Extraordinary Ordinary Women of Montana State
Dorothy Aasheim was one of the founders of Women’s Week, a program through MSU Extension, for which she was so proud. She was involved for 42 years and took over 100 courses.
Kiah Abbey graduated from Montana State University in 2014 and served as ASMSU president during her junior year. Her work to ensure equity for women, LGBTQ+ folks and parenting students was unprecedented. Her work with Forward Montana continues to engage students in the political process through education and voter registration.
Crystal Alegria is a Montana State University alumna (sociology & anthropology in 1995 and history in 1998). She educates students and the public through her work with Project Archaeology and the Montana Site Stewardship Program.
Minerva Allen is a member of Montana State University’s Council of Elders, providing her wisdom and advice to two MSU presidents. Allen is a pillar in her Lodge Pole and Fort Belknap reservation community, an educational leader at Aaniiih Nakoda College, a creative poet and writer.
Brooke D. Anderson, an accomplished American diplomat, has served as an ambassador at the United Nations, chief of staff and counselor for the White House National Security Council and most recently as senior adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State on the Iran nuclear negotiations.
Patricia Anderson worked at Montana State University for 34 years where she advised many student groups. After years of living with bias against women in the workplace, she filed a suit against the university and won a judgment against MSU in 1990 for a pattern of discrimination in pay practices.
Sandra Bailey has served as a professor and family and human development specialist for Extension since 2001. She has provided leadership to programs provided by Montana State University Extension that have improved the lives of countless Montanans, providing vital outreach and education to women (and men) across the state.
Victoria Barnick is a fourth-generation Montanan from Ringling who worked in the health care and informatics arenas. She created a scholarship opening doors to and providing support for Montana’s female and Native American students studying the sciences.
Camie Bechtold is a senior associate director of athletics and an advocate for women at Montana State University. Serving as the first staff member co-chair of the PCOSUW, she works hard to improve the lives of student athletes and women in particular.
Marjorie Haymond Beckman taught wastewater treatment at MSU-Northern. As one of the first women on the Glasgow school board, she championed equal opportunities for women, including changing the dress code to allow girls to wear pants to school. She was a life-long educator, caregiver, mentor and role model.
Ann Bertagnolli, a Montana native, is a Montana State University professor and the Montana INBRE program coordinator. She has been the lead for a program that is the backbone of a statewide biomedical research network that now involves 15 academic institutions, including seven tribal colleges.
Cass (Bauer) Bilodeau played basketball at Montana State University from 1990-94 and graduated with a degree in nursing. To date, she is the only Bobcat to play in the WNBA.
Tricia Bader Binford is Montana State University’s winningest and longest serving head coach for women’s basketball. From 2015-2018 alone, her teams broke 24 records. Their successes occurred, most impressively, alongside valuing academics, community service and family.
Phyllis Bock, as the first ASMSU attorney, did much to advance women in the workplace, serving as a beacon of hope for thousands of students. Bock exemplifies the best of humanity – compassion, caring and a deep commitment to advancing the underrepresented.
Dorothy Bradley was elected to the Montana Legislature in 1971 as the only woman in the House of Representatives. In 1993, she was hired as director of the University System Water Center at Montana State University.
Corale Brierley fell in love with microbiology during her time at Montana State University. She went on to be inducted in 1999 into the U.S. National Academy of Engineering for "innovations applying biotechnology to mine production and remediation.” Few women are inducted into the academy even to this day.
Joan Broderick is the first Women in Science Distinguished Professor at Montana State University, an internationally known researcher in chemistry, a gifted teacher and an inspirational and valued mentor.
Tammie Brown-Butler headed up the Residence Life Program for over 30 years at Montana State University, leading MSU to become the 1998 School of the Year, and overseeing the growth of students living in residence halls from 1,900 to nearly 3,900 students.
Janis Bruwelheide, professor emerita of education, was an early advocate of distance education and created the Borderless Access to Training and Education program, which converted a campus-based undergraduate K-12 school library media program into an ongoing self-sustaining graduate online program serving thousands of teachers throughout Montana and beyond.
Michelle Bryan teaches in the University of Montana Law School, specifically in the natural resources and environmental law program, where she focuses on using the law to solve complex issues surrounding our shared landscapes and resources. She believes that “as women and Native peoples are treated, so too is the earth.”
Frieda Bull taught mathematics in the Montana State University mathematics department from 1907 to 1954, at a time when mathematics was a field occupied almost entirely by men.
