Montana State University

Historian becomes MSU's fifth Regents' Professor

December 2, 2008 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

Brett Walker is the fifth MSU faculty member to be named a Regents' Professor. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham).   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- Brett Walker, a world-renowned expert in Japanese environmental history, is Montana State University's newest Regents' Professor.

The Montana Board of Regents awarded Walker the lifetime honorary title at its November meeting in Missoula. Walker, head of the Department of History and Philosophy, was recognized for his outstanding service to MSU and his unique contribution to the field of history.

Previously named Regents' Professors at MSU were Jack Horner, paleontology; Gordon Brittan, philosophy; John Carlsten, physics; and Paul Grieco, chemistry and biochemistry.

"I'm incredibly flattered by this," Walker said as he accepted the award. "I'm very much humbled by this."

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs David Dooley told the Regents that Walker had the opportunity to leave MSU many times, but he repeatedly chose to stay.

"I love teaching here," Walker said. "I love the students here. I simply love the people at Montana State."

Walker was born in Bozeman and spent much of his childhood on a family wheat and barley farm near Cascade. He was recommended for the Regents' award by MSU President Geoff Gamble and Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila M. Stearns. In their nomination, they wrote that MSU was fortunate to recruit Walker from Yale University in 1999. In his nine years at MSU, he has risen rapidly through the ranks to become a full professor and head of the department.

"He has gone from rising star to mature scholar in record time, making a name for himself and MSU in the fields of East Asian history, the history of science and Japanese environmental history," the officials wrote.

They added that Walker has been a prolific scholar, including the translations of his first two books into Japanese. He has received MSU's Charles and Nora L. Wiley Award for Meritorious Research and the College of Letters and Science Meritorious Research Award. Since coming to MSU, Walker has given 38 national and international lectures. He has presented papers and served on panels at 17 conferences.

The nominators wrote that Walker has worked diligently to grow the graduate programs in his department, including the development of a new doctorate program in American history. He is an outstanding teacher and has been a leader in grant acquisition.

"Dr. Walker's achievements raise the level of excellence in our universities, inspire our students and faculty and encourage excellence in all of us," the officials wrote.

See a related article, "MSU researchers to compare Montana, Japanese copper mines," at

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or