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Montana Western To Hold 127th Annual Commencement Ceremony

The University of Montana Western will celebrate its 127th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 4, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. in the Straugh Gymnasium on the UMW campus.

“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.401 Montana Western graduates will be awarded over 486 degrees by the end of the 2023-24 academic year. Of the 401 students, 80 have completed two or more degrees, and 69% of the graduates are receiving honors by achieving a GPA of 3.33 or higher. 175 graduates have chosen to participate in this year’s ceremony. The ceremony’s Chief Marshal will be Doug Daenzer, M.S., Instructor of Business at the University of Montana Western.

This year’s commencement program will feature speaker Dr. Steve Mock, retired Professor of Chemistry Emeritus and Climbing Instructor in the Environmental Sciences Department at Montana Western.

Steve Mock’s journey from a small farming community in Indiana to his retirement in Dillon, Montana, is a testament to a life filled with adventure and dedication. Graduating from Manchester College in 1977, Steve and his wife, Jan, pursued their love for the wilderness, eventually settling in Missoula in 1978. Steve’s academic pursuits led him to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Montana State University in 1989, later joining the faculty at the University of Montana Western in 1991.

Outside academia, Dr. Mock’s passion for climbing led him to significant involvement with the Khumbu Climbing Center (KCC), a project of the Bozeman based Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation (ALCF) and Denali Rescue Volunteers (DRV). Serving as Co-Director of KCC for ten years, he played a vital role in training Nepali citizens in climbing and guiding. He also participated in Denali Ranger patrols, earning him the President’s role at DRV in 2018.

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Steve Mock back to Montana Western for our 127th Annual Commencement ceremony. Dr. Mock’s dedication to learning, teaching, and his adventurous spirit in the great outdoors provide a deep reservoir of experience and accomplishments to help inspire and celebrate our graduating students,” said Montana Western Chancellor, Michael Reid. “We look forward to his address, as he helps us celebrate their achievements and ignites a sense of possibility and excitement for their future.”

The University of Montana Western will honor Sharon Anderson with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award during this year’s commencement program. 

Anderson was born and raised in Dillon, Montana and attended Montana Western from 1970-1973, where she pursued a degree in Elementary Education with an English endorsement. Later, she earned a Master’s Degree in Education and obtained a principal endorsement. Anderson dedicated thirty-six years to teaching at the Dillon Elementary School District, instructing students across all grade levels, from first to eighth grade. Alongside her teaching career, she coached track and cross country at both the middle school and at Beaverhead County High School. Following her retirement from District #10, Anderson served as the Principal of Hamilton Middle School in 2010 and briefly held the position of Principal at Divide Rural School.

Throughout her 50-year career in education, Anderson also contributed as an adjunct professor at Montana Western, served as an elementary school board trustee, and played a pivotal role in observing and evaluating UMW students during Rural Fridays. She remains active as a substitute teacher at BCHS and supervises student teachers from UMW. She enjoys judging the Rural School Science Fair, track meets, and spelling bees. An active member of numerous community organizations, she was named “Volunteer of the Year” in 2023.

“Montana Western is proud to honor Sharon Anderson with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. Through her commitment to education and community service, Sharon has left a lasting and meaningful impact on those around her,” said Montana Western Foundation and Alumni Director, Roxanne Engellant.

Luncheon Honoring Sharon Anderson and the UMW Classes of 1974 and 1999

The Montana Western Alumni Office will host a luncheon in the Lewis and Clark Room in Mathews Hall on Friday, May 3, at 11:30 a.m. to honor Sharon Anderson and the Montana Western Classes of 1974 and 1999. Tickets can be purchased for $30 by calling 406-683-7306 or by visiting Anderson will be recognized for the award during the Commencement Ceremony on May 4.


Rehearsal for all graduates and degree candidates will be held on Friday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m. in the Lucy Carson Library and end in the Straugh Gymnasium. UMW staff will be available to answer any questions about the ceremony and order of events at Commencement.

Legacy Plaza Ceremony

An additional ceremony honoring the 2024 Graduating Class will be held on Friday, May 3, 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.

Bulldog Breakfast 

Montana Western is hosting the annual Bulldog Breakfast from 7:00-9:30 a.m. in UMW’s Dining Hall for all Commencement guests prior to the ceremony on May 4. Please RSVP online by Thursday, May 2, 2024:   

Breakfast will feature waffles, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, biscuits and gravy, sweet rolls, muffins, coffee cake, fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, granola, chilled juice, fresh brewed coffee, and assorted teas. The cost will be $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 2-10. Payment will be taken directly by Dining Services via cash or card. Reservations are requested for planning purposes but are not required to attend. 


Graduates and degree candidates will need to arrive dressed in their full regalia for check-in no later than 9:00 a.m. at the Lucy Carson Library.


Guests can begin seating in the Straugh Gymnasium and Keltz Arena (both located in the BARC) at 9:00 a.m. Seating in the Straugh Gymnasium requires tickets reserved in advance by all participating graduates and degree candidates. Seating in the Keltz Arena, an additional ceremony viewing location, is open and does not require tickets. Visit for more 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 4 by visiting

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

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