A Mountain of Support

Student success priority update: UM enhances professional advising and faculty mentoring to guide students to graduation

UM implemented changes to its fall 2019 orientation to help students track a course for academic success from their earliest days as students.

Each student’s pathway to graduation is unique. That is why the University of Montana is working to ensure every student receives the individualized support and connection they need along their own distinctive journey.

Through an integrated set of new and improved initiatives — which span every area of student life, from academics to civic engagement to financial aid — UM is redesigning the student experience. The goal is to remove barriers and connect students to resources that support their educational success in a caring environment.

The innovations draw upon national best practices, research and UM innovations and are designed to help students persist to graduation and succeed in post-graduate studies and careers.

Initial changes have already had an impact. Retention of freshman students from their first to second year — a key university indicator — grew from 68 percent to 71 percent between academic years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. A single-year gain of three percentage points is considered exceptional for any higher education institution, and research-based decisions are driving further improvements for UM and its students.  

“We are committed to creating a network of support and empowerment for individual students, using approaches designed around best practices in student success and that leverage rich data analytics,“ said Provost and Executive Vice President Jon Harbor. “These changes will systematically and significantly improve the experience of all UM students and move the needle even further on retention.”

Future innovations will focus on expanding and elevating the work of professional academic advisors who are specifically trained to help students navigate challenges, identify pathways to success and stay on track to reach their academic goals. And, the University will offer focused support for faculty mentors serving a unique and critical role in helping students assess professional opportunities, engage in transformational research and field experiences, and network within professional communities.

Together, professional advisors and faculty mentors will guide and support students, strengthening their sense of belonging in the University community, helping students differentiate themselves among young professionals, and developing their capacity for persistence toward lifelong achievement.

Be Part of the Transformation

Enhancing UM’s student success program is a top UM leadership priority. We hope the UM vision will inspire you to support these efforts.

Your gifts will:

  • Connect students with professional advisors and faculty mentors
  • Ensure students participate in high-impact experiential practices such as internships, co-ops, undergraduate research and capstone projects
  • Create an emergency grant fund to empower students to transition past a moment of short-term financial need and continue in their college career

To give, see the Leadership Priorities page at CampaignMontana.org.