A new semester is just around the corner at the University of Montana.
President Seth Bodnar says last year was challenging and uncertain, but he highlighted some positive changes in his State of the University address on Tuesday.
Things like a 60% decrease in the budget deficit, a 17% increase in students taking online courses, and increased staffing in the financial aid office.
“While much discussion in previous years focused on cuts, reductions, challenges, we are focused today on growth, and strategic investment," Bodnar said during hte annual State of the University address.
Bodnar’s main talking point focused on growth -- the advising process is being re-designed, aimed at reaching 80% retention rates in the next few years.
“It’s one thing to bring students here, it’s another to help them persist and succeed through graduation," Bodnar said.
He added he wants six-year graduation rates at UM to reach 60%.
“We articulated last year five priorities for action, and at the top of that list, was to place student success at the center of all that we do," Bodnar said.
Despite recent cuts, UM is still hiring with more staff to be added to the Student Advocacy Resource Center, Disability Student Services, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative action.
“I think the past year has been an exciting transition of the University of Montana from a position of uncertainty to a position of stability," Bodnar said. "And I'm excited about working together with our team to transition from a place of stability to one of growth.”
The census for fall semester enrollment will be reported in the coming weeks.
Classes at the University of Montana in Missoula begin on Monday, Aug. 26.