Montana State University

MSU's Mountains and Minds magazine medals at national competition

June 16, 2014 -- MSU News Service

MSU's magazine, "Mountains and Minds," won a silver award at the recent CASE Circle of Excellence competition, ranking it as one of the best college and university magazines in the country. The international Circle of Excellence awards program recognizes outstanding work in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing as judged by peer professionals at schools, colleges and universities as well as by professionals from outside education. Earlier this year, MSU’s Mountains and Minds won the 2014 Virginia Carter Smith Grand Crystal Award as the top entry in its CASE district, which includes the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. "Mountains and Minds" is produced in-house by MSU's University Communications. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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Montana State University's magazine, "Mountains and Minds" won a silver award at the 2014 Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s 2014 national Circle of Excellence awards program.

“Mountains and Minds,” which is produced nearly entirely in-house by MSU University Communications staff members, won the runner-up prize for the best general interest magazine with a circulation of less than 29,999. A panel of experts judged the category, composed of 53 national and international entries. Kenyon (Ohio) College’s Kenyon magazine bested the category, and it also received the Robert Sibley award as the best magazine of the year among all circulation categories.

Tracy Ellig, MSU’s executive director of communications and publisher of the magazine, said that the university was honored to be recognized in the very competitive magazine category.

"MSU is humbled and honored to be among the prestigious colleges and universities honored in this contest," Ellig said.

It is the second year that an MSU entry was honored in the national CASE competition. Last year, MSU Extended University's Everest Education Expedition, which 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 in the CASE national competition's public relations and community relations project category. Also a year ago, an innovative training and professional development program for employees of the MSU Alumni Foundation received silver in the advancement overall operations category.

"Virtually every person on our University Communications staff has a vital role in producing Mountains and Minds, and this is a wonderful validation of the talents possessed by the members of our team," Ellig said of this year’s award for the university magazine.

This is the second top award won by the MSU magazine in 2014. Earlier this year, Mountains and Minds won the 2014 Virginia Carter Smith Grand Crystal Award as the top entry in its CASE region. The magazine qualified for consideration for the sweepstakes award by winning a Grand Gold award as the top magazine of the year from submissions from colleges and universities in five U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces. The magazine also won a gold award in the circulation category of fewer than 29,999, the smallest circulation category.

In addition to Ellig, also named on the award were MSU staff members Carol Schmidt who is managing editor, lead designer Bridget Ashcraft and photographer Kelly Gorham.

“The talents of these three are what makes the magazine shine,” Ellig said. “For each of them, producing the magazine isn’t just a job, it’s a mission to bring the best light on the worthy accomplishments of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. They are very proud to be part of MSU and it shows in their dedication to the magazine.”

Both issues of the magazine produced in 2013 were entered, including the fall issue with a cover photograph by Gorham of MSU student Saul Martinez, a veteran from the Iraq war who is completing his education at MSU. Also submitted was the spring issue featuring an illustration done by Ashcraft of Albert Einstein in connection with MSU's Celebrating Einstein program. Online versions of the magazine can be found online at:

To learn more about the award, and CASE, go to


Tracy Ellig (406) 994-5607,

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