MISSOULA – University of Montana President Seth Bodnar delivered the annual State of the University address on Aug. 24 in front of a near-capacity crowd in the Montana Theatre on campus.
Breaking with tradition, the president invited leaders of the University’s shared governance groups – the student, faculty and staff senates – to share the podium with him during the address.
“The president wanted to share the stage with representatives from the entire campus community,” said UM spokeswoman Paula Short. “We are all deeply committed to this institution, and we share in its struggles and its triumphs.”
The president opened with an acknowledgement of the indigenous lands that UM sits upon today and the legacy of the institution, as well as its aspirational future.
Central to the address was the theme of student success. Frequently, Bodnar spoke of the ways in which the institution will “place students at the center of all we do.” There were specific examples of student success and transformation, stories of distinguished alumni and remarks on the quality of educational offerings all across campus. Bodnar spoke of UM’s record-breaking research funding, the increased enrollment during summer semester and the actions UM needs to take to recruit more students.
“Our enrollment will be down slightly this fall, but it is much better than we projected it would be back in February,” he said. “And while it’s frustrating, for certain, I’m more confident than ever that as we communicate more effectively and put in place the right operational processes, enrollment will rise. We have people all over the country who want to attend UM.”
He noted that UM leaders have been consistent in their vision and planning for the institution, evidenced by alignment between recent strategic plans, accreditation reports and the recent work of the University Planning Committee.
“The task now is to implement our good ideas,” Bodnar said. “We as an institution must be clear not just in our values and principles, but also in the concrete steps we will take to live up to them.”
Bodnar’s vision for UM centers around five key priorities for action:
- Place student success at the center of all we do.
- Drive excellence and innovation in teaching, learning and research.
- Embody the principle of “Mission First, People Always.”
- Partner with place.
- Proudly tell the UM story.
Remarks from the shared governance leaders – Mariah Welch from the Associated Students of UM; Matt Semanoff, chair of the Faculty Senate; and Luke Alford, chair of the Staff Senate – encouraged collaboration across campus in implementing the shared vision for UM. Each called upon their respective constituents to engage in the discussion and provide input and ideas moving forward.
The State of the University ceremony concluded with recognition of new members of the executive leadership team, as well as announcements of faculty hires, tenure and promotion by the deans of each school and college.
The 2018 State of the University address was broadcast live by Missoula Community Access Television and may be viewed on their website, http://www.mcat.org.