Since beginning work at Montana State University in 1985, Corlann, or “Corky” as everyone called her, made significant contributions to the careers of women at the university, local community and state levels by making their working environments more equitable, diverse and safe.
Anne Camper started at Montana State University by earning her bachelor’s degree in microbiology in 1975. She then received the first MSU doctorate in civil engineering, was the first woman named a Montana University System Regents Professor and was selected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
Vicki Heebner Carle was the first Bobcat women’s basketball player to be inducted into the Montana State University Athletics Hall of Fame. She is listed among the top 10 in nine different categories in the Bobcat record book.
Erin Cech graduated from Montana State University in 2005. Her work as a leader for women in engineering was notable and led to roles such as ambassador for the College of Engineering and a seat on the Women in Engineering Advisory Council.
Kay Chafey served as professor and associate and interim dean for the College of Nursing. She established the Caring for Our Own Program that recruits and retains Native American nursing students to serve in their home communities.
Gladys Branegan Chalkley was an early innovator in the Department of Home Economics, developing curriculum, infrastructure and outreach programs that included international relationships. Chalkley initiated three state educational groups: the Montana Association of University Women (1931), Montana Home Economics Association (1920) and the Montana Dietetics Association (1934).
Lynette Chandler-Stein (Aaniiih) was an internationally recognized educator and leader of her people in language preservation and revitalization. She founded the White Clay Language School to revitalize the Aaniiih Language, thus changing the course of Aaniiih history.
Ardy SixKiller Clarke established the first Center for Bilingual and Multicultural Education at Montana State University in 1981 and served as director for 24 years until she retired. Over that time, she provided over 450 scholarships to Native American students and women and worked with 27 tribal groups in the Northwest.
World traveler, administrative innovator and educator both in the classroom and out, Bertha Clow is known for her concern about proper nutrition, domestically and internationally, and her portrayal of these issues through her photography.
Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet) took the federal government to court, challenging the United States' mismanagement of trust funds belonging to more than 500,000 Native Americans – and won a $3.4 billion settlement in their favor. For her work, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation genius award and an MSU honorary doctorate in 2002.
Sarah Codd is a professor of mechnical engineering and an extraordinary role model for women in the sciences. She works hard, plays hard and racks up successes for herself and her students along the way.
Betty Coffey was an early champion of diversity and inclusivity for women in STEM. As a computer scientist and the first female tenured faculty member in the College of Engineering, she continues to inspire inclusive teaching and service at MSU all these years later.
During her tenure, Cathy Conover oversaw Montana State University's integrated marketing plan, published the university's new flagship magazine, Mountains and Minds, and represented MSU at the Montana Legislature.
Since January 2010, Waded Cruzado has served as the 12th president of Montana State University and its first woman president. During that time, she has significantly reshaped the face and future of the state's first land-grant institution.
As one of the first women in her field, Harriette Cushman held the position of Extension poultry specialist at Montana State College from 1922 until 1955. She worked tirelessly to build a profitable poultry industry that proved to be an economic success during the Depression.
Betsy Danforth has been the director of the Women's Center for over 26 years and continues to work ceaselessly – through organizing programming and supporting the initiatives of other groups (e.g. LGBTQ+ History Month educational events) – to make MSU a more inclusive and welcoming place for all students, staff and faculty.
Dillon native Ingrid DeGreef, a software engineering director at Lockheed Martin’s space division, has been a role model for women in male-dominated fields and a stalwart supporter of Montana State University’s efforts to support women students and faculty.
Angela Des Jardins, a Bozeman native, chairs the Council of Space Grant Directors, where she has had an impact on thousands of students studying STEM fields across Montana and the nation.
As director of advising commons and university studies, Diane Donnelly is first and foremost an academic adviser. Her energy and enthusiasm for advising, students and MSU is infectious.
Ariel Donohue’s contributions to a more inclusive campus are countless. Her work as director of the Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons has led to fundamental and lasting advancements to Montana State University’s campus climate which are enormously advantageous for everyone as MSU embraces diversity through education, awareness and connection.
Florence Dunkel’s contributions to teaching, research and community engagement in the field of entomology are world class. The leagues of students she has inspired will carry her work into the future. The rising industry of edible insects in Montana and worldwide is due in part to her outreach.
Geraldine "Gerry" Fenn was a Montana State University Extension 4-H youth development specialist. She was a founder of the International Farm Youth Exchange program promoting intercultural exchange. She also launched the People Partner program providing leadership opportunities and funding for youth to design and complete community projects.
