UMW to Hold 124th Annual Commencement Ceremonies

The University of Montana Western will celebrate its 124th Annual Commencement Ceremony in-person and online on Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1, 2021.


346 Montana Western graduates will be awarded at least 388 degrees by the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Of the 346 students, 42 have completed two or more degrees, and 65% of the graduates are receiving honors by achieving a GPA of 3.33 or higher.


To ensure the health and safety of the community and guests, this year’s Commencement will be divided into three ceremonies that will be held over April 30 and May 1. A graduate’s ceremony is designated by their degree and major.




Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for the following days and times:


  • Ceremony I: Friday, April 30 at 3:00 p.m.- Business, Health and Human Performance/Kinesiology, and Natural Horsemanship/Equine Studies majors


  • Ceremony II: Saturday, May 1 at 10:00 a.m.- Education majors


  • Ceremony III: Saturday, May 1 at 3:00 p.m.- Modern History, Psychology, Anthropology and Sociology, English, Visual Arts, Interdisciplinary Social Science, Mathematics, Environmental Science, Environmental Interpretation, Environmental Sustainability, Biology, Ecology, and Associate of Arts/Science majors


In-person attendance is limited to four pre-invited guests per graduate, but all are invited to watch the live stream of each ceremony by visiting the Southwestern Montana News Facebook page. Visit the link below on the day of the ceremony to watch the live stream:

https://www.facebook.com/Southwesternmtnews Or YouTube



The Chief Marshals for Ceremonies I, II, and III will be as follows: Kevin Engellant, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Business, Laura Straus, Ph.D., Professor of Education, and Alan Weltzien, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of English.


Each ceremony this year will feature a different Commencement Speaker.



Ceremony I: Mike Ferretti

Mike Ferretti is the CEO and Chairman of Great Harvest Franchising based in Dillon, Mont. Under Ferretti’s leadership, Great Harvest has grown to approximately 200 locations and over $100 million in sales nationwide. One of Ferretti’s proudest achievements is the institution and expansion of “Charity Bake Days.” Stemming from post 9-11 relief efforts, all new Great Harvest franchisees work in the Dillon Great Harvest with proceeds going to local charities. Over the course of their 19 years, these bake days have produced close to $1 million for the Dillon community.


Ceremony II: Dr. David Yarlott

Dr. David Yarlott, currently President of Little Big Horn College, is Korean and Crow and grew up in Crow Agency, Mont., before attending college as a first-generation student in the early 1980’s. Yarlott went on to earn three degrees from the University of Montana. While attending graduate school at MSU, Yarlott was offered an opportunity to teach at Little Big Horn College and went on to become the college’s president in 2002. Priorities of his tenure as president included expansion of infrastructure, while emphasizing green technology, consistent with his value of “being kinder to the earth.” Yarlott was a founder of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium Athletic Commission, on the board of the World Indigenous Games, Chair of the Governing Board of Trustees for the American Indian College Fund, and Commissioner for the Northwest Commission on College and University Accreditation.


Ceremony III: Joe Morstein

Joe Morstein is a 1962 graduate of Western Montana College. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and spent his first years in education at Dillon Middle School before purchasing his own business in 1967. In 1982, Morstein was inducted into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame for his efforts with Bulldog Football. Joe was the NAIA leading punter nationally in 1960 and received bids from the NFL but instead chose a career in Christian youth work and ownership of the Dillon Disposal Service which he ran for 50 years. Morstein was awarded the Montana Western Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2002 for his dedication and service to Montana Western and the Dillon community.


“This is a real milestone in the lives of our graduates and their families. It is gratifying to see the culmination of the hard work on the part of our students, faculty and staff,” Chancellor Beth Weatherby said.


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

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