MISSOULA – University of Montana President Seth Bodnar was upbeat during two presentations of his midyear campus update on March 19, declaring the University is on the right path.
Bodnar has served as UM’s 19th president for just over a year. He said campus leaders and many across campus have worked tirelessly to set the stage for future success at UM.
“Because here’s the thing about change and progress – it doesn’t happen overnight,” Bodnar said. “You don’t just flip a switch and suddenly things turn around. That’s not the way the world works. As Bill Gates and others have said, ‘Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.’
“That sentiment is a very important one for our community right now,” he continued. “The ones who are successful are those who focus on making steady, consistent, tangible progress, day after day, over a sustained period of time. Those are the people who look back after 10 years and are amazed at what they achieved. And the way you get there is by breaking down the challenges into their component parts and tackling them bit by bit.
“There is no magic to this, just persistent discipline,” Bodnar said. “I am confident we are going to succeed because we have made and continue to make deliberate, smart, incremental progress toward stability. We are on that path.”
Bodnar highlighted several recent campus accomplishments as indicators of positive progress. Among those were:
- UM student-athletes earned an average term GPA of 3.19, the highest average in the history of Grizzly Athletics. Bodnar said he was more excited by this achievement than the men’s basketball team making the NCAA Tournament two years in a row, though he also lauded that on-court excellence.
- A UM team landed a Keck Foundation Grant to help UM faculty members in neuroscience, literature, psychology, philosophy and languages shape a new undergraduate curriculum to help students understand the fast-evolving field of brain science.
- UM creative writing alumna Stephanie Land learned her book, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive” landed at No. 3 on The New York Times’ best-seller list.
Bodnar said UM provides a high-quality, world-class education that accessible people from all starting points and walks of life. He said the experience of alumna Land “is a story of transformation.”
The president spoke to the five Priorities for Action his team has been working on to move UM on its path toward a collectively developed vision. They are:
- 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.
Bodnar said student success priority has as its goals to help student persist and graduate at higher rates, enjoy options that allow for access and flexibility, and have the appropriate support – especially for historically underserved groups.
He said UM has a goal to provide a “tomorrow-proof” education, one that best prepares students – regardless of discipline – for careers of adaption and change.
Summer enrollment numbers again look strong with year, with 300 more students registered for summer courses this summer than last year’s record-setting summer enrollment. However, the president tempered expectations in regards to the overall enrollment situation.
“We can’t expect our enrollment picture to change overnight,” Bodnar said. “We had some major issues to address. And while I’m excited about where we’re headed, it’s going to take a few years to fully realize the fruits of this labor,” he said.
Bodnar concluded the update with a positive look forward. “We will steadily and persistently write the exciting next chapter for this incredible University,” he said. “It is my honor to be with you in this important work.”
More information about the president’s midyear update will be posted at http://www.umt.edu/president/default.php.