Montana State University

Three to receive 2004 MSU honorary doctorate degrees

April 12, 2004 -- by MSU News Service

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Bozeman - A self-made businessman with rural Montana roots who has offered a hand to students from Montana's small towns, the designer of the state's grazing systems for wildlife and livestock and an expert in earthquake analysis, awareness and education will receive honorary doctorate degrees from Montana State University during the university's 108th commencement ceremonies set 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8 at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

Recipients of 2004 MSU-Bozeman honorary degrees are: Norm Asbjornson, Tulsa, Okla., president of AAON, Inc., an air conditioning manufacturer; Michael Frisina of Butte, range and habitat coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and Michael C. Stickney, director of the Earth Studies Office at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology in Butte.

"We are pleased to honor these remarkable individuals with the honorary doctorate, the highest commendation MSU confers," said Geoff Gamble, MSU president.

Norman Asbjornson. Born and raised in the town of Winifred, Asbjornson began his first entrepreneurial enterprise at the age of 10 as a garbage hauler for the majority of the residents of his small town. Asbjornson enrolled at MSU in 1953, but a year later his education was delayed by a tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Korea. He returned to MSU and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1960. He began his career with American Standard Industrial Division, a manufacturer of heating and air conditioning products. He spent several decades in the heating and air conditioning business and in 1988 he founded his own company, AAON, Inc. The company is now a leader in the manufacturing of cutting-edge heating and air conditioning products, employing 1,200 people in Oklahoma and Texas and with about $150 million in annual sales. Forbes magazine has listed AAON as one of the 100 fastest-growing companies in America. Asbjornson believes in giving back to his community. His $1 million MSU Asbjornson University Scholarship Permanent Endowment provides scholarships so students from small Montana towns can attend the university. He has built a community center in Winifred, established a scholarship for Winifred students and a distance-learning network in the town. He has also renovated the community's swimming pool and improved the public water system. He has planted scores of trees in Winifred and Tulsa and donated air conditioning systems for several Tulsa social service organizations.

Mike Frisina. An MSU graduate with both a bachelor's degree (1972) and a master's degree (1974), Frisina was biologist, and later range and habitat coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. In that role, Frisina has worked on many important Montana environmental, social and cultural issues. He has built successful public and private partnerships in the management of wildlife and their habitats. Frisina's accomplishments in Montana have led him to work with the management of natural resources throughout the world. His international resource management projects have been in China, Mongolia, Pakistan, Spain, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Patagonia and Argentina. These experiences contributed to his writing the definitive book on the wild sheep of the world. Frisina has maintained a close relationship with MSU throughout his career, serving as an unpaid adjunct instructor in the Department of Animal & Range Sciences as well as the Biology Department. Additionally, Frisina collaborated with the late August L. Hormay to establish the August L. Hormay Range Award at MSU and the August Hormay Range Scholarship for graduate studies at MSU. He helped with the donation of the Hormay Range Collection, consisting of thousands of publications and photos, to the MSU Libraries, where it is housed in Special Collections of Renne Library.

Michael C. Stickney. Stickney, who grew up in Missoula, has dedicated his career to earthquake seismology for the benefit and safety of the state and its citizens. As a senior research scientist and director of the Earthquake Studies Office with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Stickney has single-handedly established the Bureau's Montana Regional Seismograph Network as one of the leading regional networks in the country. In more than two decades of work in earthquake seismology, Stickney has distinguished himself as one of the best observational seismologists in the country. Stickney has coordinated earthquake monitoring activities across the Northern Rockies with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Seismograph Network Program, tribal leaders in the Flathead Valley, state agencies and university researchers. In addition, Stickney made it possible for MSU-Bozeman to participate in regional earthquake monitoring through his installation of a digital node on the MSU campus. Stickney maintains a variety of tools to educate Montanans about earthquake hazards and public safety while living in the fourth-most active seismic region in the country. While the scientific community cannot accurately predict earthquakes, the safety and well being of Montana's citizens has been enhanced through Stickney's work.

MSU annually confers doctorates on friends of the university to honor achievements and service to the state of Montana.

Contact: Gordon Brittan (406) 994-5208 or Shari McCoy 994-2341