Letter from the Director

A Sense of Place

A colleague of mine mentioned years ago that when introducing myself at meetings and conferences I normally said I was from Libby, Montana, though I’d lived in Missoula for decades. “Why mention Libby?” he asked. My response was that, in Montana, a sense of place is very important. Saying I’m from Libby tells people in Montana something about me.

I have mentioned this method of introduction in other messages and writings. Why do I mention it again? Because a sense of place continues to be very important to the students learning and people working at the University of Montana. Yes, the University can boast of national and international recognition: UM is ranked among the nation’s top degree producers for Native Americans, among the top 350 universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and three UM faculty members were lauded in the 2014 publication The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds—the only faculty from the state of Montana to be so recognized. But studying at the University with world-class faculty also means living in Missoula.

Missoula is a community rich with diversity and opportunities. Recently it was ranked by Livability.com as the eighth out of 100 “Best Places to Live.” This past August, Outside magazine announced that Missoula was ninth on a list of sixteen “Greatest Places to Live in America.” These rankings are just a few of many others that highlight what a great place Missoula is and how important it is for the people who live, work, and study here to have a sense of pride in this place.

I am blessed to work for a world-class university, and I have the opportunity to live in one of the most livable communities in the U.S. What a great combination. I encourage you to read more about these recognitions and the exciting things happening at the University and in Missoula by visiting UM’s website, www.umt.edu.

Bill Johnston ’79, M.P.A. ’91
Director, Alumni Relations
President and CEO, UM Alumni Association