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Montana Western To Hold 125th Annual Commencement Ceremony

The University of Montana Western will celebrate its 125th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at 10 a.m. in the Straugh Gymnasium on the UMW campus.

Additional events will be held the weekend of Commencement, including the Legacy Plaza Ceremony, the Community Dribble event with Commencement speaker, Tara VanDerveer, and the Distinguished Alumni Recognition Luncheon honoring J.P. Gallagher and the UMW Classes of 1972 and 1997.

Legacy Plaza Ceremony

An additional ceremony honoring the 2022 Graduating Class will be held on Friday, May 6, at 3:30 p.m. on the campus’s Legacy Plaza. This celebration is part of a special tradition at Montana Western held at the end of each academic year on the eve of the Commencement Ceremony that celebrates and honors the graduates for the completion of their degrees and the legacy that they will leave at UMW.

Commencement Speaker: Tara VanDerveer

This year’s commencement program will feature speaker Tara VanDerveer, legendary Stanford Women’s Basketball Coach and the all-time winningest coach in women’s basketball. She is one of the top coaches in the history of the sport, both collegiately and internationally, and is a member of both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

VanDerveer recently pledged to donate funds for humanitarian relief efforts for Ukraine based on $10 donated for each successful three-point shot, from every team in the 2022 NCAA women’s tournament from beginning to end. VanDerveer is also a vital benefactor to Montana Western’s tribal college education partnership program with Blackfeet Community College and Little Big Horn College.

Community Dribble Event with Tara VanDerveer

Community members of all ages are invited to the “Community Dribble with Tara VanDerveer” event on Saturday, May 7, at 4:30 p.m. on the Legacy Plaza. Registration is required and the first 300 registrants will receive a free basketball. Please visit to register and bring a non-perishable food item when you arrive to support the Beaverhead Food Pantry. At 5:00 p.m., participants will dribble to the B.W. Lodge heading down S. Dakota Street and will enjoy hotshot and 3-point contests and have the opportunity to meet Coach VanDerveer. Prizes will be awarded to the winners in each category.

Distinguished Alumni Service Award Recipient: J.P. Gallagher

J.P. Gallagher graduated from Montana Western in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and health and a minor in history. He went on to receive a Master’s in Education in 2008 from Graceland University focused on quality schools and a Master’s in Education from Montana State University in 2011.

Gallagher served in the United States Navy and was honorably discharged in 1986. Three years later, he started at Montana Western when the university was rebuilding their football program under the direction of Coach Mick Dennehy. After graduation, Gallagher taught and coached football at Choteau High School and Flathead High School before heading to Butte High in 2003 where he taught physical education and history over the next seven years and served as the head golf coach. He then spent five years as principal at Whittier Elementary School before he was named Butte-Silver Bow Parks and Recreation Director in 2015. In 2020, Gallagher was elected as Chief Executive Officer of Butte-Silver Bow.

Luncheon Honoring J.P. Gallagher and the UMW Classes of 1972 and 1997

The Montana Western Alumni Office will host a luncheon in the Lewis and Clark Room in Mathews Hall on Friday, May 6, at 11:30 a.m. to honor Gallagher and the Montana Western classes of 1972 and 1997. Tickets are $15 and available by calling 406-683-7306. Gallagher will then be recognized for the award during the Commencement Ceremony on May 7.

“We look forward to celebrating this important milestone for our students, and we are proud of all of their accomplishments,” said Montana Western Chancellor, Michael Reid.

The ceremony’s Chief Marshal will be Karl Ulrich, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Science.

389 Montana Western graduates will be awarded at least 420 degrees by the end of the 2021-22 academic year. Of the 389 students, 40 have completed two or more degrees, and 64% of the graduates are receiving honors by achieving a GPA of 3.33 or higher. 205 graduates have chosen to participate in this year’s ceremony.

Graduates should arrive with regalia by 9:15 a.m. for line up.

Livestream Information

For those who are unable to attend in person, a livestream of Saturday’s Commencement Ceremony will be available starting at 10:00 a.m. on May 7 by visiting the Southwestern MT News Facebook page or YouTube channel.

For more information about Commencement, please contact the Montana Western Registrar’s Office by calling 406-683-7371.

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