University of Montana

The University of Montana campus

The University of Montana College of Business commemorates its 100th anniversary this fall along with many achievements.

Last fall, for instance, UM noted its College of Business tied for the best business school in the Big Sky Conference two years in a row, citing U.S. News & World Report.

Also, alumni include current and former executives at Fortune 500 companies, like Nike COO Eric Sprunk, who delivered UM's 2018 commencement address and is a 1986 graduate in business finance and accounting.

In these lean times, though, faculty who want to go to the party have to buy a $25 ticket. College of Business spokeswoman Elizabeth Willy said the decision came with much discussion by a planning committee. The committee evaluated its budget and decided a ticket price would be prudent during UM's budget crunch.

"We would love to let faculty come for free, but these are austere times," Willy said.

She staff members will not be charged because they will be working the events. Although faculty will buy tickets, she said the amount they pay is low because planners recognize those who attend will be visiting with participants and representing the campus.

"Together with our alumni, they're our greatest asset. So it's really important that they're there and engaged, so we want to encourage them to be there," Willy said. "So we looked at the facts and gave them the lowest price that we could."


The College of Business started as a "department of commerce" in 1914, and last century, its first business students took classes in the top floor of Main Hall.

"They were really funny classes," Willy said.

Typing, for instance. Money and banking. Shorthand. Credits and collections.

Apparently, the curriculum was popular. Just a couple of years after the business school's official start in 1918, 191 students were majoring or planned to major in business, Willy said. The numbers gave the business department one of the largest enrollments on campus, and she said it maintains that status at UM today.

The centennial celebration will take place the weekend of Sept. 21-22, and it will include an outdoor lunch, a "golf scramble," lunch with students, and a riverfront party in Caras Park at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21.

The dress code will be "mountain casual," and Willy said the garden party rather than ballroom gala is in keeping with an event that honors the milestone and alumni but is conscious of the budget at the same time.

"For me, it's really important to (strike that) balance. You only turn 100 once. It's a really important event, and we really want to use this as an opportunity to connect with alumni," Willy said.

College of Business graduates and entrepreneurs are helping to support the celebration, which will include cheering the Grizzlies football team against Sacramento State, she said. Brazilian-inspired cafe Five on Black will cater a lunch, and Market on Front, Big Dipper ice cream, and Big Sky Brewing Co. also will participate.

"It's not the greatest time to have a centennial, but we're positioned really well to have it because we have alumni who can help us," Willy said.

The College of Business counts some 20,000 alumni, and Willy said she hopes the festivities bring a couple hundred people to celebrate. UM notes the general early-bird registration fee is $75 until Aug. 21.

The weekend also will include an opportunity to record memories in an oral history format, according to UM.

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