Merriam oversaw the introduction of new classes, included in course catalogs beginning in 1920, including Shakespeare and story writing. He designed and taught many of these courses himself. In 1920, he created the magazine The Frontier and Midland to encourage students from all around the west to write. The journal was published until 1939.
Simultaneously, Merriam left UM to teach at at the University of Oregon. Merriam founded several writers' conferences from 1930 through 1960. He became the state supervisor of the Federal Writers Project in 1935. He also participated in the creation of the Montana Institute of the Arts, serving as editor and president from 1957 to 1964. On March 26th of 1980, Merriam passed away at the age of 96 in Missoula, Montana.
Although the College of Humanities and Sciences remains under financial stress today, the Creative Writing Program offers more than 30 courses in Creative Writing, as well as requiring literature courses. Missoula, Montana has been home to numerous published authors, including Richard Hugo, Kim Barnes, Michael FitzGerald, and James Welch, among others. Today, undergraduates publish and edit The Oval, and graduate students manage Cutbank, both literary journals housed at UM.