Montana University System Wins 2024 Colleagues’ Choice Award for Student Success Initiative



BOULDER, Colo. –  The Montana University System has received the annual Colleagues’ Choice Award for its program focused on increasing college degree attainment and educational opportunity for the state’s underserved students.

Montana 10, named for its 10 evidence-based support strategies, is a comprehensive student success intervention program now running at eight campuses in the state. The program recognizes the unique challenges that low-income, American Indian, rural, and other underserved students in Montana have in staying enrolled and graduating, and offers participating students academic, social, and financial support. Visit to learn more.

“Programs like Montana 10 are a win for everyone. Investing in our students not only helps institutions retain them, but it also gives students who face additional barriers to higher education a better chance to succeed,” said Crystine Miller, director of student affairs and student engagement, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, Montana University System.

“Many MT10 students experience financial challenges or need extra academic support to be prepared for the rigors of college. For many rural students, coming to an institution where their dorm building might have more students than their entire hometown, supports to help them feel at home and understand that higher education has a place for them is critical. I am incredibly honored to accept this award on behalf of the program and my colleagues doing the work to grow Montana 10.”

Since its inception in 2020, Montana 10 has enrolled just over 800 Montanans, with successive student cohorts retained at rates that are 10% to 20% higher than comparable Pell-eligible peers.

The Western Academic Leadership Forum presented its Colleagues’ Choice Award at its annual meeting held earlier this month. Offered by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the Forum is a membership organization for provosts, academic vice presidents, chief executives, and chief academic officers in the region that fosters collaboration, resource-sharing, and leadership development. The award recognizes innovative achievements among four-year postsecondary institutions and systems in the West that advance student success.

“Montana 10 has been championed by our WICHE Commissioner, Clayton Christian, and the Montana Board of Regents as an innovative strategy to deliver on the promise of higher education for students and the state,” said Joseph Thiel, interim Deputy Commissioner for Academic, Research, and Student Affairs. “Montana 10 is also indebted to partner organizations like MDRC and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) that contributed to a 10-part scaling academy as part of their Tools for Postsecondary Schools’ initiative.”

The Montana University System has partnered with MDRC to conduct an evaluation of the program to measure the effect of these types of services and financial supports on student outcomes. The study will measure the effect of these types of services and financial support on student outcomes.

2024 Colleagues’ Choice Award runners-up include:


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The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) works collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all residents of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. Visit


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