Former Speakers & Programs
After more than 20 years of leadership development programing, the MSU Leadership Institute has a long history of bringing inspirational speakers, films, and trainings to the MSU community. Our programs are so much more than mere lectures or trainings. We aim to make each one different and engaging in new and exciting ways. At our programs, participants will find new perspectives and insight into what it is to be a leader.
MSU Leadership Summit: Charge your Passion, Empower your Ideas.
An empowering and re-energizing weekend filled with challenging outdoor activities including a zip line and a ropes course, inspiration and workshops from two amazing speakers, and opportunities to network and befriend fellow MSU students and members of our community - all while participants had the opportunity to build useful leadership skills!
Dr. Paul Farmer
On January 31, the MSU Leadership Institute hosted global health expert Dr. Paul Farmer. As a world-renowned academic and anthropologist, Farmer’s research into cultural development and medical care has contributed dramatically to understanding the intricate challenges of meeting various needs of people all over the world.
Annual Film Series: “Bending the Arc” (2017)
“Bending the Arc” (2017) is a powerful film that portrays the importance of service-driven leadership, especially in the world of global health care. The documentary is about a team of young students—Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim and Ophelia Dahl—whose charitable medical work 30 years ago ignited a global health movement.
Leadership Summit: Sustain Today. Save Tomorrow
The 2018 annual Leadership Summit was an opportunity for MSU students to bridge academic disciplines and engage with individuals who share a passion for sustainability and leadership. Conrad Anker, leader of the North Face Climbing Team, rock climber, mountaineer, and author will be the keynote speaker. The focus of the summit was for attendees to leave with strong, forward thinking projects that they could put into action in the Bozeman community.
Annual Film Series: “Life Animated” (2016)
"Life, Animated" (2016) is an emotional coming-of-age story that follows Owen Suskind, a young autistic man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. The inspirational film follows Owen as he moves into to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence.
Annual Film Series: “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016)
Directed by Mel Gibson, the film is based on the 2004 documentary, “The Conscientious Objector.” It focuses on the true story of World War II combat medic, Desmond Doss. Doss became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot after saving 75 men in Okinawa, during one of the bloodiest battles of WWII.
Annual Film Series: “Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story” (2017)
This film chronicles the journey of Eduardo Garcia, a chef to celebrities and outdoorsman whose life nearly ended in 2011 when he was shocked by 2,400 volts of electricity after touching the carcass of a dead bear with the tip of his knife while hiking in the backcountry of Paradise Valley. Garcia lost his hand, ribs and muscle mass and was airlifted to a burn center in Utah. Through sheer resilience, and with the help of his former partner, Jennifer Jane, Garcia gained back his health only to learn that he had another battle, this one with cancer. The film recounts Garcia’s learning to embrace his past, his family and his future.
Improv Night: An evening of energy and excitement, where humor spurs new personal insights!
Finding Balance: Maintaining Momentum in a Busy World
Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin: An Evening with Mountaineer Legends
Gender Equality and YOU: A Conference to Create, Foster and Catalyze
Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson, the British expert on creativity and innovation who is the most-watched speaker in the TED Talk video series throughout the world, spoke at Montana State University on February 8, 2017. Throughout his work, Robinson pushes people to rethink outdated assumptions about intelligence, education and creativity, and to unleash the real potential of people and organizations.
Your Vote, Your Voice, Your Future: The Power of the Voter in 2016
Leadership Summit: Mission Impossible
Lead Courageously: What does it require of you?
Neil deGrasse Tyson
A Dialogue with “Americans Who Tell the Truth” Artist: MLK Master Class
In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, MSU welcomed peace advocate and artist Robert Shetterly. Shetterly is best known for his exhibit, Americans Who Tell the Truth, a series of portraits honoring the words and work of courageous Americans throughout history. He was inspired by the courageous spirit of American heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Henry David Thoreau, Mother Jones, and many notable others.
Leadership Summit: Renew You
The Spring 2015 Leadership Summit was a unique experience that provided students with an opportunity to get away from the stress of everyday life and rediscover your passion and inspiration. Participants were challenged to take an introspective look into their personal leadership style and gained a deeper understanding of self and their driving motivations.
