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Dr. Morton J. Elrod - 'Had many firsts'

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Ceremony Today to Honor Dr. Elrod, MSU Ex-Professor

Missoula, Mont., Feb. 16 – On February 17, 1893, Governor John Rickards signed the charter for a state university to be located in Missoula. On November 7, 1905, Professor Morton J. Elrod proposed that February 17 “be celebrated with ceremonies appropriate to the occasion.” The faculty adopted Professor Elrod’s resolution and charter day was first formally observed by the University February 17, 1906.

In ceremonies tomorrow marking the 63rd anniversary of its founding, the university will honor the initiator of charter day by renaming South hall, men’s dormitory, for Professor Elrod.

Two other halls also will be dedicated in honor of persons who were long associated with the university.

North hall, women’s dormitory, will be called Brantley hall for Mrs. Theodore Brantley, who was social director at the hall from 1926 to 1939.

New hall women’s dormitory will be called Turner hall for Mrs. Belle Turner, social director at several MSU dorms.

Had Many Firsts

Professor Elrod came to the university in February 1897, to organize a department of biology. During his long association with the university, he was responsible for many “firsts.” He was the first to conduct field trips, and he and his students collected and photographed specimens in the Flathead valley. These specimens, together with hundreds he had brought to the university with him, formed the nucleus of the university museum.

In 1899, Dr. Elrod established the biological station near Bigfork on Flathead lake. Field work done there under his direction attracted nationwide attention. A few years later, he had introduced in congress a bill donating 160 acres of land at the site of the present biological station at Yellow bay, and he supervised the building of the new station in 1912.

Pushed Glacier Park

As a director of the American Bison society, he was appointed in 1907 to locate a suitable preserve for buffalo, and he laid out the bison preserve which the government established near Moiese.

He was one of the first advocates of the establishment of Glacier national park and was chief naturalist of the park for eight years during the 1920s.

Dr. Elrod’s work in his field won national recognition. He was the author of 10 books on scientific subjects and of numerous articles in magazines and professional journals. He was a member of more than a dozen honorary and professional societies and served many of them as an officer.

Despite heavy professional demands on his time, Dr. Elrod took an active part in community affairs. He was a charter member and past president of the Missoula Rotary club and a member of the Chamber of Commerce.

Contributed Much

His contributions to campus life and tradition were many and lasting. He started the “Sentinel,” the university’s yearbook, and was its adviser for 20 years. He also helped found the “Kaimin,” which began as a magazine and evolved into the present student daily newspaper. With Dean A. L. Stone he established the Memorial way on the north side of the campus where pine trees and markers memorialize MSU students who lost their lives in World war 1. He was chairman of the first Montana interscholastic meet at the university in 1904.

Dr. Elrod’s daughter, Mrs. Mary Elrod Ferguson, is the assistant director of the museum and Northwest historical collection at MSU.

Dr. Elrod died in 1953 at the age of 89, and passed into the university tradition to which he had given so much, served so long, and loved so well.

The above article is taken from The Spokesman-Review of Feb. 17, 1956.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 May 2016 19:57