Do you remember having trouble getting around town or into stores on August 17th, move-in day at the University of Montana? Cathy Cole might have had something to do with that!

The University of Montana’s Vice President for Enrollment, Cathy Cole, addressed the monthly City Club luncheon on Monday to speak about enrollment and other issues that affect students on campus.

Prior to her address, Cole spoke with reporters about some of the methods that UM is using to both attract and keep students, encouraging them to spend all four years on the Missoula campus.

“One method is the new student orientation called ‘The Big Sky Experience’, which is a whole week-long program where students come the week before school, and we’re pretty excited about that,” said Cole. “They are organized into cohorts of 25 students so that we can get them involved the minute they come on campus. We have two-person teams, a faculty member and an administrator who are assigned to each residence hall and we adopt 50 students so they’ll be engaged one-on-one on that floor each week, and we have to do something with the students whether it’s academics or it’s just taking them to a ballgame or just ordering a pizza with them. But it’s really all about engaging with them outside the classroom.”

Cole addressed the now iconic story of how she signed up her dog to receive information as a prospective student after it was discovered that the software for the program wasn’t working correctly.

“That was our software that actually communicates with students across the country,” she said. “We actually took our system offline for three full months and we were able to re-engineer it, so now that program is sending out about two and a half emails a month to each prospective student around the world. Now, we’re actually getting messages from students saying ‘that’s enough, please stop sending so much’, and my dog did help with that.”

Cole also emphasized the many-sided relationship between the University of Montana and the City of Missoula.

“We feel that when the city of Missoula thrives, we thrive, and we want to be excellent partners with them,” she said. “We felt it this year during move-in day on August 17th. Best Buy and Target had their best sales days ever this year, so that was awesome. There were lines everywhere. You couldn’t drive through downtown Missoula, which was also awesome, so it’s a good problem to have.”

No firm numbers have yet been released for fall enrollment. That will not occur until med September.

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