Montana State University

Filmmaker, writer John Heminway to receive MSU honorary doctorate

November 21, 2016 -- MSU News Service

John Heminway, an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker who makes his home in Bozeman, will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Montana State University during the university’s fall commencement on Dec. 17. Photo courtesy of John Heminway.

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

John Heminway, a Montana-based award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker, 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 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

“In the last decade, John Heminway has made significant and positive contributions to both our university and our state,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “John has distinguished Montana’s reputation during his remarkable career as an award-winning filmmaker and writer that has drawn attention to nature, science, history and threats to the continent of Africa and the resulting impact on us all, and he is extremely deserving of this award, the highest recognition that MSU can bestow.”

Heminway’s career as a “filmmaker’s filmmaker” includes more than 100 films spanning four decades. His documentaries about science, the environment and Africa, in particular, have earned him two Emmys, two Peabody Awards and a duPont-Columbia University journalism award. His 2013 broadcast of “Battle for the Elephants,” produced with Katie Carpenter and J.J. Kelley, was voted the best conservation film at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. The sequel to the film, “Warlords of Ivory,” in which Heminway exposed how the illicit ivory trade funds militias and terrorist groups by placing GPS trackers into fake ivory tusks, re-launched National Geographic Channel’s Explorer Series and was nominated for an Emmy as well as honored in a special ceremony at the United Nations.

In addition to his filmmaking work, he has written books about both Africa and Montana including “Yonder: A Place in Montana,” a memoir about living in the West Boulder Valley.

Heminway has served on the boards or advisory councils of many environmental causes, including the African Wildlife Foundation, where he was board chairman for nine years, Trout Unlimited, American Prairie Reserve, White Oak Conservation Center, Tusk, and Elephant Family. In 2013, famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey appointed Heminway chairman of WildlifeDirect, an organization founded by Leakey and dedicated to changing laws and behavior related to wildlife crime in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.

A native of New York City, Heminway, his wife and daughter have lived in Bozeman for the past decade. Heminway has been an adjunct lecturer at the MSU School of Film and Photography, as well as a supporter of MSU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders and its work in Kenya, hosting screenings of his films as fundraisers for the group. He is a member of the MSU Honors College External Advisory Council and a supporter of Montana PBS. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Explorers’ Club and the Royal Geographic Society, among others.

For more information about MSU's fall commencement, visit

Maggie Hayes (406) 994-2343 or