousness to the rest of Missoula that you are suffering from, I guess the old adage is true "Misery Loves Company".
  3. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - January 22, 2013 1:45 pm
    What are the students crying about, they got free rides from mountain line to vote at the fairgrounds, why can't they be shuttled across town to the west campus site for classes, as a matter of fact using the public transit would reduce emissions, reduce traffic, wear and tear on public infrastructure, less neighborhood intrusions, emergency vehicles would be able to get to private residences to deliver life saving techniques, home owners would not have to fight for parking spots in front of their own homes.
  4. TwiceGriz
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    TwiceGriz - October 17, 2012 7:36 pm
    Rebuilding a golf course is very expensive nowadays. Just one green can cost $50,000. Also, the University Golf Course has its own well for water; this is a water right that is not easy to come by. And, in fact, if the University builds on the golf course that part-of-the year water right becomes "up for grabs" This problem has not been addressed by the U. Where will they get the water for human consumption year-round on this location? New infrastructure will have to be built. Also, we cannot centralize at UMGC. The heavy equipment programs at the West Campus cannot or will not be moved according to President Engstrom. If the goal is to consolidate the college then the West Campus is the only location.

  5. JSRMinMissoula
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    JSRMinMissoula - October 07, 2012 2:13 pm
    I find it totally absurd that Missoulians are going to give the College of Trailers more money to continue to provide inefficient education. Just ask about their advising or the fact that none of their credits transfer over to the main campus towards a bachelors degree (Dean Barry Good, Lynn Stocking, Royce Engstrom you listening? Royce, you didn't get my letter? Oh, that's right, Foley got it) . Credits at the College of Trailers are counted as ELECTIVES, not core credits, even though some courses may be taught at both campuses and use the same text book materials. Not only does the College of Trailers neglect telling you this during orientation, I didn't discover this until after my 3rd advising appointment. Some of those courses I took count as core credits towards a bachelors if taught on MAIN CAMPUS, (Imagine my surprise when I discovered such blatant inequality in regards to course credit acknowledgement!) Main campus could care less, they have treated the COT campus like a red-headed step child for the past 20 years since the legislature made the Missoula Vo-Tech merge with the University. The job placement for graduates from the College of Trailers is even more atrocious. People I know personally who have went through their "Technical Programs" are not employed in those so called "Technical Fields". They are working for minimal wages here in the "We love it here Missoula"- valley. The University doesn't have any solid plans to correct this dilemma with the credit situation, especially when they have advertised in their brochures that they offer a bachelors program? THE LEGISLATURE MIGHT AS WELL GIVE THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA 47 MILLION TO BUILD A NEW SCHOOL FOR TYPEWRITER REPAIR.
  6. UMalumnus
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    UMalumnus - October 05, 2012 12:08 pm
    Try getting across town and finding a parking place on or near campus in between classes. It is next to impossible.

    Also the state owns the golf course land. The state owns the university. So technically yes they are one and the same.
  7. Roger
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    Roger - October 05, 2012 8:26 am
    You're making an assumption, then calling people hypocrites based on that assumption - a little unreasonable, wouldn't you agree? Your first sentence doesn't say what you meant it to say, I'd bet - look at your first few words: "I can't help by thinking---".

    Another thing - when you talk about getting across town in less than 30 minutes, are you referring to driving, bicycling, or what? I've found that it's fairly easy to get across town in 15 minutes or so by driving.

    And if what TwiceGriz says is true, the university doesn't even own the golf course land.
  8. UMalumnus
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    UMalumnus - October 04, 2012 9:15 pm
    I can't help by thinking that the majority of these people for the golf course were the same ones who said UM focuses too much on sports and not enough on education when it comes to football. A little hypocritical wouldn't you say?

    And I'd like to know how many people in support of the golf course, either play on it regularly or have EVER played a round on the course. I'd bet next to none.

