Recent UM News and Highlights

Recent UM news and highlights


Categories: Alumni , Campus , Academic , Athletics , History , Research , Arts

UM Receives Largest Single Research Award In University History, $33.4M 

The National Institutes of Health has awarded the UM a five-year, $33.4 million award for the development and clinical trials of opioid vaccines. It is the largest such award in University history.

The award was funded through the NIH HEAL Initiative, a national effort to speed scientific solutions to the national opioid health crisis. It includes funding for two Phase One clinical trials of opioid vaccines developed by UM’s Center for Translational Medicine in collaboration with Inimmune Corp. (Dr. Kendal Ryter and Dr. David Burkhart) and the University of Minnesota (Dr. Marco Pravetoni).

The UM vaccine research team has spent more than two decades working to improve vaccines through the use of adjuvants – components added to vaccines to improve the immune response – and novel delivery systems to ensure vaccines are safely and efficiently delivered to the right cells.

“This funding is an enormous boost to the research we’ve already done on the development of an opioid vaccine and is validation of our world-class research team at UM,” says Dr. Jay Evans, principal investigator on this award and director of UM’s Center for Translational Medicine.


A group of lab scientists in white coats


UM Listed Among Best Universities for Solving the Coronavirus Pandemic

Montana ranked among the top 10 universities on Successful Student’s list for “Best Universities Solving the Coronavirus Pandemic,” joining schools like Harvard and Oxford in its commitment to helping defeat the coronavirus. The schools on the list are developing treatments, testing and diagnostics, contagion mapping, contact tracing, data collection and analyses and education for the COVID-19 pandemic. 



Missoula College and vent delivery

UM Creates New Native Think Tank for Montana Tribes  

Montana’s tribal nations now have a dedicated institute for all things policy, governance and research when it comes to the overall health of Indian Country. The Montana Board of Regents recently approved the creation of the American Indian Governance and Policy Institute at the UM.
The institute was created by and is currently directed by Heather Cahoon, assistant professor in the Department of Native American Studies.

The independent, nonpartisan research center will pull from expertise across the Montana University System, including expert scholars, researchers and students, to produce evidence-based information so that tribes can make informed decisions for a variety of governing decisions. The ultimate goal of the new institute, Cahoon says, is to address the core causes of poor socioeconomic health on Montana’s Indian reservations. 


Native elders at the graduation podium

Record for Research Activity 

UM set a new record for research expenditures, exceeding $100 million for the first time in its history. This fiscal year, UM reported $104.7 million in research expenditures to the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey. This is a 16% increase over the previous high of $90.6 million in FY2018 and a 90% increase from FY2014.

“This continued rise in the amount of funded research at UM is a testament to the hard work of our faculty, staff and students,” says Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship and dean of the Graduate School. “These numbers indicate that UM continues on the path to achieve a Carnegie Research Very-High Activity or R1 ranking. The funding also underscores how research at UM provides an economic engine for the community and state.”


UM has set a new record for research expenditures.

UM Announces New Public Health Degree 

The Montana Board of Regents recently approved a new bachelor’s program in public health at UM – just in time, as the world grapples with a global pandemic and a new generation of students are drawn to health care professions. The new degree is the only undergraduate track of its kind in Montana and is accredited by the Council of Education for Public Health.



UM is proud to offer a new bachelor’s program in public health.

Summer Enrollment Up

For a third consecutive year, summer enrollment increased. Up 2% from last summer, 3,142 students took summer courses at UM this year. Additionally, more UM summer students earned their degrees, certificates and minors this summer – totaling 549 degrees – up from 399 last summer. 


More than 3,100 students took summer courses at UM this year.

First Female Business Dean Announced 

The UM College of Business has hired Dr. Suzanne Tilleman as its Sprunk and Burnham Endowed Dean. She is the first woman to serve as permanent dean of the college. Born and raised in Havre, Tilleman has been a faculty member teaching management at UM since 2010. She has earned Outstanding Management Faculty honors multiple times and served as the management department chair from 2017 to 2019 before serving as interim dean following the departure of Dean Chris Shook.

“I look forward to continuing working with our faculty, alumni and partners as we evolve a curriculum that leverages data, analytics, value-added business and human processes,” Tilleman says.

Tilleman holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master of Business Administration in management from Tulane University and a Ph.D. in strategy and entrepreneurship from the University of Oregon.

Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Tilleman spent seven years working in industry and another four years teaching at Montana State University-Northern, where she discovered her love of teaching and developing students. Her industry experience includes working for some of the largest players in the natural resources arena: General Electric, Exxon and Monsanto.


Dr. Suzanne Tilleman  

UM Creates University Design Team to Chart Direction of Flagship’s Future  

Imagining a flagship for America’s future is the core mission of the University Design Team, a group of UM employees newly charged with charting the University’s future trajectory. The committee was created by UM President Seth Bodnar to position UM for long-term success and impact, and represents a cross-section of campus personnel and disciplines, including student representation.

Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and rapid changes in higher education and technology, the UDT ultimately is tasked with delivering a strategic vision for Montana’s flagship public research institution – one that serves students of the future and parlays UM’s people, programs and places into national prominence. The committee is expected to deliver design principles and strategic initiatives to President Bodnar this fall.


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