The Academic Ranking of World Universities recently honored the University of Montana as the best in Montana, and among the best in the world, as well.

KGVO News spoke to UM Director of Strategic Communications Dave Kuntz for details on the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.

“The Shanghai Rankings, which is an entity that ranks research activity across the globe, has ranked the University of Montana as the highest research enterprise in the state of Montana,” began Kuntz. “This is something that we're really proud of and it comes on the heels of our new R1 status, which is a Carnegie ranking that ranks research activity here in the United States among institutions of higher education. Since 2014, there have been lots of investments and attention paid to growing the university's research arm, and we're starting to see the fruits of those investments through our ability to climb up these rankings here in recent years.”

Kuntz said the research arm of the University of Montana is multifaceted.

“The research that is happening at the University of Montana isn't just growing in quantity, but it's also growing impact right now here on the campus itself,” he said. “There's big-time research that's looking to identify new vaccines to help curb the opioid epidemic. We're leading the charge in identifying snowpack trends in the Missouri River Basin, so that farmers, ranchers, anglers, and recreationists can help identify when we're going to be seeing drought and river levels. We have researchers that are improving health and patenting new medicines for hearing loss and other sorts of treatments.”

Kuntz pointed to the strong contributions from UM undergraduates in the Shanghai rankings.

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“Across the offerings of the University of Montana, we're working hard to be able to advance that research and give our students that opportunity to participate in that research,” he said. “What separates us a lot from our peers here at the University of Montana are our undergraduate students. Those freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are able to participate with our faculty on this research, and it really gives them a world-class experience here at the University of Montana to help solve some of the world's most pressing challenges.”

KGVO has often spoken to Scott Whittenburg, Vice President of Research for Creative Scholarship, about the impressive amount of research dollars coming into the University of Montana, and Kuntz agreed, with numbers totaling over $100 million.

“We do have a lot of money coming into the University of Montana right now,” he said. “It's well over $100 million that comes in annually to support our research enterprises. Since 2014, the University of Montana has become the sixth fastest growing research enterprise in the entire country in terms of growing those research opportunities. So we've been able to double and triple the value of research dollars that have been coming into UM in recent years, and we'll have next year's or last year's figure here in the coming weeks ahead, and we should be blowing by last year's record and out pretty significantly, as well.”

Click here to see the full Shanghai Rankings.

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