The Geoff Gamble Leadership Award will be given to an MSU student annually, beginning in the spring of 2010.
Gamble and his wife, Patricia, have been "deeply committed," to helping students succeed, Gamble said after the presentation. "This is a very special honor."
"President Gamble has had a tremendous impact on student leadership development at MSU, and this scholarship recognizes that," said Carmen McSpadden, director of the MSU Leadership Institute. "He is such a student-centered leader."
Students involved with the MSU Leadership Institute originally came up with the idea for a scholarship to be awarded in Gamble's name. They then quickly involved student senators from the Associated Students of Montana State University - or ASMSU - with the efforts. Money for the award will come from student fees disbursed through ASMSU.
"The really amazing thing about this is that it is a student-generated, student-funded award," McSpadden said. "As far as we know, no other MSU president has ever been recognized in this way."
ASMSU President Teresa Snyder said students across campus appreciate Gamble's support and inclusive leadership style.
Specifically, she pointed to the model of shared governance Gamble has embraced for the university, which she said gives students a voice on important things like the university's budget. Similarly, his open-door policy is "a great illustration of how he's ready to listen to students," Snyder said.
"Dr. Gamble encompasses the ideals he stands for and empowers students," Snyder said. "You never see him walking through Centennial Mall without stopping students to ask them how they're doing."
McSpadden added that Gamble has supported the MSU Leadership Institute "100 percent of the time." That support includes everything from his personal attendance at events, to meeting with students, to helping fund, through his office, speakers and other functions.
"It's just incredible," McSpadden said. "I don't think he ever says no to helping students."
Students from the Leadership Institute and ASMSU first started discussions about the award about a month ago, McSpadden said. That was well before Gamble and his wife, Patricia, announced their plans to leave their estate to MSU and create the Geoff and Patricia Gamble Center for Student Success, a program that will provide resources to help students stay, and succeed, in school and for faculty to sharpen their teaching skills.
The amount of the scholarship is yet to be determined, as are the criteria to be used for selecting recipients each year. The students would like Gamble to have a say in what criteria will be used to select recipients, McSpadden added.
"I think part of President Gamble's legacy is he is willing to step up to do whatever it takes to support student success, and that includes student leadership," McSpadden said.
Cathy Conover, MSU's vice president for communication and public affairs, noted that supporting student success has not only been on Gamble's personal agenda as MSU's 11th president, but he has also encouraged others across campus to embrace the same priority.
"He has threaded this theme of student success through every talk he gives," Conover said. "As a result, there is a very clear demonstration all over the campus of people who have adopted it, understand it, embrace it and prioritize it, too."
Snyder predicts the award will also be a way of continuing Gamble's influence at MSU.
"This is a great opportunity for students down the road, long after Gamble is no longer president, to remember the incredible impact he has had on this campus."
Carmen McSpadden, (406) 994-7667 or firstname.lastname@example.org