The tree, decorated with blue and gold lights and ornaments and topped off with a lighted "M," will be located near the stage during the first Fall Commencement ceremony to be held at MSU in more than 50 years.
Community members Scott and Marcy Ramsay donated the approximately 20-foot Colorado blue spruce tree to the university, according to Paul Birkeland, executive catering manager at MSU. Birkeland is a longtime friend of the Ramsays and helped arrange for the tree to be given to the university. After the tree blew down on the Ramsays' land in Kelly Canyon, Birkeland spoke with university administrators, who were pleased to include the tree as a seasonal decoration during Fall Commencement.
"We would hate to see the tree just going into the landfill," Birkeland said. "(The Ramsays) were really thrilled to find a home for it.
"It's a beautiful tree, and it will add a festive feeling to Commencement," he added.
The tree is expected to remain up through the end of the year, so individuals who attend the men's and women's basketball games scheduled for the end of December will be able to enjoy it, as well.
More than 1,000 students are expected to graduate Saturday. At the main ceremony, ASMSU President Kiah Abbey and MSU student Joe Thiel, who is the Montana Board of Regents' Student Regent, will each deliver brief remarks. The university also will award an honorary doctorate to author Robert Pirsig; because Pirsig is in poor health and unable to accept the award in person, Montana University System Regents Professor Michael Sexson will receive the honor and give the commencement address in Pirsig's name. In addition to the main ceremony, colleges will hold individual celebrations at different times. Information on those celebrations, and additional information about Fall Commencement, is available at http://www.montana.edu/commencement/.
Anne Cantrell, (406) 994-4902 or firstname.lastname@example.org