Creator: Montana State University. Local Executive Board.

Historical Note: Montana State University, Bozeman, was founded in 1893 as the "Agricultural College of the State of Montana" by means of a statute signed into law by Governor John E. Rickards. The law stipulated that the institution was to be governed by a Local Executive Board of Education, a group of prominent citizens also appointed by the Governor which included Bozeman residents Peter Koch, Lester S. Willson, and Walter Cooper. This first board had tremendous power to set policy, establish a budget, and issue faculty contracts, recognizing only general direction from the State Board of Education. As a result, the Local Executive Board hired the first president, Augustus M. Ryon, and practiced oversight of all the college's finances. The Local Executive Board demonstrated the reach of their power within the first year of the college's existence by pressuring Ryon to resign as president and replacing him with James Reid. This act was followed by another purge of the faculty within a few years, this time permanently severing Ryon's connection with the college.

Over the next seventy years the name of the college changed, from the original named by statute to the "Montana State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts," or simply shortened to the "Montana Agricultural College." In 1965 the name was permanently changed to "Montana State University." During this same time the Local Executive Board gradually lessened their active role in oversight and became more of an advisory board to the university's president, giving up their role in financial affairs by 1953. This gradual change was underscored in 1972 when the new state constitution allowed for the formation of the State Board of Regents of Higher Education and an office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. The Regents assumed many of the duties that the original Local Executive Board had exercised and extends its oversight to all campuses in the Montana University System. In 2001 the duties of the System's various Local Executive Boards were confirmed by state law as "consultative and advisory service to the CEO of the institution as well as other duties as may be duly specified and communicated to them by, or on behalf of, the Board, CEO or the Commissioner of Higher Education."

Content Description Note: The minutes of the Local Executive Board of Montana State University trace its history from the first meetings in 1893 to those held in 1970. As might be expected, the earliest minutes have a more extensive record of the Board's deliberations (which concerned a wider variety of governance issues) than later documents. Personnel matters, buildings and grounds maintenance, curriculum discussions, management of the experiment station farm, and financial management data introduced during frequent meetings are recorded in detail within the first volume encompassing the years 1893-1902. The second volume, 1902-1907 also records more detail of meetings, but towards the end of the volume financial reports dominate. The next four volumes, covering the years 1907 to the first half of 1917, are almost entirely financial reports. When the narrative portion of the minutes resume during the latter half of 1917 in volume 6, the information demonstrates the shift from active governance to more advisory role taking place during less frequent meetings. The volumes have been chronologically arranged, with laid in materials removed and placed in appropriately labeled folders in box 2.


Box 1.
Vol. 1, March 1893-March 1902
Vol. 2, April 1902-November 1907
Vol. 3, December 1907-December 1910
Vol. 4, January 1911-April 1913
Vol. 5, May 1913-May 1915
Vol. 6, June 1915-February 1917
Box 2.
Vol. 7, April 1917-November 1927
Vol. 8, February 1928-May 1, 1945
Vol. 9, June 1945-March 1965
Vol. 10, April 1965-March 1970
Folder 1. Laid in documents from Vol. 1
Folder 2. Laid in documents from Vol. 2
Folder 3. Laid in documents from Vol. 4
Folder 4. Laid in documents from Vol. 10

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 1/21/09