Montana State University

Montanan who became ambassador to Russia to receive MSU honorary doctorate

November 23, 2015 -- From MSU News Service

Michael McFaul, the Montanan who served as the former U.S. ambassador to Russia and is recognized as one of the top experts on that country, will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Montana State University during the university’s fall commencement on Dec. 12.

High-Res Available

Subscribe to MSU Newsletters


Bobcat Bulletin is a weekly e-newsletter designed to bring the most recent and relevant news about Montana State University directly to friends and neighbors via email. Visit Bobcat Bulletin.

MSU Today e-mail brings you news and events on campus thrice weekly during the academic year. Visit the MSU Today calendar.

MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu

Michael McFaul, the Montanan who served as the former U.S. ambassador to Russia and is recognized as one of the top experts on that country, will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Montana State University during the university’s fall commencement, university officials announced today. 

MSU's fall commencement ceremonies are scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

“Montana State University is privileged to honor Dr. Michael McFaul with the highest commendation MSU confers,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Dr. McFaul has distinguished Montana’s reputation during his remarkable academic and diplomatic career, and he is extremely deserving of this recognition.”

McFaul, who was raised in Glasgow, Butte and Bozeman, served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation under President Barack Obama from 2012 until February 2014, serving during a critical point in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The son of Kip and Helen McFaul of Bozeman, Michael McFaul was born in Glasgow, Mont. His family moved to Butte, where his father was a band director and music teacher and musician. The McFaul family moved to Bozeman before McFaul’s junior year in high school, when he became involved in Bozeman High School’s award-winning speech and debate team, which initially sparked his interest in the topic of Russia. His debate partner at the school was Sen. Steve Daines, (R) Mont.

According to McFaul’s mother, Helen, who is retired from MSU after a long career in MSU Communications and MSU Alumni, the move to Bozeman and immersion in speech “changed (her son’s) life,” helping him earn a scholarship to Stanford University where he earned both his bachelor’s degree in international relations and Slavic languages and his master’s degree in East European studies. He received a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. In the years following, McFaul became a professor and one of the world’s leading scholars on post-communist Russia.

Prior to his appointment as ambassador, McFaul served for three years as special assistant to Obama and senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs for the National Security Council and was the architect of Obama's policy on Russia.

Following his service as ambassador to Russia, McFaul returned to Stanford University and resumed his position as a professor of political science. He also is director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He is also the Hoover Institution Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at Stanford. McFaul also works as an analyst for NBC News, and writes frequently about international affairs for several national publications.

McFaul has authored and edited or co-edited several books: Transitions to Democracy: A Comparative Perspective,” “Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can,” “Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World,” “Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine's Democratic Breakthrough,” “Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Postcommunist Political Reform,” “Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War,” “Popular Choice and Managed Democracy: The Russian Elections of 1999 and 2000,” “Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin,” “Russia's 1996 Presidential Election: The End of Bi-Polar Politics,” “Privatization, Conversion and Enterprise Reform in Russia,” “Post-Communist Politics: Democratic Prospects in Russia and Eastern Europe,” and “The Troubled Birth of Russian Democracy: Political Parties, Programs and Profiles.”

His articles have appeared in Constitutional Political Economy, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Organization, International Security, Journal of Democracy, Political Science Quarterly, Post-Soviet Affairs and World Politics. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Politico, Time and the Weekly Standard.

For more information about MSU's fall commencement, visit http://www.montana.edu/commencement/.

Maggie Hammett (406) 994-2343 or maggie.hammett@montana.edu