This article was originally published in the Montana Standard.
“The University of Montana Western student is traditionally a Montana resident, but we do continue to attract more and more students regionally and across the nation because of Experience One,” said University Foundation Director, Roxanne Engellant.
Experience One is an initiative that allows students to take one course at a time and UMW is the only public four-year university in the nation to offer the initiative.
In fall 2017, the University boasted a head count of about 1,500 students, who all pay rent, patronize restaurants and shop in the community in which they reside. Seventy-eight percent of those students were Montana residents and about 22 percent were from out of state.
In addition to contributing to the local economy, Engellant said, University of Montana Western students add diversity to Dillon and Beaverhead County.
“We have students who are talented artists, musicians, thespians, athletes and much more,” Engellant said. “These students not only enrich our campus, but because they live in our small community, our community is continually interacting with (them).”
Many students also participate in volunteer activities, Engellant said, including through the university’s 25 clubs, each of which have a service component.
Graduates go on to careers in education, business, equine, environmental and medical fields.
And some of them stay in Dillon and start businesses, the Foundation Director said, including Chance Bernall, who established Beaverhead Home & Ranch, Justin Hartman of Tight Line Adventures and Cory Creighton, who started Code UX, a web development company, to name a few.
Local employers that have University of Montana Western graduates on staff include Helix Business Solutions, a technology company that has a location in Dillon, along with school districts throughout southwest Montana.