The President’s Perspective


Categories: Campus , Academic


Earlier this spring, I had the pleasure of welcoming to our campus the next group of Humphrey Fellows. Our Office of International Programs, through its English Language Institute, is hosting twelve mid-career professionals from countries around the world for a five-month language and cultural immersion experience. One by one, the students introduced themselves. They are from countries such as Afghanistan, Togo, Haiti, Madagascar, and Cameroon.

Named after Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and managed by the U.S. Department of State, the program is one of only two in the United States. It’s designed to build awareness and friendship between countries. After the Fellows complete their work at UM, they will move on to another university to complete one more year of work related to their positions at home.

All of the Fellows expressed considerable gratitude for being selected and for the opportunity to study in such a beautiful place and on such a vibrant campus. I assured them that we, too, are enriched by their presence. We now have hosted three classes of Humphrey Fellows, and the presence of the program on our campus speaks loudly about the dedication of our staff and the international atmosphere at UM.

Last fall, UM set a record in the number of international students enrolled here—832 students, representing about 5 percent of the total student population. Brazil accounted for the largest increase in enrollment, from forty-five students in spring 2014 to more than 100 last fall.

Language is a key area of study at UM. Our core programming in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures features ten languages: Greek, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. Opportunities exist for students that go beyond these ten languages, too. We also have courses in Irish and have offered Blackfoot in the past and will again during fall semester. Such an array of languages is unusual for any institution and reflects an area of pride at UM.

Several other special language programs thrive at UM. The Defense Critical Language and Culture Program of the Mansfield Center teaches languages to military personnel. For example, recent graduates of the program completed an intensive fifty-two-week course on the Dari language and Afghan culture. You can read more about this program on Page 20 of this issue. Another Mansfield Center program, the Confucius Institute, brings Mandarin to K-12 students, and the Arabic program also brings language opportunities to pre-college students.

In February, we held our second TEDx event, a series of fascinating, short presentations by stellar faculty, staff, and community members. The theme of TEDx this year was—you guessed it—language. The talks can be viewed online at 

Language and cultural studies are essential to a twenty-first century education. At UM, we are proud of our strength and tradition in these essential academic arenas.

Please enjoy this edition of the Montanan!

President Engstrom
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