Around 150 people attended the Legacy Plaza Celebration, a special graduation kick-off event, including students, parents, families and members of the community.
Montana Western Alumni and Friends acknowledged the accomplishments of the Class of 2018 and dedicated an engraved class brick to be laid in the Legacy Plaza.
Graduating students were also presented with an official Montana Western Alumni Tassel to be worn in the University’s 121st Annual Commencement Ceremony held the following day in the Straugh Gymnasium on the Montana Western campus.
368 Montana Western graduates will be awarded at least 443 degrees by the end of the 2017-18 academic year. Of the 368 students, 60 have completed two or more degrees, and over 50% of the graduates received honors by achieving a GPA of 3.33 or higher.
The program included commencement speaker Steve Davis and honored Norman Jacobson with the University’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
“This is a real milestone in the lives of our graduates and their families. It is gratifying to see the culmination of the hard work on the part of our students, faculty and staff,” Chancellor Beth Weatherby said.
Steve Davis is currently President and CEO of PATH, an international nonprofit organization that focuses on saving lives and improving health, especially among women and children. A worldwide expert on the subject of innovation, he combines extensive experience as a technology business leader, global health advocate, and social innovator. Davis is a native of Dillon, Mont., and brother of UMW Vice Chancellor of Administration, Finance, and Student Affairs, Susan Briggs.
Commencement speaker Steve Davis spoke about the impact of innovation, on both local and global scales.
“I am deeply honored to join this celebration of students, families and community back in my wonderful hometown, and at a university that has meant so much to my family and the people of Montana,” said Davis.
Alumni Distinguished Service Award recipient Norman Jacobson obtained his Elementary Education degree from Montana Western in 1952. He went on to receive two Master’s degrees; the first from the University of Montana, and the second from Washington State University. Jacobson taught in Three Forks, Havre, Deer Lodge, and Missoula, Mont., during the course of his 32-year career.
In 2016, Norman Jacobson established the Norman and Maurine Jacobson Education Scholarship to impact student lives as his was by a scholarship at Montana Western that allowed him to receive his first degree.
This was also a special commencement as there were first time graduates as a result of innovative partnerships and new degree programs at Montana Western.
Six students graduated from Montana Western as part of a partnership with the Blackfeet Community College and Browning Public Schools. The partnership is funded by a $1M federal Office of Indian Education grant. The grant’s main objective is to increase the number of teachers serving Indigenous children on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Members of the Blackfeet Community College Board were present to witness the first students receiving their degrees as a result of this partnership.
This is also the first year Montana Western students graduated from the BS Ecology program since its implementation, with two students graduating with this degree. Available option areas in the program include Fish and Wildlife Ecology, Integrative Ecology, and Quantitative Ecology.
Graduates and their friends and families enjoyed a reception following the ceremony.
The University of Montana Western emphasizes immersive learning to prepare students to be successful as they pursue their career choice or move on to acquire advanced degrees.