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An act of Congress, approved February 18, 1881, dedicated for university purposes in Montana seventy-two sections of the public domain. The Enabling Act, providing for the organization of the State of Montana and its admission to the Union, February 22, 1889, confirmed this grant to the State and added 100,000 acres for a school of mines, 100,000 acres for normal schools and 140,000 acres for an agricultural college.
The Third Legislative Assembly of the State of Montana, in February, 1893, enacted laws providing for the establishment of all these institutions and locating the State University at Missoula (now the University of Montana), the State School of Mines at Butte (now Montana Tech of the University of Montana), the Western College of Education at Dillon (now the University of Montana - Western), and the State College at Bozeman (now Montana State University).
As the lands granted for higher educational purposes, together with the timber or stone thereon, have been sold, the proceeds have gone into permanent funds invested for the various institutions, and the interest on these funds, together with the rentals of unsold lands, has been used for the support of the respective institutions*. These maintenance resources have been supplemented with appropriations made each biennium by the Legislative Assembly, which also provided for the erection of academic buildings at the expense of the state.
These institutions were administered independently by the local executive boards for some years under general supervision of the State Board of Education. By a law of 1909, the powers of the local boards were more closely defined and the direction of the State Board of Education made more effective. By the enactment of Chapter 92 of the laws of the Thirteenth Legislative Assembly in 1913, the four institutions were combined into the University of Montana, which was changed in 1965 to the Montana University System. Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University-Billings) was made a fifth unit in 1927 and Northern Montana College (now Montana State University-Northern) was opened in 1929 becoming the sixth unit.
Subject to the Constitution and statutes, general control and supervision of all Montana University System units are vested in the seven-member Board of Regents. The Board of Regents has full power, responsibility, and authority to supervise, coordinate, manage and control the Montana University System, and supervises and coordinates other public educational institutions assigned by law. With the exception of the Student Regent, who serves a term of not less than one, nor more than four years, the Board consists of seven members appointed by the governor, and confirmed by the Senate to seven year overlapping terms. The Governor, and Superintendent of Public Instruction are ex-officio members of the Board.
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