UM president looks to spark interest amid declining enrollment

Posted at 8:35 AM, Mar 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 10:40:02-04

BILLINGS – University of Montana President Seth Bodnar has made multiple trips to Billings looking to spark engagement with community members, alumni and prospective students with enrollment in a years-long decline.

“Billings is the state of Montana’s largest city,” Bodnar said Wednesday in Billings. “It’s a huge economic driver for this state and, as the University of Montana, I want to make sure that we are serving the state’s largest city as effectively as we can.”

Enrollment at the UM declined more than 7% between 2018 and 2019, which did not come as a surprise to university officials. But there is added pressure on the university, as enrollment at Montana State University in Bozeman continues to climb.

Seth Bodnar
University of Montana President Seth Bodnar (MTN News photo)

Bodnar said he doesn’t see it as a rivalry, but instead an opportunity to provide students in our state with an array of options for their future.

“I want to make sure that students are aware of the tremendous opportunities available at the University of Montana and that they make the right choice for them,” he said.

Bodnar said the job market is changing but education remains important, no matter what path students take.

“They are going to have to reinvent themselves over the course of their career and education is going to be a fundamental part of that,” said Bodnar.

“Everyone is going to have their own pathway…whether that’s a two-year, four-year, graduate work. Education is going to have to be a part of that to adapt and meet the needs of employers and the demands of a changing workforce.”

During his visits to Billings schools, he spoke with students about life on campus and highlighted some of the university’s successful programs.

”We have programs that will rival any institution in this country,” said Bodnar. “We want to make sure are accessible and well known my Montanans east to west.”

-Samantha Sullivan reporting for MTN News