University of Montana President Royce Engstrom delivered his 2016 State of the University Address before staff, faculty, community members and some early arriving students on Friday morning. 

The emphasis was on enhancing enrollment from the outset with the introduction of a new television spot entitled 'Let's Go There', to help market the university both on the air and online. Engstrom touted the accomplishments of faculty and graduates over the summer, and then began discussing the issue of enrollment.

"No doubt about it, enrollment is both our biggest challenge and our biggest opportunity," Engstrom said. "Put simply, we need more students. I won't repeat the various reasons for our enrollment situation here, instead, I want to focus on four areas in which we are moving forward. First we hired Tom Crady as our Vice President for Enrollment management and Student Affairs. This is not a new administrative position, but a reconfigured one. Tom and his team are already working to improve the basic operations of enrollment management..

Engstrom then addressed the issue of customer service.

"I will be honest with you," he said. We have a lot of work to do in this area," he said. "Whether you like to think of our students as customers or not, we are in a highly competitive market where students have lots of choices. They are making their decisions based just as much on how welcome they feel to how their questions are addressed, as they are on curriculum and location."

Following the address, Engstrom held a press conference with local media.

One questioner stated that MSU officials have already touted what they feel will be another 'miracle year' of record enrollment, and asked President Engstrom for his response.

"Let me state first that we will not have a record enrollment, that is not in the cards for this fall," he said. "Beyond that, I won't go into detail. There are many factors at play when determining an institution's enrollment. I'm grateful and very proud that our sister institution, Montana State University, is doing so well in terms of enrollment right now."

"They have a curriculum that's a little different from ours in terms of engineering and agriculture, and we know that engineering is a very popular major right now and we don't do engineering here," he said. "If you look at the long 120 year history of our institutions, this isn't the first time we've gone through a cycling of enrollment with the shifting of demographics between the two institutions, and right now, MSU is doing very well, so hats off to them for their academic programming that's attracting students through the effective recruiting methods that they're using."

"Here, we are doing everything we can to adopt state-of-the-art recruiting methods as well,  but we are working within the mission of our institution in terms of academic programming," Engstrom said.

Fall enrollment numbers won't be released until after the 15th day of classes in the fall semester.

Reduced enrollment and the subsequent budget cuts forced a reduction of staff and faculty last winter, sparking unrest across campus among both students and faculty.

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