- Editorial Offices
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- Icons By Maria Maldonado
As you can see from the cover of this issue, we connect the University of Montana with the planet Mars. UM alumni are naming features on Mars after the places we know so well here in Western Montana. For example, there’s a Martian rock formation called “Missoula,” as well as an area on Mars called “Marias Pass.”
But this issue is about more than place names, even in outer space. This issue is about pioneers and pushing new boundaries—UM graduates who are deeply involved with some of the most important space missions in the world. You will learn about an alum who first discovered that water existed on Mars, one who is the first to see images of the Red Planet sent back from the Curiosity rover, one who studies Pluto, and one who just might help design, build, and fly a spacecraft.
These alumni started in majors such as geosciences and physics and astronomy, and these programs are even more vibrant today. Our students study with faculty such as Associate Professor Nate McCrady and the multi-telescope observatory in Arizona designed to hunt for rocky planets similar to Earth around nearby stars. They study with Professor Dan Reisenfeld, who’s a member of the Cassini research team that studies Saturn. And that’s just a taste of what’s going on at UM in this one area of study. So the next time you look up to the night sky, know that UM is there.
This Montanan also features two other graduates who truly are pioneers:
Our successful graduates testify to the power of a UM education: the values of discovery, creativity, and a broad, liberal arts-based curriculum. I mention that because some people worry these values are changing as UM resolves enrollment and related budget challenges. Nothing is further from the truth.
Indeed, UM does face a lower enrollment today of 13,000 students, and we are working this winter and spring season to adjust our employee numbers to reflect that. We are keeping the campus community informed as we move through this process, and I welcome you to follow the news on our budget communications webpage at www.umt.edu/president/.
There always will be challenges before the University of Montana, but we will have the resources so that our intrepid students, faculty, and alumni continue to push new frontiers.
You can help your alma mater. Share your stories about your time at UM. If you know someone considering college, tell them about the quality of your education. Send them our way by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will follow up. Let them know what UM means to you and how, when they arrive on the Oval—under that big M and Main Hall—they’ll thrive.
Royce C. Engstrom, President