    I graduated nearly a decade ago and getting across town in under 30 minutes was nearly impossible then. I recently went back to visit and it is not impossible in under half an hour most of the day. The south campus location is practical and reasonable. UM's job is to educate not to college greens fees.
  9. sportscaster
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    sportscaster - October 04, 2012 7:49 pm
    You took the words right out of my mouth. Obviously how to pay for it (the new golf course) would be an issue, but the location would be outstanding. Someone said the West Campus would be a beautiful site for students of Missoula College. It occurs to me that they should be paying attention to what's going on in class, not looking out the windows at the beautiful riverside views.
  10. amortdal
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    amortdal - October 04, 2012 7:21 pm
    Sounds like a great place for a golf course; and we can keep the educational facilities centralized.
  11. amortdal
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    amortdal - October 04, 2012 7:19 pm
    I am a taxpaying MIssoula resident and graduate of the U of M. All of you people keep talking about open space. That is exactly what The Fort Missoula area is. It is wide open space, open to the public without having to pay a fee to play a sport that a small percentage of the community plays. Build another golf course elsewhere if someone wants to but the University should have never been in the golf business. It is an educational institution.
  12. TwiceGriz
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    TwiceGriz - October 04, 2012 4:20 pm
    BUILD IT AT THE UM COT WEST CAMPUS out past Fort Missoula!!!! There are fifty gorgeous acres of property there on which the COT already has buildings and classes on 13 acres. The rest of the property (37 acres) is full of weeds and dirt and abuts the Bitterroot River with beautiful views of the River, the mountains and the Fort Missoula Water Tower. The 2 year college students deserve this beautiful parcel for their campus. The county surveyor has verified that this 50 acres is NOT IN FLOODPLAIN. The University's own 2004 Master Plan at the Fort verifies that these 50 acres are not in the "Fort Missoula Historic Overlay." AND, btw, THE STATE OWNS THE PROPERTY on which the golf course lies, not the University. And WHO FUNDS THE STATE? Not, the students, not the UM or COT administration. YOU AND ME!! Why on earth would an intelligent populace destroy one good thing and replace it with another good thing when they can have TWO GOOD THINGS at WAY LESS COST to the taxpayers?
  13. Bitterroot BeeGuy
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    Bitterroot BeeGuy - October 04, 2012 12:54 pm
    President Engstrom and his adroit admin staff did an admirable job last night in presenting their South Campus plan to the public. They started on a high note with various students espousing the value of having a 2 yr. tech college in the area and ended on a low note when Engstrom spoke and poked the public in the eye by saying education was more important than golf. I hope Missoula's Mayor took note of the audience reaction to his comment and saw how this current UM administration continues to alienate itself from the people it's supposed to be serving. The UM campus is a public institution, not some private little kingdom unto itself. I just wish a good admin associate would provide Engstrom a pistol with blanks so he doesn't continue hurting himself when he opens fire on his foot while interacting with the general public.
  14. independent mind
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    independent mind - October 04, 2012 11:49 am
    I have no stake in this debate but it sounds like some concerned citizens are trying to preserve the Missoula we all love for the next 100 years. Golf really isn't the issue here. Open green space in a progressively crowded neighborhood is. Quality of life and the feeling that every square inch is being developed for buildings and congestion is what will destroy Missoula in the end. Then students will look elsewhere for a college town with less big city feel. Unfortunately our country initially values growth and sprawl more than environment. Then they look for somewhere less congested to live until sprawl occurs there too. On and on it goes until there is no open space left within a once beautiful town.
    I hate to think what the university will look like in 100 years. Progress is good but not at the expense of eliminating the reason people want to come here in the first place.
  15. Service
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    Service - October 04, 2012 11:29 am
    Per the architect I talked to last night the current plans are for a parking lot for 250 vehicles at a school with an estimate enrollment of 2500-2700 people. Tell me there won’t be an overflow of vehicles into the residential area north of South Ave as there is around the main campus. While it is state land and the UM can do with it as they please why are government entities exempt from providing parking spaces for their “customers”, and this includes all the elementary and high schools in Missoula too? Look at any privately owned business and the amount of parking lot they are required to have. So to say the community doesn’t have a valid reason to enter into this debate with the UM is unfounded. The UM golf course location is going to effect a lot of off campus, not involved with the UM residents and they have a right to be at the table and their concerns properly addressed.
  16. JS
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    JS - October 04, 2012 10:26 am
    The moment that the Oval becomes a serious contender for new buildings on campus is the first time that I become severely dissappointed in the UofM!! Anyone who thinks this is even approaching an acceptable option is delusional! Personally, I feel that the Native American building already was shoe horned into the space it occupies and throws the whole Oval "off". Yes, I am aware that other buildings are almost equally close but it's the angle and position of that building that just doesn't fit right. Lets stop while we are (slightly) ahead!!
  17. facepalm
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    facepalm - October 04, 2012 9:35 am
    I'm pretty sure the shuttle buses could be used to relieve the traffic that thousands of cars would make. Use the resources you have more efficiently. Schedule more efficiently. Are there plans for a parking solution. Or will they sell 5000 parking permits for 12 spots. Or is that what the golf course will become? It doesn't matter Enrollment is declining anyway. If Mitt Zombie gets elected, and he passes his budget, less people will be able to afford school anyway. Problem solved. Less people, no need for more buildings.
