University of Montana President Royce Engstrom presented the annual "State of the University" address today.
UM's fall semester starts next week. The "State of the University" is an annual speech presented this time of year and is an opportunity to lay-out issues and accomplishments of the past year as well as present goals for the upcoming school year.
Engstrom opened his presentation by addressing what he described as the hard work UM took on in the past year in the realm of campus safety. It's not the first time he's discussed campus safety during this speech, but it is the first time sexual assault has been directly mentioned in this venue:
"We see now that the nation has recognized sexual assault as a matter of epidemic proportions. We were among the first to interact with the Department of Justice through a Resolution document; now some 75 institutions around the country are under investigation. We at UM took this matter extremely seriously, recognizing that we have a key responsibility to our students. the educational programming now completed by 20-thousand students has made a difference and has served as a model for other institutions. Difficult a time as that was, we emerged as a stronger institution, a safer campus, much better integrated with Missoula law enforcement, and something of a national leader."
Enrollment at UM has been another significant challenge over the past couple of years. UM's fall semester enrollment last year was 14-thousand-525 students; or 418 fewer than 2012.
U-M's 2012 fall semester enrollment declined by over 700 from autumn of 2011 which set a record of 15-thousand-669 students.
This year's fall enrollment won't be known for several weeks, but Engstrom says officials have self-evaluated UM's recruiting and marketing efforts, improving recruiting materials and redoubling efforts to contact prospective students.
He also re-affirmed UM's commitment to a liberal arts education, and wants to identify campus programs challenged by low enrollment or relevance and figure out how to strengthen them.
Engstrom is also launching a new initiative called "Financial Management for Tomorrow's UM" which aims to update and improve outdated campus financial practices and financial arrangements.