Dr. Waded Cruzado officially took office as Montana State University's 12th president on Jan. 4, 2010, and in less than three years has significantly reshaped the face and future of the Treasure State's first land-grant institution.
Not a year into her administration, President Cruzado launched an ambitious campaign to raise $10 million for a 7,200-seat renovation of the south end zone of Bobcat Stadium. The funds were raised in a record amount of time and the renovation completed for the 2011 football season. The project also included upgrades to the MSU Track and Field Complex. The end zone project greatly enhances the game-day experience of all MSU students in attendance, while improving the practice and competition environment for track and field student-athletes. Importantly for President Cruzado, the expansion serves to strengthen a sense of community between MSU's students, faculty and staff with its alumni, fans and friends.
Also in her first year, President Cruzado welcomed a $3 million gift to MSU from Jake Jabs, president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse in Denver. Jabs, a 1952 graduate, generously funded the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West in MSU's College of Business. Jabs followed his initial gift a year later with a second -- $25 million to MSU's College of Business. It is the largest gift in the history of the Montana University System and will be used to construct a building for the college as well as fund scholarships and programs.
President Cruzado inaugurated an era of greater campus communication with her weekly Monday Morning Memo to every student, faculty and staff member on MSU's four campuses across the state. She also initiated the Pure Gold program, a weekly recognition of student and employee excellence. She has overseen a massive strategic planning effort for MSU's flagship campus in Bozeman, which has seen record enrollments during her first two years in office.
President Cruzado has made improvements to student facilities a priority. In 2011, she led the university to secure $15 million in bonding authority for upgrading student residence halls. During the summer of 2011, more than $3 million was spent on the Langford and Hapner residence hall rooms to make them more modern and appealing to students, and Miller Dining Hall – the largest on campus – had a $400,000 seating upgrade. President Cruzado made sure students were involved in all phases of the design process. Funds dedicated for current projects include $1.5 million to modernize classrooms, $1.5 million to improve accessibility and $9 million in energy conservation projects, which will upgrade all residence halls and other auxiliary facilities. In 2012, there will be a $6 million renovation of public spaces in Langford and Hapner residence halls during the summer, a $300,000 seating upgrade in Harrison Dining Hall. In addition, ground will be broken for a $7 million third Hedges Suite building, which will increase housing capacity beginning in the fall of 2013.
President Cruzado has consistently reaffirmed the importance of a campus environment that places student success as the top priority. To that end, she has made student retention a major priority of the university by funding numerous programs and appointing an executive officer to oversee related initiatives in increasing students' financial literacy, helping more students graduate in four years and providing more student support services such as tutoring, mentoring and advising.
In April 2011, President Cruzado unveiled the MSU Presidential Award for Emerging Scholars, made possible by a generous, $1 million gift from MSU alumnus David Kem and his wife, Judith Raines. The award is designed to recognize students who exhibit great potential, rather than prior academic performance and helps fulfill one of President Cruzado's goals of making college more accessible.
President Cruzado has also provided new pathways to higher education with the establishment of the Gallatin College Programs and its range of two-year degrees and one-year certificates. She has enhanced MSU's responsiveness to students' needs and aspirations with the creation of the Veterans Center and the Family Care Room.
An articulate and inspirational speaker on the role of the public university, President Cruzado has become well-known for her understanding of the Morrill Act, which created the land-grant university system 150 years ago. She is a passionate champion of the land-grant's tripartite mission of education, research and public outreach, and the important role higher education plays in the development of individuals and the prosperity of the nation.
Under President Cruzado's leadership, MSU was named the winner of the prestigious C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in the fall of 2011. Montana State was recognized for the contributions its students have made in bringing clean water to a region in Kenya through the work of the MSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Given just once a year, the Magrath award recognizes a four-year public university that embraces outreach and community engagement and comes with a $20,000 prize. MSU competed for the award against three other finalist schools that have significantly larger enrollments than MSU: Michigan State, Penn State and the University of Tennessee.
Also in 2011, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awarded MSU its community engagement classification in recognition of the university's commitment to teaching that encourages volunteer service and the spreading of knowledge that benefits the public. MSU is among only 311 universities out of more than 4,400 nationally to receive such recognition.
This was the second Carnegie classification for the university. Since 2006, MSU has been included in Carnegie's "very high research activity" classification, an achievement that goes to less than 3 percent of the nation's colleges and universities.
During President Cruzado's tenure, MSU has competitively won more than $215 million for research. In 2011-12, MSU set an institutional record of $112.3 million in research expenditures. Some of the most recent projects include the renovation of Cooley Lab thanks to a $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and a $67 million grant from the Department of Energy for the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration partnership, which is housed at MSU. In 2011, the Montana University System was awarded a $20 million National Science Foundation grant to create the Institute on Ecosystems, a collaborative effort between MSU and the University of Montana to pursue research and public outreach in the environmental sciences.
President Cruzado has enhanced MSU's alumni and community relations. Perhaps her most visible community project has been the CatWalk in Bozeman: a celebration of the relationship between MSU and the community during which the president and the MSU Spirit of the West Marching Band visit local businesses.
Prior to coming to MSU, President Cruzado served as executive vice president and provost at New Mexico State University, the nation's only land-grant university that is also a research-extensive and Hispanic-serving institution, a post she held since Sept 1, 2007. NMSU is a comprehensive research, liberal arts and sciences institution, home to a multicultural population of more than 31,000 students.
President Cruzado also served as interim president of NMSU from 2008-2009. Significant achievements during that time included implementing a Year of Sustainability at NMSU in 2009, record student enrollment, a substantial increase in funding for research, gains in the university's comprehensive campaign despite a troubled economy, full-term reaccreditation of the university by the Higher Learning Commission for the first time in NMSU history, initiation of the "Amazing Aggies" program of recognizing excellence, launch of the "Monday Morning Memo" communication with faculty, staff and students, and success at the 2009 session of the New Mexico Legislature that included $5.5 million in additional funding for the NMSU Center for the Arts.
In March 2012, President Cruzado was honored as the 2011 Michael P. Malone Educator of the Year from the Montana Ambassadors for demonstrating outstanding accomplishment, excellence and leadership in the field of education.