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The “best of” lists released by bloggers, magazines and foundations make for redundant newspapers stories, especially when they come out as often as they do.

Still, they’re rather tantalizing and worth noting when your town or college makes a national list, even if the picture that accompanies the write-up is 20 years old.

For starters, the Princeton Review last week named the University of Montana one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible “green colleges.”

The report came out ahead of Earth Day and it marked the fifth straight year UM has made the list, one that notes the school’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.

“This is important to consider in these lean budget times,” said Cherie Peacock, UM’s sustainability coordinator. “It’s important for us to make conscious choices to maintain and enhance our sustainability-related curriculum and programs.”


The Princeton Review lauded UM’s student organizations, such as Climate Action Now. It praised the Farm to College Program and noted the Environmental Studies program, among other offerings.

Also hot off the Internet last week came another ranking that placed UM on the list of the “7 Top Tech Hubs among America’s Small College Towns.”

The list also included Iowa State University and the universities of Michigan, Illinois, Oregon State, Colorado State and Brigham Young, in that order.

That’s pretty good company, and while UM had the smallest enrollment of schools on the list – and Missoula was the third smallest city by population – together they pack a one-two punch that’s getting noticed.

For small metros, Missoula ranked fifth for its density of high-tech startups, fifth in having the largest increase in high-tech startups, and seventh on the nation’s list of “10 best” college towns.

The team at the Sparefoot Blog, which authored the list, looked at college towns with a population under 150,000 claiming schools of more than 10,000 students.

A recent Kauffman Foundation report helped – one noting Missoula’s progress in the tech world and the role UM has played in moving that progress forward.

“Without a doubt, the built-in brainpower and resources of a university can be a catalyst for tech startups in small college towns,” the authors wrote. “Not every college town graduates to the level of a mini-Silicon Valley, though.”

If you believe the lists, it seems that Missoula has graduated to that level. It’s any wonder Mayor John Engen’s State of the Community address two weeks ago also included UM and county officials.

After all, good governance crosses jurisdictional boundaries, and the university’s success is often the city’s success, and vice versa.

Now, if we can just get the folks at the Sparefoot Blog to use a UM photo taken some time after 1995. The grassy end-zone seating at Washington-Grizzly Stadium disappeared long ago, and the last time I visited campus, there was a new School of Journalism building.

Martin Kidston covers the University of Montana for the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5260 or by email at

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

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