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Kimberly Madson, a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, says she wanted a topic that could take her students beyond the pharmacy "bubble. They know about the drugs," she says, "but they don't know about the impact of other disciplines that this crisis has. So I wanted them to understand this problem from a non-pharmacy perspective."

Here's the story I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about about a class at the University of Montana that's pulling together campus strengths and community expertise — and getting high marks from students.

It's pretty exciting, as you can see from the number of students who have enrolled or dropped in on the lunch-hour course. This year, as many as 90 participants landed in the room; usually, the class is lucky to see 30 students.

Faculty member Kim Madson designed the class, and she wanted to do something different this year, something that pushed her pharmacy students. She chose the opioid crisis as the topic, and she lined up a bunch of people who are working in the thick of it to give lectures.

"I wish every single one of my P1 pharmacy students were in there with me," said Aaron Johnston, a student, of his first-year peers.

(Also, I referenced participants in the class and not just students because faculty members have dropped in, and I spotted one administrator from Main Hall too.)

But the class also represents the type of education UM is going to do in the future — education that builds bridges among different areas of expertise. The Keck Foundation, which looks for wild new ideas to fund, even risky ones, and gives money to places that are shifting paradigms, is sending UM $300,000 to develop a series of multidisciplinary courses.

"I think that's what can really make this campus distinct," said faculty member Rich Bridges.

Read more about it in the story, and share the story with your buddies.

Also, did you make it to the State of the Community this week? Reporter David Erickson covered that event yesterday, where leaders from the City of Missoula, Missoula County, and UM gave an update on their respective states of affairs.

In the story, UM President Seth Bodnar again manages enrollment expectations for the fall, as he did at an earlier, midyear update on campus. He encouraged people to look at trends like freshman numbers, not just the overall number, a warning other UM administrators have given before.

“So will we have an overall enrollment number that is larger next year? Probably not," Bodnar said in the story.

The community has been hearing that it's going to take a little while for a long while, maybe since the end of 2016 when the Commissioner's Office decided UM needed a new president to help. Hopefully, some of the new administration's efforts in outreach will pay off, like "UM Days," which Bodnar said brought 300 prospective students to campus instead of the 50 it usually brings.

On another note, tomorrow, reporter Cameron Evans and I are hitting the road with photographer Tom Bauer to start talking with people at other college and high school campuses in person about economic mobility and higher education. This week, we'll drop in on Helena and Havre.

A national review of economic mobility by a research group based at Harvard University showed Montana State University–Northern hit the No. 1 spot in the state for moving students up income brackets. Some of the jobs they help students get involve huge machinery, and I'm hoping to see some of these contraptions as we learn about different ways schools are helping students at lower income levels.

What else? The Chronicle of Higher Education recently updated salary information for faculty, and watch for a story soon on Missoulian.com that looks at the widened gap for full professors at the state flagships.

As for entertainment, did you have the chance to see "Assassins" at UM? The dark musical comedy about people who wanted to shoot presidents dead sold out on Saturday night. Congrats to the actors and crew on the popular production, which reporter Peter Friesen wrote about here

Straight from UM:

  • UM Research Identifies Cross-Boundary Solutions to Invasive Weeds Apr 11, 2019

    Weeds don’t stop at fence lines and neither should solutions, according to research published this week in Nature Plants by an international team of 15 researchers, including UM's Alex Metcalf.

  • UM to Host Heart of the River Event Apr 11, 2019

    Missoula residents are invited to the University of Montana campus to perform CPR – conservation, preservation and restoration – on the Clark Fork River.

  • InnovateUM to Celebrate Innovation, Change-Making Apr 11, 2019

    The fourth annual innovateUM event, a celebration of innovation and change-making at the University of Montana, in Missoula and across Montana will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Missoula.

Thank you for reading. I'll see you next week and maybe share a little nugget from the road trip.

- Keila Szpaller

Stay current on the University of Montana and other higher education news in Montana with the Missoulian's weekly email, Under the M. This newsletter will land in your email box on Tuesdays. Got a news tip? Want to hear more about something at UM? Missoula College? The Commissioner's Office? Shoot a note to keila.szpaller@missoulian.com. Thank you for reading, and please sign up here if you'd like to subscribe. 

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