Montana State University is proudly a land grant institution located right here in Bozeman, Montana. Established in 1893, MSU was founded with the intention of providing higher learning for the working class. Below we’ve compiled some interesting Montana State University history and traditions that many locals are even unaware of
Montana State University History
Several cities across Montana were in fierce competition to become the state’s capital. Bozeman thought itself to become a front runner, but ultimately lost out to Helena. As a consolation prize, Bozeman was selected to be the home of the state college. Established in 1893, Montana State University was the first institution founded in the state. It is interesting to note, though, that University of Montana was founded one day later. Originally MSU was called the “Agriculture College of the State of Montana” and in 1965 the name officially changed to Montana State University. The university has always been an open enrollment college, accepting all genders and races. Another interesting piece of Montana State University history and traditions is that before the MSU mascot was the Bobcat, they were know as the “Aggies” or “Farmers”.
Montana State University “M”
Anyone who has been to Bozeman has seen the iconic white “M” on Mount Baldy. This was constructed by the class of 1918 as a gift to the university. The location of the M was chosen to be perfectly viewed from the campus of MSU. Flares were used to communicate the proper spacing and construction of the M, which is made of painted white loose rocks. It took 60 students to build the M and has become an iconic symbol of the city of Bozeman. The Mount Baldy M is another one of the interesting Montana State University history and traditions.
Montana State University Traditions
MSU has a 102 year old fraternity and sorority system. Until the 1980’s, all Montana State University freshmen were given green beanies during the first week of orientation. The freshmen were required to wear them during the first week of class to indicate their status as new students. If any were caught without their beanie on they were placed in stocks at the center of campus. Another interesting Montana State University history and traditions facts is regarding the field house. Now a recognizable symbol in Bozeman’s skyline, when built in 1957 the large wood dome was the biggest in the country. Many students and residents thought the dome would collapse.
Stats and Facts about MSU
In 2018 the total enrollment at Montana State University surpassed 16,900. Approximately 23,000 students apply and 5,000 new students enroll at the university each year. For the fall semester of 2018, 53% of the new freshman were from out of state. Washington, California, Colorado are the top feeder states besides Montana. The bobcat is MSU’s mascot. it was selected in 1916 for its cunning, athletic prowess and independent spirit.