Two Montana State University entries won top awards at the Council for the Advancement of Support of Education's national Circle of Excellence competition recognizing the best college and university advancement programs worldwide.
An outreach program that allowed students from Montana's rural communities to follow the riveting adventures of a group of world-class climbers as they climbed Mount Everest in 2012 won a gold award, or first place in the CASE national competition's public relations and community relations project category.
An innovative training and professional development program for employees of the MSU Alumni Foundation received silver, or second place, in the advancement services overall operations category. It is believed that this is the first time an MSU entry has received a gold award in the prestigious contest.
MSU Extended University's Suzi Taylor, who submitted the winning entry, said she believed university-wide collaboration of the Everest Education Expedition project made the entry stand out.
EU worked with Conrad Anker, a local world-class climber, as well as MSU geology professor David Lageson, graduate student Travis Corthouts, and other climbers and personnel in the team to help more than a thousand students in Montana to follow the daily challenges and triumphs of the Everest team. An additional 1,200 fans on Facebook also virtually followed the assault on Everest.
"The focus of the outreach was the science of Everest, particularly glaciology, geology, weather, climate change, and high-altitude physiology," Taylor said. "Using the intrinsic appeal of Everest, Extended University sought to showcase the university's research strengths and engage students and teachers in STEM content while connecting on a personal level with MSU faculty and students."
The MSU Alumni Foundation's new training and professional development system was developed by Valerie Hubers, the MSUAF's director of human resources. It is modeled on a program she had experienced in private industry. It allows practical and engaging methods for employees to share training they have received with others in the organization.
CASE is an organization made up of universities, colleges and secondary schools throughout the world. The organization said more than 2,000 entries were received in 45 categories of national competition in this year's Circle of Excellence Competition.
Suzi Taylor (406) 994-7957, firstname.lastname@example.org and Racheal Nellis, (406) 994-5722, email@example.com