ex·po·nent: noun \ik-ˈspō-nənt, ˈek-ˌ\ a person who believes in and promotes the truth or benefits of an idea or theory.
The first issue of the The College Exponent was published on May 30, 1895. It featured an article by then-president James Reid articulating his ideas on higher education. The names of the editors and contributors, and even the reason behind the newspaper’s name, have been lost to time, but a framed copy still hangs in the Exponent office.
A little over a year later, on Oct. 21, 1896, the cornerstone of Montana Hall (then Main Hall) was laid on top of a time capsule — a box marked with Masonic emblems of the compass and square. Several copies of the Exponent were included inside the box, along with college catalogs, building blueprints, a list of Masonic members and a silver dollar. I’m not sure if the box remains today, but it’s humbling to think the Exponent was placed at the cornerstone of campus.
In 1910, the Exponent was officially placed under student leadership, and has remained so since.
Perhaps the biggest event in the Exponent’s history came in 1916 when editors Lester Cole and Fred Bullock advocated in a front-page editorial for a change from Montana State College’s old nickname “Aggies” to our current mascot, the Bobcat. A monument to their words and the change can still be seen in front of the Spirit statue, north of Montana Hall.
Throughout the years up to today, the Exponent has served generations of Bobcats. It has seen affluent times and hard times, been a artsy, offbeat, news magazine, and (like today) a newspaper more seriously focused on covering campus issues.
Unfortunately a lot of the Exponent’s history has been lost with time and the inevitable change of generations. Interested readers can find additional Exponent history in the soon-to-be-organized Exponent archives in our office, SUB 366, or the much better organized archives in Renne Library.