Missoula Story of the Week: Missoula College Expansion


The University of Montana has many notable and important virutes, many of which benefit not only students, but the entire town.

The school’s campus, while being home to excellent educational opportunities is also surrounded by abundant wildlife and recreational choices. These aspects of Missoula’s university district have enticed people to buy homes and raise families in the area. The natural beauty that is incorporated into this part of town often makes proposed changes to the area an extremely sensitive topic.

The recent plan to develop a swath of land south of the university’s main campus is one such change that has put many of the area’s residents at odds with the institution.

University leaders are holding a series of meetings to address concerns about the expansion of the Missoula College (formally the College of Technology) on the land which has been home to the University Golf Course since the 1920s. The first of several workshops concerning the project was held Wednesday night, with two more scheduled after the first of the year, according to a KPAX.com article.

Quoted in the KPAX news story, University of Montana President Royce Engstrom attempted to quell some of the controversy surrounding the expansion stating, “We have no interest in doing something that’s going to detract from that high standing as an attractive campus that is conducive to people recreating and enjoying the outdoors environment, consolidated in with the learning environment. So we want this to be a beautiful and attractive campus.”

The University of Montana sign blanketed in snow.

Despite reassurances that the project will contain open space, a greenway connecting the main campus, and additional parking, the eventual closure of the University Golf Course has sparked a public outcry by some residents. The golf course also plays host to many cross-country running events that bring people from surrounding cities to Missoula.

Also, while some open space is planned for the project, it will be greatly reduced leaving less recreational opportunities for the area.

While change is never easy, the expansion of the Missoula College will inevitably bring increased enrollment to the university and with it more money for the city of Missoula. The project highlights the struggle Missoula has always faced concerning the growth in the area.

Recent economic troubles have put increased educational opportunities in demand; however, in this case these opportunities may also mean the loss of a piece of Missoula.

A PDF of the master plan for the south campus expansion of the Missoula College can be found on the UM website.


Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.