  18. Darpaas
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    Darpaas - October 04, 2012 9:14 am
    Here's an idea:
    Build a new golf course (maybe 18 holes) at the west campus (Fort Missoula). There is more space, it is owned by the U and it might be an improvement over what they call a "golf course". There is much more potential to build a better course then to keep gutting the existing one to put in a housing development. Just think in 30-40 years, the “university district” will actually be the University. Let them improve Missoula College with their land, this will reduce congestion, and the U could give the land to the county to improve the dismal fairgrounds.
  19. BWO
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    BWO - October 04, 2012 7:48 am
    Really? Golf is more important than a strong, growing university? And driving all over the place is destructive to community, it doesn't improve neighborhoods or academic pursuits. Seems like a few spoiled citizens are crying over their playground....
  20. walter12
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    walter12 - October 04, 2012 7:27 am
    First thing is, leftists hate golf, so they are always going to be against golf and football. Secondly, who owns the land? UM owns the land and they can do what they like with it. I like golf and have played there and like that little golf course, but it belongs to UM.
  21. BobbyLee
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    BobbyLee - October 04, 2012 7:20 am
    Absoute pitiful reporting (if one can even call it that) from the Missoulian once again. No one ever has, or were, "suggesting that education was more important than golf." We all know investigative reporting is beyond the Missoulian's comprehension, but seriously, now you have to make stuff up by taking Engstrom's words, which are designed to belittle, and twist them to look like they came from others? Is this UofM style reporting? Would make sense I suppose.
  22. Meggen Ryan
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    Meggen Ryan - October 04, 2012 5:32 am
    Build it on the golf course. The remaining green space will be accessible to more Missoulians who don’t care to dodge golf balls. Missoula can do with one less golf course. COT students should have improved access to the main campus. A modern COT is an economic investment for western Montana and it starts with a modern building – not an inefficient technology retrofit of an old building. If Starmer wants to talk about efficiencies – the amount of space a golf course consumes is the least efficient use of land. Not suitable for a variety of wildlife and does not produce food for people. Engstrom is correct – we need to be thinking beyond the life times of the current crop of golfers using this space.
  23. Mark
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    Mark - October 04, 2012 12:03 am
    If everyone is so worried about travel times and congestion, why doesn't the Adminstration put the new building in the Oval? Plenty of space, close to all the services. I know, it's because once they get rid of the golf course, they can build whatever they want there. I wouldn't be suprised if in 10 years we see the retirement community that President Dennison wanted. I agree that the College needs a new building, however I am skeptical that the only place to build is on the Golf Course. I'm not trying to be black helicoptor guy, but I suspect ulterior motives.
  24. Old Truth Teller
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    Old Truth Teller - October 03, 2012 11:37 pm
    Quite a crowd turned out tonight, because Royce is bent on his plans to continue Empire building he jeopardizes getting the needed funding to build a new college of technology for the students who Missoula County. How easy it is for the University to forget they are part of our community and we do not live to serve at their whim. Citizens of Montana own the land and the buildings at our institutes of higher education; we hold them in trust for future generations. Here we have a small group of like-minded intellectual free-spending University employees who desire to have this large new showcase for their chessboard. Forget about the negative impact to the neighborhoods and the citizens who live there, forget about the fact that for over 10 years was the lands have been fighting any development on this treasured open space, forget the fact that Royce is pushing ahead with these plans before the results of the criminal investigation to the on goings of the campus community are disclosed. If you forget all those facts and ignore the impacts on the community as a whole then you should dig into your own checkbook to help finance this expansion. There are ways to cut the cost of this expansion and located an acceptable site that will be beneficial to the entire city of Missoula. Fort Missoula is a good location; it was selected decades ago and fits better with the culture of Missoula. Roy seemed a little angry when KEIC interviewed him tonight because he was booed and jeered during the supposedly informational meet and greet. The urgency must be to help the community forget about the sexual assaults, the flight of suspected rapist and the continued disgrace that that Happened To this community from the national media attention.
  25. Larry Lewis
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    Larry Lewis - October 03, 2012 10:57 pm
    1. Pres. Engstrom is a fool
    2. The UM golf course is a great course that's been around a long time.
    3. I saw the protest, and only 10 people showed up.
    4. The sad truth is this is probably going to happen and the course will end.
    5. Pres. Engstrom walked around the Oval in high heels.
    6. U of M is messed up.
  26. LilyVonShtupp
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    LilyVonShtupp - October 03, 2012 9:48 pm
    Yes, most of the students ARE taking half their classes on the main campus and half on the South Campus. Sorry about your property value, but sending a thousand cars all the way across Missoula twice a day is just ridiculous.
    The old building is atrocious, the library might as well be non-existent, parking is a joke, and the teenagers next door at Sentinel routinely try to kill us with their cars.
    Build it, already.
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