Dr. Michael McFaul
President of PBS: Paula Kerger
Paula Kerger is President and CEO of PBS, the nation’s largest non-commercial media organization with more than 350 member stations throughout the country. Often considered one of television’s most powerful women, Kerger has ushered in over 60 Emmys to the station since taking over in 2006. She visited MSU on the 18th of October and gave a rousing speech to the MSU community.
Leadership Summit: Outdoor Leading, Upward Thinking
The 2014 Leadership Summit provided time for leadership vision activities so that students could think deeply about how their personal vision may also support the greater good. Students will gain an understanding about how to work with diverse teams to solve complex challenges and to be more thoughtful and more durable leaders by learning how to tap into their own excellence as well as the excellence of others.
William Oppenheim, Founder and Director of Omprakash, spoke about his experiences as a scholar, humanitarian, and philanthropist. His lecture explores the critical perspectives on international volunteering and the complex dynamics that underlie any effort to “do good” and “help others.”
Yann Martel, author of award winning novel of “Life of Pi”, spoke at the 2013 MSU Convocation. Martel is the author of 6 works of fiction, and the recipient of numerous awards including the Man Booker Prize, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, The MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Journey Prize. His most famous work, “Life of Pi”, has sold over 7 million copies in 46 countries, with continued success when it was adapted to film in 2011 by director Ang Lee, garnering 11 Academy Award Nominations.
Charles Best was an elementary educator who, after teaching in the inner city Bronx for five years, decided that current models of philanthropy in education were simply not getting the job done. His passion to decrease national disparity in classroom tools and funding led him to create his own grassroots company, DonorsChoose, which in 2013 was one of Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative New Companies.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice
On September 5, former US Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice addressed an audience of 8000 at Freshman Convocation. Rice served as the 66th U.S. Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009. Dr. Rice is the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, based at Stanford and a professor of political science. Her second memoir, "No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington," talks about her years as Secretary of State.
General Wesley K. Clark
On March 5th, retired general Wesley K. Clark gave an inspirational speech to a packed audience. He spoke at length on economics and foreign policy that will have adverse effects on our Nation. Clark also shared with MSU his vision for the future of America and what he believes we must do to maintain a strategic position on the world stage well into the 21st century.
On April 17th journalist, international journalist and producer Edward Girardet gave a multimedia presentation and lecture on conflict zones in the Middle East and why they are so often misunderstood. Girardet has reported from numerous humanitarian and conflict zones in Africa, Asia and elsewhere since the late 1970s. As a foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, US News and World Report, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour based in Paris, he first began covering Afghanistan several months prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979.
MSU played host to a free public presentation on field research and exploration featuring National Geographic Society Vice President of Research, Conservation and Exploration John Francis; Wildlife Conservation Society conservationist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay; and renowned alpinist and The North Face athlete Conrad Anker. This event was part of a stop of on National Geographic’s Young Explorer Grant Writing Workshop tour.
Dr. Maya Angelou
Dr. Maya Angelou gave an inspirational lecture to a packed audience in the MSU Fieldhouse. President Waded Cruzado awarded Dr. Angelou with the Presidential Medal for Freedom. Her speech revolved around issues of human rights, poetry, the power of believing in one's self, and the ability all of us have to affect positive social change.
In 2003, Ralston was descending a remote Utah canyon alone when a half-ton boulder broke loose, crushing his right hand and pinning him against the canyon wall. Ralston barely escaped by severing his arm below the elbow, rappelling a 65-foot cliff out of the canyon, and trekking seven miles to find his would-be rescuers.
Author and journalist, Tom Brokaw has been the face of national and international news for the past 20 years. Anchor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004, Brokaw interviewed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Mikhail Gorbachev, including every U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson. In addition, Brokaw was NBC’s White House correspondent during the Watergate scandal and reported from the Berlin Wall during its fall. Brokaw is a native of South Dakota and frequents Livingston, Montana.
Kevin Michael Connolly
Kevin Michael Connolly has been an object of curiosity since the day he was born without legs. He was a 2008 MSU Media and Theatre Arts graduate and in an attempt to capture the stares of others, Connolly traveled to 17 countries on his skateboard and took over 30,000 photographs of people gaping at him. Connolly gave an inspirational and humorous welcome to MSU freshman about his strikingly candid memoir, Double Take.
