UM Honors College Students Boast Higher GPAs, More International Experiences

October 13, 2015

MISSOULA – The Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana has 204 students in its entering cohort this year, the largest class since 2008. Competition for the entry into the Davidson Honors College is more intense than ever, the average SAT and ACT scores of DHC applicants were at record highs, and the average GPA of all DHC applicants was the second highest in the past decade.

This year’s winners of the prestigious Presidential Leadership Scholarship also had a higher average GPA (3.96) and ACT score (32) than any previous class of PLS awardees.

“Perhaps the brightest point of progress, though, is the number of students we have studying and working overseas in a purposeful manner,” said DHC Dean Brock Tessman.

Examples include UM Global Grizzlies Kayla Secrest and Sophie Friedl, who spent time as humanitarian ambassadors in Uganda this past summer, and two-time Udall Scholarship winner Hope Radford, who studied agriculture in Latin America. Claire Chandler taught English in China and studied abroad in Austria last year.

This coming winter, DHC student Rebecca Keith will study transboundary peace parks in Vietnam. In the spring, Goldwater Scholar Rachel Dickson will study native pollinators in Argentina. Meanwhile, Peregrine Frissell just returned from a summer journalism internship in Nepal, Mercedes Baker interviewed leaders in Ireland for her psychology research, and Claire Robertson studied Russian language and voice while abroad in Russia.

“I think this is a real step forward,” Tessman said. “I see a lot of value for our students in this type of international exposure.”

Tessman said international experiences will continue to be an area of emphasis for DHC students. Currently about 700 UM students across all academic majors are enrolled in the honors college. Students must complete seven honors courses in order to graduate as a University Scholar. Up to two courses can be outside-of-classroom experiences that carry academic credit. Opportunities include studying abroad, civic engagement, undergraduate research, internships, and several global programs and honors institutes and societies.

The Presidential Leadership Scholarship is UM’s premier freshman scholarship and is awarded solely on academic merit. UM designates about 25 PLS awards – which include a full tuition waiver to resident students and in-state tuition credit equivalent for nonresident students – annually to incoming freshmen. Awardees may renew the scholarship for four years.

For more information on DHC, call Tessman at 406-243-2541 or email

Contact: Brock Tessman, UM Davidson Honors College dean, 406-243-2541,