Dear friends,

Earlier this year, your university commemorated the founding of MSU as the first public institution of higher education in the state. On Feb. 16, 1893, the Montana Legislature established the Montana Agricultural College, now MSU. That makes this year your university's 130th anniversary! We are proud of our legacy: 130 years of educating the children of the working families of America at Montana's land-grant university.

As we consider our more recent history here at Montana State, we are also very proud of the significant growth we have achieved in the last 10-plus years, with enrollment increasing from 11,760 in 2010 to nearly 17,000 students last fall. This increase shows that students understand the value of an MSU education, and their confidence in us and their futures have made MSU the state’s university of choice.

Attracting students is, of course, one important piece of the puzzle, but another equally important piece is the support provided for our students to help them stay in school and, ultimately, graduate.

At MSU, we care deeply about the overall success of our students. From the moment students step on campus, dedicated faculty and staff members work diligently to provide resources — such as academic support and tutoring, physical wellness opportunities and mental health services — to help them along their educational journeys.

There are many wonderful examples of this support across our university. One is highlighted in these pages in “Answering the Call,” a story beginning on page 30 that features three of our university’s Hilleman Scholars. Launched in 2016, the Hilleman Scholars Program provides support and resources for Montana students whose defining characteristics are grit and potential, but who – for any number of reasons – may not have performed to their full potential in some cases in high school or on standardized SAT and ACT tests. We are proud that more than 50 first-year students annually enroll in this program to pave their own paths to a college degree.

We know that efforts like the Hilleman Scholars Program are working. Having students persist in their studies and stay enrolled is a measure known as retention. And this spring, we were delighted to see that 90.1% of first-year students remained enrolled from fall to spring. This was a 2% increase over the prior spring and the highest rate recorded in the past 10 years!

To be a truly transformative university, we must give students the tools to finish their degrees. And then, with those degrees in hand – whether they’re associate, undergraduate, master’s or doctoral degrees – we know that Montana State University alumni will go out into their communities and make an impact.

We are so proud of these graduates. They have worked hard and achieved their goals. They are the next leaders of Montana. And we can’t wait to see what they do next.

In Blue and Gold,

Signature of MSU President Waded Cruzado

Waded Cruzado, president
Montana State University