Montana State University

Cathy Conover, MSU vp for communications and public affairs, announces retirement

October 14, 2010

Cathy Conover, who has been the face of MSU to many people over the last 13 years, will retire at the end of the year after nearly 30 years at the university. MSU photo    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
Cathy Conover, the Montana State University vice president of communications and public affairs who has served as the university's chief spokesman and lobbyist for 13 years, has announced her retirement at the end of the year.

"This is a great time for me to retire," Conover said. "I have been able to work through the exciting first year of Waded Cruzado's presidency and I am now looking forward to refocusing on a variety of activities I enjoy with my family. I'm ready for the next chapter."

In announcing Conover's retirement, MSU President Waded Cruzado said that Conover has been an extraordinary public servant who has served the university and the people of Montana well for nearly 30 years.

"For many Montanans, particularly those involved in the legislature, Cathy Conover was the face of Montana State University," Cruzado said. "The areas of higher education, higher education funding, agriculture, public television, funding for student scholarship and more are all better for her dedicated and tireless work."

Cruzado also complimented Conover's professionalism, composure and accessibility as the university's long time spokesman.

A native of the Denver, Colo. area, Conover first joined MSU as a personnel officer and specialist in Human Resources in 1981 when she and her family moved to Bozeman from New York City seeking a lifestyle change that would take them back to the Rocky Mountain West. Drawing upon her skills, experience and training as the former Director of Corporate Manufacturing in the U.S. for Avon Products, Conover first handled labor relations for MSU. She also taught courses as an adjunct instructor in both the MSU College of Engineering and the MSU College of Business.

In 1987, Conover was named director of MSU Employee Relations and Services, where she represented MSU in labor negotiations with 14 staff and faculty unions. After 10 years in that position, Conover was appointed the director of MSU's University Relations in 1997 by the late MSU President Michael Malone. In the ensuing six Legislative sessions, she represented MSU and higher education at the legislature.

Conover also directed the expansion of the MSU communications arm during the electronic communication revolution, overseeing the rapid growth of the division. In 2004, former MSU President Geoff Gamble upgraded Conover's role when he named her director of MSU Communications and Public Affairs. She oversaw and supervised the development and implementation of MSU's new integrated marketing plan and published the university's new flagship magazine, Mountains and Minds. She also expanded her division to meet contemporary needs by adding to her division's responsibilities the areas of government relations, trademarks and licensing, MSU Web communications and public relations. They joined the existing divisions of MSU News Service, MSU Publications and Graphics and University Printing.

Conover also served as associate commissioner for the Montana University System in 2007, coordinating the lobbying efforts for the entire Montana University System, while maintaining her MSU position.

In 2008, KUSM, Montana Public Television was added to Conover's MSU responsibilities. That year Gamble promoted Conover to vice president for MSU communications and public affairs. She was the university's first permanent female vice president.

A graduate of Cornell University with a bachelor's degree in political science and Russian studies, Conover has a master's degree in higher education administration from MSU.

"I have been extremely fortunate to work with so many exceptional people throughout my career with MSU," Conover said. "That has been the greatest reward for me and I am indebted to those who mentored me and supported me, especially President Geoff Gamble and Commissioner Sheila Stearns. I could not have a more talented and dedicated team than the staff in Communications and KUSM, and thank them for the outstanding work they do for the university."

An avid horsewoman and golfer, Conover is married to Richard Conover. They have two grown sons.

Cathy Conover (406) 994-4571,