Montana’s senior Senator Jon Tester and Attorney General Tim Fox addressed nearly 200 UM graduates on Saturday morning inside the Dennison Theater.

Tester, drawing from his experiences growing up on a farm, gave the students a ‘Top 10’ list of things they could learn from a farmer.

“I think in any business you’re in there are common threads,” said Tester. “Among them are you didn’t get there alone, a lot of people helped you and the proof is in this graduation and that takes hard work. Then, (holding up his mangled hand, injured during a farm accident) stay away from power tools.” That brought a laugh from the graduates and their families.

Tester commented on what he saw when he looked out over the sea of young faces in the audience at the Dennison Theater.

“This country’s got a great future,” he said. “The University of Montana does a great job of preparing people for this 21st century economy. Do we have our challenges? You bet, but with challenges come opportunities. These guys will have to fix a lot of problems that we’ve created, and I think that they’re going to be up to the task.”

Attorney General Fox was the keynote commencement speaker and the fact that he just earned his Masters of Administration degree in the last year, while he was successfully battling colon cancer, became an important part of his message.

“As a parent, I feel proud as they graduate, and so I certainly know how their families and friends feel about them making these accomplishments,” said Fox. “It was important for me to be here to share some words of encouragement and inspiration. I got my third degree this year and so this university is very special to me.”

Fox emphasized the rewards of public service to the graduates.

“12 of my 31 years of being a lawyer, a University of Montana School of Law graduate have been in public service, and that’s the most meaningful work I’ve ever done, including this job as Montana’s Attorney General for two terms, and I hope that many of those graduates choose a life of public service, because they can really make a difference.”

It was the school’s first ever fall commencement exercise.