Geoff Bellman worked inside major corporations for 14 years before starting his own consulting firm in 1977. His external consulting has focused on renewing large, mature corporations such as Boeing, Booz Allen & Hamilton, U.S. Bancorp, and Verizon. Guests of the lecture explored their own group experiences to identify personal needs and passions and, in turn, transform an ordinary team into an extraordinary group.
Orr is the "Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics" at Oberlin College and "James Marsh Professor at Large" for the University of Vermont. He is best known for his pioneering campaign to promote environmental literacy in higher education and his recent work in ecological design. On his home campus at Oberlin College, Professor Orr led the effort to design and build the first substantially green college building in the United States.
Tobacco Free- What is Best for Montana State University
"Tobacco Free – What is Best for Montana State University?" answered timely questions such as: “Will a tobacco ban hurt MSU's enrollment?” “Doesn't a tobacco ban restrict my rights?” “MSU currently has a smoking policy, why institute an additional policy?” The discussion explored both sides of this important issue at Montana State University, which could potentially affect students, staff, faculty, and even community members. Also investigated throughout the discussion were issues surrounding the purpose of a tobacco-free policy, enforcement of the policy, financial impacts, health benefits, and the current policy in place at Montana State University.
Steve Lopez, award-winning Los Angeles Times columnist and author of "The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and The Redemptive Power of Music," welcomed back students at the start of the fall semester, with the 2009 MSU Convocation. Lopez discussed the topic of his book; Nathaniel Ayers, a talented violinist and homeless man who suffers from schizophrenia.
Dr. Sharon Parks
Dr. Sharon Daloz Parks greeted an audience with a large representation of MSU student groups during her talk “Calling Forth a New Kind of Leadership”. Parks challenged the traditional thought that leadership skills are an innate gift, with which only some individuals are blessed.
More than just a two time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, and author of the recently published book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women World Wide”, humanitarian Nicholas Kristof presented a moving presentation about the treatment of women in developing countries.
Annual Film Series: “The Endless Knot” (2007)
World renowned alpinist Conrad Anker and author Jennifer Lowe-Anker discussed their life story, as well as introduced adventure filmmaker Michael Brown at the Bozeman premier of his award-winning documentary, “The Endless Knot”. Brown's 57-minute film “The Endless Knot” chronicles the friendship of two men, the love of family, overcoming survivor's guilt and helping others to avoid a similar fate.
Dr. Jane Goodall
In Spring 2008, Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist, environmentalist and humanitarian, addressed current work at the Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania, where research into our closest relative-the chimpanzee-has been ongoing since 1960. As a United Nations Messenger of Peace, Dr. Goodall addressed her reasons for hope in these complex times and ways in which every individual can make a difference every day.
Leadership Summit: How will YOU make the world better?
This year’s Leadership Summit set out to jump-start citizen activism and advocacy by providing leaders the tools, training, and connections necessary to act on their passions, champion causes, generate solutions, and see real change in the world.
Internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist Tim Flannery spoke to an audience of over 900 students and community members. He presented a straightforward and powerful explanation of the connection between climate change and human activity. He spoke to his listeners, both personally and politically, about the recognition that we are all "weather makers" and that the only logical and ethical choice is to begin to address the problem before it's too late.
Leadership Improv Workshop
This improv workshop revolved around games and techniques which focus on jump-starting imagination and bringing out important soft skills needed for communication, interviewing, public speaking and more. Offering expert instruction, Kent Davis balanced technical excellence and fun in this exciting program.
Real life hero of the film “Hotel Rwanda” (2004) Paul Rusesabagina spoke to the MSU community. When Rwanda descended into madness, this one man made a promise to protect the family he loved -and ended up saving over 1200 people as a hotel manager in Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days, nearly one million people were killed in Rwanda. Rusesabagina spoke about his personal experience, his ongoing support of Rwanda, the genocide in Darfur and current issues in international humanitarian aid.
Dr. Ken Kamler
In his multimedia presentation, Dr. Ken Kamler discussed what happens when human bodies are pushed to their limits. By exploring the human body's reactions to heat, cold, pressure, starvation, exhaustion and exposure, he revealed the body's miraculous survival strategies. His lecture took the audience on a scientific nail-biter that goes beyond "reality" TV and proves what survival really entails.