Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date

Summer 7-12-2017


university, community, town, gown, town-gown, partnership, Missoula, Montana, University of Montana, Griz


This study serves as a qualitative, descriptive case study analyzing the social, economic, and political relationship between the University of Montana and its host municipality, the City of Missoula, often referred to as “The Zoo.” The University of Montana is home to “The Griz” student body; 12,000 of Missoula’s 70,000 residents. Being that the student population in Missoula is a significant portion of its total size, the impact that the university has on Missoula and its residents is quite noticeable, most often in a positive manner, but at times strenuous. This paper provides a brief overview of what are commonly referred to as “town-gown” relations from a historical perspective, beginning with the first established universities in Europe, through the Morrill Land Grant Acts and the post-World War II boom in student enrollment in the United States. In specific reference to The Griz and The Zoo, this research presents findings, using grounded theory, from surveys and interviews with Missoula residents, ranging from students, to alumni, as well as residents, and community leaders. The research identifies and evaluates the feedback from the research participants, and highlights positive interactions between the two entities, while also suggesting actions for improvement in less than ideal areas, as well as recommendations for future research in related areas.