Here are some snippets of good news in Montana.
First, Montana State University hit another record for enrollment, according to a news release. MSU credits the record as an effort to not only recruit students but to keep them in school and on track to graduate.
“We are of course thrilled to have so many students choose to pursue their studies at Montana State University,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “But we also understand that simply attracting students is not enough. We must also provide the resources to help them succeed and, ultimately, graduate.”
The news of a headcount of 15,694 students is probably good timing for MSU as its representatives advocate in the Montana Legislature for $32 million to rebuild Romney Hall.
The University of Montana also does a census for spring enrollment, and I believe they're crunching that data as we speak. Stay tuned. If you recall, summer enrollment was up, but fall had tanked again. Retention got a bump in the fall, though.
Other good news?
Well, this isn't directly related to higher education, but I wanted to post reporter Cory Walsh's story here about the Missoula Art Museum's auction this past weekend. The MAM also hit a record, in this case, pulling in $215,000 at its annual auction.
That figure was courtesy of 31 pieces in the live auction, 48 in the silent auction, plus ticket sales, donations, sponsorships and more.
That story isn't about the university system, but it does reflect well on the community of Missoula and its support for the arts. Here's longtime supporter Brent Campbell, of WGM Group, on his decision to bid and buy at the auction over the years.
"I've made investments at this auction in the past and if you know your prices, and you know your artists, there's some really good investments," he said, noting that art he's bought here before has appreciated well.
... Regardless, the auction is a chance to back the museum.
"You support it and you get a piece of art. It's about the support," he said.
The community also is supporting a new shelter. In this story from reporter David Erickson, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency approved $144,404 in tax increment funds for a $10.9 million for survivors of domestic violence and homeless families.
Out of curiosity, I looked at the proportion of money the MRA approved for the shelter versus for Starbucks a while back. It's more dollars for the shelter, but 1.3 percent of the project. Starbucks received 5.5 percent of the project cost from the MRA based on the numbers in this 2014 story. That's old news, but it's a new comparison point I was curious about. Now you know, too.
Good news for UM also comes courtesy of Erickson.
If you missed it, check out his story about faculty member Justin Angle and the podcast he launched, "A New Angle." (A while back, I started using the phrase "faculty member" because it's easier sometimes than making sure someone is still an assistant professor versus associate professor or full professor — or were they actually a lecturer? Anyway.)
He's (Angle has) scored conversations with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, former Nirvana and Cheap Trick sound engineer Steve Albini, and Tyler Hamilton, a Tour de France cyclist who was caught up in the blood-doping scandal that took down Lance Armstrong. There are 54 published episodes and a new one is released each week.
His theme is "creativity and hustle," and that's him in the picture.
“There are not a lot of conventional jobs in Missoula, and to piece together a good living in this town you have to have both creativity and hustle,” Angle explained.
In other UM news, the campus found "unacceptable levels" of asbestos in McGill Hall, both the preschool and other places. UM continues to test in order to provide more information to parents and occupants of the building, which it closed last Thursday after relocating the preschool Tuesday.
I am pleased for parents and the public that the flagship is posting all the test results on its website. That wasn't the case right out of the gate, but it appears to be the case now. UM spokeswoman Paula Short provided me this link, which has a section at the bottom right with tests.
At public meetings last week, some parents left in tears. A couple of them said they would have to wonder for years whether their children would develop one of the lung diseases asbestos causes.
So far, I've been trying to learn more about the situation at McGill Hall, but I'll be reaching out to the higher education officials in Helena to find out if there's a master plan of sorts for buildings with asbestos across the Montana University System. I wonder if the acute situation at McGill might be a wake-up call for wider inspections and testing elsewhere.
Let's end with good news. Last week, MSU announced at raised $413 million in its most successful fundraising campaign. The goal was to $300 million. Huzzah.
UM is also in the midst of an historic campaign to raise $400 million, and if earlier fundraising efforts are any indication, the UM Foundation will hit the mark.
Oh, I missed something. Reporter Rob Chaney wrote this piece about Andrew Larson, an ecologist and the new head of the Wilderness Institute at UM.
“Andrew brings to the institute a deep and multifaceted perspective on wilderness that integrates ecological science, policy, education and management,” Forestry Dean Tom DeLuca wrote in an email. “Andrew is an internationally renowned ecologist with a passion for wilderness and an understanding of the complexities of protected areas' health and management.”
Straight from UM, as usual:
- UM Women’s Center to Present Annual ‘Vagina Monologues’ Production Feb 05, 2019
The University of Montana Women’s Resource Center will host its annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, in UM’s Dennison Theatre. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and cash-only $10 tickets will be available at the door.
- Environmental Leader Winona LaDuke to Deliver President’s Lecture at UM Feb 05, 2019
Winona LaDuke, the internationally renowned environmentalist, economist and writer, will deliver a seminar and lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 26, as the next President’s Lecture Series guest.
- Missoula College to Host Trade Program for Underrepresented People Feb 04, 2019
Missoula College will partner with the YWCA’s Girls Representing in Trades (GRIT) Program on Friday to host an exploratory trades workshop for those underrepresented in the industrial technology industry – such as women and nonbinary and gender-diverse people.
- Public Invited to Hear Live Broadcast of ‘Pianissimo!’ Concert at State Capitol Feb 04, 2019
The public is invited to listen as the UM School of Music performs its “Pianissimo!” Concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in Helena.
- Popular MontanaPBS Show Receives National Award Feb 01, 2019
“Backroads of Montana,” the popular MontanaPBS travelogue series, received recognition as one of the best in public media by the National Educational Telecommunications Association at a Jan. 21 gala event in Salt Lake City.
- Presence of Asbestos Prompts UM to Close McGill Hall Jan 31, 2019
The latest asbestos tests in McGill Hall at UM have prompted campus administrators to close the building until further notice.
- ‘Odyssey of the Stars’ to Honor YouTube Science Communicator, UM Alumna Jan 31, 2019
- Theater Students at UM to Present Studio One-Acts Jan 31, 2019
The UM School of Theatre & Dance will present the one-act plays “Biography of a Constellation” and “Woyzeck,” directed by Master of Fine Art students, to audiences this February.
- McGill Hall Closure Jan 31, 2019
Information on the closure of McGill Hall due to the presence of asbestos.
- UM Dining Recognized for Supporting Higher Animal Welfare Standards Jan 31, 2019
UM Dining is receiving recognition for its commitment to supporting better animal welfare standards in the food industry by purchasing Certified Humane cage-free eggs for all of its operations.
- UM Business Student Group Earns International Recognition Jan 30, 2019
The UM student group for management information systems majors has been recognized as a Distinguished Student Chapter by the Association for Information Systems, a worldwide governing body for MIS professionals, educators and students.
- UM Food Pantry to Celebrate Grand Opening Feb. 12 Jan 30, 2019
The University of Montana will host a grand opening for the new UM Food Pantry from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at the West Atrium desk on the first floor of the University Center.
- UM Wilderness Institute Names New Director Jan 30, 2019
UM Associate Professor Andrew Larson has been named the director of UM’s Wilderness Institute. Larson will lead interdisciplinary programs to help further the understanding of wilderness and wildlands stewardship through education, research and service.
All for now. Thank you for reading.
- Keila Szpaller
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