Missoula Current

The president of the University of Montana will be stepping down, effective this month, the Montana University System announced Thursday morning.

Clay Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education, announced the change in leadership in a statement released this morning.

“After careful discussion and consideration, University of Montana President Royce Engstrom and I have decided that he will step down as UM’s president effective December 31. I asked President Engstrom to consider this transition at this time based on my belief that a change in leadership direction is the right step for UM going forward. I greatly appreciate the graciousness and care with which President Engstrom engaged in our discussion.

"On behalf of the Board of Regents and myself, I want to thank President Engstrom for his hard work and steadfast dedication to the University of Montana. His leadership efforts have strengthened this great university in many respects. He and his administrative team, working together with UM’s tremendous faculty, staff and students, have accomplished a lot for which all are to be commended."

Engstrom took over as UM president in October 2010 after serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs. He arrived in Missoula in 2007 from the University of South Dakota.

Under Engstrom's leadership, Christian said, the productivity of UM’s competitive research enterprise has reached an all-time high. UM’s development and nurturing of private gift support is at an all-time high, Christian added.

The school's athletic programs are also recognized both for their play and academic success, as well as their compliance with NCAA regulations and guidelines.

"I speak for the Montana University System in extending deep gratitude to President and Mary Engstrom for their unwavering devotion these past six years to serving UM students, staff, faculty, all campus personnel, alumni and supporters, the greater UM community, and the state of Montana," the statement concluded.