MSU is growing swiftly. The 2015-2016 academic year set the school’s enrollment record at 15,688 students, up 1.7 percent from the record of 15,421 students set the previous year. MSU owes a huge part of this jump to its engineering program, which has grown a remarkable 57 percent since 2010. The College of Engineering alone has 3,611 students. In comparison, the College of Letters and Science, which includes a host of majors such as English, history, physics, ecology, biochemistry and many more, has only 45 more students than the College of Engineering as of 2015.
While MSU attracts many aspiring engineers, UM attracts students with other interests. The College of Humanities and Science at UM currently has 4,707 students, including graduate students, while MSU’s College of Letters and Science has 3,656 students including graduate students.
In terms of overall enrollment, UM is not seeing the same growth rates as MSU. In fall 2015, UM’s enrollment was down 4.3 percent from the previous year. At its peak in 2010 UM had 15,669 students, nearly as many as MSU has now. But in 2015, only five years later, the number was 13,044. Because of these losses, UM has been forced to implement a hiring freeze and lay off 201 faculty members in the fall of 2015. The school has also been forced to cut down their programs in journalism, anthropology,, geography, liberal studies, art, political science, forestry management and even English, “one of the largest and most dynamic departments at the University of Montana,” as the UM website declares. UM is known for its creative writing program,which was named a program of national distinction in 2013 along with its organismal biology and ecology and wildlife ecology programs.
As student enrollment increases at MSU the physical campus is growing as well. In the past several years multiple buildings have been added to meet the needs of the expanding campus. Gallatin Hall, a residence hall for continuing students, opened in 2010, and the new freshman residence hall, Yellowstone Hall, is scheduled to open in fall of 2016. The new and improved Miller Dining Hall re-opened in the fall of 2015. MSU also opened Jabs Hall, the new of home of the College of Business. A parking garage is also currently under construction, while another dining hall to replace Harrison and Hannon dining halls is in the works.
Additionally, a $50 million donation was given to the College of Engineering in 2014; this money will be used to build the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center. All together, MSU is growing quickly, in large part due to the efforts of President Waded Cruzado who set forth the MSU Strategic Plan several years ago in an attempt to further the university’s growth.