UM’s College of Business celebrated its centennial with a weekend of festivities that drew alumni and friends from near and far. Pictured here: attendees Craig Swenson and Pat Foote. (Photo Courtesy of the College of Business)

UM’s College of Business celebrated its centennial with a weekend
of festivities that drew alumni and friends from near and far.
Pictured here: attendees Craig Swenson and Pat Foote. (Photo Courtesy of the College of Business)

(From the November 2018 edition of the Montana Chamber of Commerce member magazine, the Eye on Business) 

By: Chris Shook, Sprunk and Burnham Endowed Dean, University of Montana College of Business

This year marks the centennial of the College of Business at the University of Montana — and there is so much to celebrate.

It’s humbling to think that over a century, we have helped prepare more than 20,000 alumni here in Missoula to do work that has bolstered local economies throughout Montana. Since its inception, the College of Business has helped prepare graduates to take management positions with global and local companies, helping them launch careers as accountants, IT consultants, marketing professionals, and entrepreneurs.

The quality of the education we provide our students is what prepares them for success. Over the years, our college has built a thorough, well-rounded educational experience featuring global travel opportunities, internships, hands-on and project-based classroom learning, and applied techniques taught by expert instructors.

We’re the top-ranked business school in Montana (and No. 1 in the entire Big Sky Conference, which spans eight states), according to US News and World Report.

The College of Business traces its roots to a time when just three faculty members were teaching about 25 students. Our course offerings back then included classes such as stenography and typing, which were popular as preparation for students taking Army clerical assignments during World War I. We’ve come a long way since our inception. By the time our school was established, in 1918, we’d expanded to offer courses such as elementary accounting, commercial law, court reporting, business organization, real estate, and insurance.

We honored our past with a celebration in September that featured organizations founded and operated by successful alumni, including well-known Montana businesses such as Big Dipper Ice Cream, Five on Black Brazilian Grille, Market on Front, the M Store, and Big Sky Brewing. To have our alumni and friends reunite around this occasion was nothing short of phenomenal.

While our centennial year is about honoring our past, it’s also about recognizing the bright future that’s yet to come for businesses in Montana, and it’s about continuing to prepare our students to be leaders.

The College of Business now offers six majors, six certificates, three graduate degrees and a minor. Majors consist of accounting, finance, international business, management, management information systems and marketing. Graduate degrees consist of a Master of Accountancy, Master of Science in Business Analytics, and a Master of Business Administration.

Our MBA – the only MBA program in Montana – has grown by 30 percent in the past couple years. It’s one of the more affordable master’s programs in the country, and as of this year students can earn credit anytime, anywhere so they can fit it in around their busy schedules.

All of our programs are enhanced by strong relationships with alumni and networks with professional companies around the world. Since the college doesn’t just help prepare students for careers (we also support students working to launch their own ventures), Missoula is full of businesses and organizations started by College of Business alumni who are willing to participate in current students’ education. Each year about 100 professionals working for all kinds of companies pass through our building to impart wisdom to our students.

Thanks to these experiences and a team of faculty and staff who work with students individually to help ensure their success, most of our students participate at least one internship during their time with us. The vast majority of our alumni have jobs or are in graduate school within three months of graduation. I’m honored to be a part of the team that’s preparing the next generation of business leaders — the ones who will make an impact over the next 100 years. We’re changing lives and giving students skills to launch and support businesses in Montana and beyond, and I can’t imagine work more fulfilling than that.

To learn more about the UM College of Business, visit

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