Montana is known for many things — Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Big Sky Resort, Little Bighorn Battlefield, Saint Mary Lake, Flathead National Forest, the National Bison Range, the World Museum of Mining, and much more. Throughout this great state, another noteworthy claim to fame includes universities with a rich background of academic excellence, especially when it comes to the history of the University of Montana.

The foundation of UM can be traced back to 1881 when Congress approved that 46,000 acres of Montana land be dedicated to the development of a university. By 1895, the university officially opened with classes held at nearby Willard School until campus buildings could be constructed. 

In 1898, construction began on University Hall thanks to land donated by the South Missoula Land Company and the Higgins family. This academic cornerstone gave Missoula the nickname “the University City.” The architectural style of the original buildings included the Renaissance Revival style with hipped roofs and green roof tiles. However, other styles were embraced as UM continued to develop in an area bordered by Mount Sentinel and the Clark Fork River.

Fast forward to the present day, and impressive numbers reflect how UM has grown to become an outstanding educational beacon for students around the world:

  • Nearly 11,000 students are enrolled at the university.
  • Students have the option to choose from a plethora of degree programs with options for associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, first-professional, and doctoral degrees, as well as technical certificates.
  • UM consists of 220 walkable acres with 64 buildings, and a 22,500-seat football stadium.
  • Alumni encompass more than 105,000 people worldwide.
  • 70 countries are represented by the international student enrollment of 400 at UM.

And here’s a fun fact about UM: The university has gone through a series of name changes since it was founded. From 1893 to 1913, it was known as the University of Montana-Missoula. From 1913 to 1935, students called it State University of Montana. From 1935 to 1965, it changed to Montana State University, and in 1965, it officially became the University of Montana.

UM also has a stand-out list of notable names who have called the Missoula campus home, including, musicians, actors, athletes, etc. — Carroll O’Connor, Jeannette Rankin, J.K. Simmons, Jeff Ament, Micheal Ray Richardson, George Montgomery, and James Welch, just to name a few.

Be sure to check out our other informative blogs about Missoula here!

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