Montana Public Radio

UM's Bitterroot College Will Become An Independent Community College

Mar 30, 2021

State lawmakers have passed a measure creating a Bitterroot Valley Community College District.

The joint resolution triggers a process to transition Hamilton’s Bitterroot College UM — currently an appendage of the University of Montana — into an independent, locally controlled community college.

Bitterroot Valley Community College trustee-elect Janet Woodburn is excited for the change.

"This is the first new community college in Montana in the last 50 years."

There is still plenty of work before the transition to a full-fledged community college is complete, including finding funding sources. While Ravalli County voters supported creation of the district last year, they rejected a mill levy to fund a new local community college.

Woodburn said that is understandable given the past year’s economic uncertainties.

“There are other ways that we can go forward with our college and we will pursue all of them, including a significant amount of grant money, some endowments that people have mentioned to us that we believe will come to fruition," she said.

The seven-member board of trustees will need to get seated before the work to create the Bitterroot Valley Community College can begin.