Office of the President

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dear MSU Community,

Good morning! It's been a wonderful year for Montana State University. Today, let's celebrate some of the many accomplishments and achievements our students, faculty and staff have enjoyed throughout 2012.

In January, we opened the year with our new tradition of Spring Convocation in Bozeman, while MSU-Bozeman head football coach Rob Ash received one of the country's highest coaching honors when he was named the Liberty Mutual 2011 FCS Coach of the Year.

February brought the terrific news that Hilary Fabich of Livingston, an MSU-Bozeman graduate in chemical engineering, was one of 40 Americans who received a 2012 Gates Cambridge scholarship for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. Also in February, the MSU-Bozeman College of Nursing began celebrations in honor of its 75th anniversary.

In March, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, one of the nation's most highly decorated military officers, spoke at an event hosted by the MSU Leadership Institute. Also that month, the men's Yellowjackets basketball team at MSU-Billings won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship. And, MSU-Bozeman geology professor Dr. David Lageson, MSU-Bozeman graduate student Travis Corthouts, and Bozeman-based mountaineer Conrad Anker left Bozeman for an expedition to Mount Everest. As part of the "Everest Education Expedition," they conducted research and shared information on the experience with elementary classrooms across Montana.

David Halat, a chemistry and mathematics student at MSU-Bozeman, won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship in April. David is the 54th MSU student to win the nation's premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering. The MSU-Billings Student United Way organization was honored with three awards given by United Way Worldwide: Campus Organization of the Year; Student Leader of the Year, Liz Collins; and Campus Adviser of the Year, Alicia Meyer. On April 20, MSU-Northern celebrated the inauguration of Dr. James Limbaugh as the university's 11th chancellor.

During May commencement ceremonies in Bozeman, we recognized Jake Jabs, a Montana State alumnus and president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse in Denver, with an honorary degree.

In June and July, MSU-Bozeman and our Museum of the Rockies participated in the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Our exhibit, "Dinosaurs Under Montana's Big Sky," provided an interactive look at our world-class paleontology program. Through the exhibit, we were able to bring MSU to tens of thousands of visitors in our nation's capital.

Also in June, the U.S. Department of Education announced that as a state, Montana leads the nation in increasing the percentage of adults who earn a college degree. Over the last three years, Montana's proportion of 25- to 64-year-olds who have finished college increased by six percent.

Over the summer months, we welcomed a number of new faces to our campuses, including Dr. Dewitt Latimer, new Chief Information Officer at MSU-Bozeman; Dr. Susan Wolff, new CEO/Dean of Great Falls College MSU; MSU-Bozeman Dean of Business, Dr. Kregg Aytes; MSU-Bozeman Dean of Arts and Architecture, Dr. Nancy Cornwell; and our new MSU-Bozeman Dean of the Library, Kenning Arlitsch. We also completed a number of construction and renovation projects on our campuses. In Bozeman, those projects included a renovation of the entrances and public spaces at Hapner and Langford residence halls, a renovation of Harrison Dining Hall, and upgraded windows and lighting in several residence halls as part of a plan to improve energy performance. In Billings, the Student Union Building now features a new campus store, a new location for the Academic Support Center, more efficient mechanical systems and a new coffee shop, thanks to a $3 million upgrade and renovation. At MSU-Northern, a new floor and bleachers spruced up the Armory Gym, while the SUB dining room was converted from a cafeteria to a food court. And, at Great Falls College MSU, work continues on the Child Development Center, which is designed to make high-quality, affordable child care available to Great Falls College MSU students.

In August, we held our third annual Cat Walk in Bozeman, where individuals from MSU and the community gathered together to march through downtown and the Gallatin Valley Mall to show their Bobcat Spirit.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice gave a memorable address at MSU-Bozeman's 2012 Freshman Convocation in September. In addition to speaking to the incoming freshman class, Rice -- who is an accomplished musician -- performed on the piano and conducted a master class with students. We also learned that MSU-Bozeman received a $3.4 million ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant to help broaden the participation of women faculty members by improving the work environment for the entire campus. In addition, we continued to work on our new strategic plan at MSU-Bozeman, which together we named "Mountains and Minds: Leaders and Learners." The plan focuses on five key areas: learning, discovery, engagement, integration, access and stewardship.

In October several new leaders were named to our Bozeman campus: Dr. Nicol Rae was selected as the new dean of the College of Letters and Science, while Dr. Lynda Ransdell was named dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Development. Both will begin their duties at MSU on Jan. 1. Meanwhile, MSU-Bozeman professor Dr. Rob Maher received the 2012 Outstanding Advising Award for the faculty category from the National Academic Advising Association. Also in October, MSU-Northern held a grand opening ceremony for its newly renovated Advanced Fuels Building, and the two-year arm of MSU-Billings was officially named City College MSU.

In November we learned that two of our students at MSU-Bozeman earned several of the most prestigious scholarships in the world. Joe Thiel, a chemical engineering and liberal studies major from Idaho Falls, won a Rhodes Scholarship, which he will use to study public policy and the economics of development at Oxford University. Bryan Vadheim, a chemical engineering and economics student from Miles City, won a Marshall Scholarship. Vadheim plans to earn a master's degree from the London School of Economics as well as a master's degree in engineering specializing in water science and governance from King's College, also in London.

November was also a terrific month for Bobcat football. The Bobcats posted a victory over the University of Montana in the 112th annual Brawl of the Wild game and earned a share of the Big Sky Conference Championship. Meanwhile, head football coach Rob Ash surpassed Sonny Holland's record as the winningest football coach in MSU-Bozeman's history, and Bobcat quarterback DeNarius McGhee became the winningest quarterback at MSU-Bozeman since 1976.

In addition, Dr. Trevor Douglas and Dr. Michael Sexson, professors on our Bozeman campus, were named Regents Professors, while Dr. Mike Vogel and his team won the 2012 National Extension Diversity Award, and Dr. Mary Burrows received the APLU Western Region Award for Excellence in Extension. To cap off the month, MSU-Bozeman and the Bozeman community enjoyed a victory over UM and the Missoula community in the annual "Can the Griz" food drive.

In December, we hosted a Chautauqua in celebration of Robert Pirsig, author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and a former Montana State professor. Later this month, we'll honor him with an honorary degree at our new Fall Commencement ceremony at MSU-Bozeman -- it will be the first fall commencement in Bozeman in more than half a century!

As we prepare for the end of the semester, I'd like to wish our students the very best of luck on their upcoming finals. And, to all of our students, faculty and staff: Happy holidays! May you have a beautiful and rejuvenating holiday season.

With warm regards,

Waded Cruzado
Waded Cruzado

P.S. Please enjoy images and more information about many of these wonderful accomplishments by clicking below!