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Wildlife Biology Program Named Program of National Distinction

Three top programs at The University of Montana – creative writing, organismal biology and ecology, and wildlife biology – recently were named Programs of National Distinction (PoND).

The three were selected by UM’s Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for the honor, which aims to maintain or stimulate development of programs of national or world-class excellence.

“There are many strong programs at UM,” Provost Perry Brown said, “but our desire has been to identify those that have national distinction based upon several criteria and then to provide resources to assist these programs to enhance this distinction – to be among the very best in the nation.”

During autumn semester, more than 30 UM programs and departments submitted short funding proposals in a competitive contest. Units had to demonstrate how they qualify for PoND designation by addressing characteristics such as scholarly output, quality of students and educational outcomes. Programs also revealed how they influence policy, research, creative scholarship and education from the local to international levels.

“This recognition is a wonderful honor for all who have participated in the Wildlife Biology Program over the past 75 years,” Director Dan Pletscher said. “Les Pengelly, John Craighead and Phil Wright provided a tremendous legacy in wildlife conservation carried on today by our alumni and current faculty members such as Scott Mills, Tom Martin and Erick Greene. With this recognition at a time when wildlife and conservation are more important than ever, the best is yet to come.”

The Wildlife Biology is the second-highest ranked wildlife program in the US; has two endowed chairs; more than 350 undergraduate students; and nearly 60 graduate students. Its faculty publish more than 60 refereed journal articles and books per year, including numerous in the top-ranked journals of the field, such as Journal of Wildlife Management, Ecology, and Conservation Ecology. The Wildlife Biology faculty also bring in more than $4,000,000 per year in research funding. Its students are also top-rated: many are in the Honors College; more than 70% are employed in the field after graduation. The work of the program has significant impact of important policy and conservation issues.