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Montana Tech has chosen a new name.

Chancellor Don Blackketter has accepted a recommendation from the university’s Work Group for Institutional Realignment for Excellence — or WIRE, as it is commonly known — for the school to drop its official tag as Montana Tech of the University of Montana and to become formally known as Montana Technological University.

Blackketter will formally present the name to the Montana Board of Regents for consideration at its next meeting, May 23-24, in Havre.

The idea of choosing a new institutional name was first broached last spring, soon after the Board of Regents designated the school a special focus four-year university.

As the only special-focus institution in the 16-school Montana University System, Montana Tech administrators formed the WIRE committee to help navigate the changes that might result from the new designation. Since then, WIRE has spent the past year looking at everything from student recruitment to faculty salaries to the degrees being offered to departmental organization, all in an effort to find ways to enhance how the university is arranged and focused.

According to WIRE Co-Chair Dan Trudnowski, the name Montana Technological University will help embody deeper institutional changes, many of which are still undetermined or have been made public.

“Montana Tech being classified as a special-focus institution within the MUS enables a new and exciting chapter for our school,” Trudnowski said in a press release. “Our new name is the first page in this chapter.”

Montana Tech announced WIRE had picked three options for a new name earlier this spring: Montana Technological University, Montana University of Science and Technology and Montana University of Science, Engineering and Technology. The university then reached out to alumni, students, faculty and other members of the public both electronically and in forums.

“The consideration of changing our name has been taken very seriously,” Blackketter said in a press release. “Certainly, there have been emotional, passionate and many positive responses. I believe WIRE arrived at a thoughtful resolution. I believe Montana Technological University will enhance our brand name Montana Tech, assist in recruiting students, faculty and staff, help funding agencies recognize us as a university, and further concrete our special focus mission and programs.”

Some on the Montana Tech campus have expressed reservations about what Tech’s transformation might mean for the Liberal Studies Department and other parts of the university that do not directly pertain to the school’s science and engineering special focus. But WIRE co-chair Hilary Risser said that the new name seeks to encapsulate the school’s range of offerings.  

“During the comment period, several individuals mentioned their feeling that Montana Technological University best captured the breadth of our academic programs,” Risser said in a press release. “We have exceptional programs in nursing, business and communications that these individuals felt were better represented by the name Montana Technological University.”

If the Board of Regents approves the recommendation, it will mark the school’s third name change in its 118-year history. It was known as the Montana State School of Mines from 1900, when it first opened, until 1965, when it became known as the Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology. In 1994, the name was changed again, to Montana Tech of the University of Montana.

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