Marjorie Fowlkes was the first female physician in the Student Health Center at Montana State University and established the Women’s Health Clinic.
Florence Garcia has served in leadership roles at mainstream universities and tribal colleges. At each one, she was an advocate for inclusivity, cross-cultural understanding and cultivating a sense of belonging.
Regina Gee’s research on the Oplontis Project in the Bay of Naples resulted in an incredible collaboration with Montana State University and the Museum of the Rockies – connecting the greater Yellowstone area to the Bay of Naples and the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Nora Chestnutt Gerrity has practiced in both the clinical and hospital setting, caring for children with severe illness, trauma, disability and alleged abuse. Throughout her career, she has been an active supporter of women by supporting students in both medicine and nursing.
Marsha Goetting is an extraordinary professor and Extension family economics specialist, who travels extensively throughout the state, sharing financial and estate planning information. She was one of the first female faculty members in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics.
Julia Haggerty runs the Resources and Communities Research Group, a collaborative lab that researches the socioeconomic impacts of resource development on local communities. She models integrated approaches that blend theory and practice and is committed to empowering students to develop research skills that address individual needs, interests and career goals.
Olga Ross Hannon was a prominent art professor who wanted to "prepare students for a practical realization of their talents.” She came to Montana State College (now Montana State University) in 1921 to head the art department for 25 years.
Kerry Hanson was the first out-of-state focused admissions representative for Montana State University from 1993-1999 when enrollments slowly started to increase. She then stayed on campus in professional positions within the alumni engagement arm of advancement. She now leads the current alumni team, as well as the alumni association, a position she has held since 2013.
Alison Harmon’s educational background is in biology, forestry and nutrition. Those interests led her to become an excellent faculty member and now the dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Development.
Suzanne Held has achieved national and international recognition as a scholar for community-based participatory research and community service. She serves as a leader on campus for growing the research capacity of all faculty, especially women.
Una B. Herrick was the first dean of women at Montana State College (now Montana State University). She was a champion of women and created many lasting MSU traditions, including the Day of Student Recognition.
Marga Hosaeus was a pioneer and strong advocate for women in athletics and served as head of the women’s health and physical education department. The Marga Hosaeus Health, Physical Education and Recreation Complex was named in her honor.
Virginia "Ginny" Hunt was one of the first women’s athletic directors in the nation and built a thriving women’s athletic program that will stand forever as testimony to her success. She was recently honored by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) as one of its lifetime achievement award recipients.
Kristen Intemann is notably the first woman ever promoted to full professor in philosophy at Montana State University. She is a dedicated advocate of feminist values and is the longest standing chair of the women’s, gender and sexuality studies minor, which she has successfully transformed into a robust and accessible program.
Frankie Jackson was the first doctoral recipient from Montana State University’s earth sciences department. She has an international reputation as an expert on dinosaur eggs and eggshells, conducting fieldwork across the American West, China, Spain and Argentina. She is an ambassador for paleontological education and research at MSU.
Denise Juneau’s story takes her from Head Start to Harvard and from being a classroom teacher to a national education leader. Juneau has worked as a teacher, lawyer and director of Indian education before she was elected Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Bridget Kevane was instrumental in motivating Montana State University to adopt a stop-the-tenure clock policy for family care. She is an advocate for Latina women, training and mentoring them as health advocates for their families.
Ellen Kreighbaum has been a visionary leader for women’s athletics, a teacher, and researcher in the area of biomechanics. She participated in a sex discrimination law suit resulting in changes in salaries, promotion, tenure and administrative positions.
Chere LeClair graduated from Montana State University’s School of Architecture in 1991. After obtaining a master’s degree and professional experience, LeClair returned to MSU to teach in the School of Architecture. She serves as a role model for women in architecture and advocates for a profession that embraces equity and inclusion.
Ilse-Mari Lee currently serves as dean of Montana State University’s Honors College. She joined MSU in the fall of 1989 and has taught generations of students in the School of Music and the Honors College. MSU students appreciate her dedication to teaching and her unique ability to inspire students to achieve the extraordinary.
Mildred Leigh served at Montana State University for 38 years, first as director of Hamilton Hall and then as director of the Student Union. Her personality enabled her to work directly with students and faculty and made the Student Union an important center of the campus that continues today.
Jane Marguerite Lindsley graduated from Montana State College in the 1920s and became the first permanent female park ranger.
Marilyn Lockhart’s signature contributions for over 20 years, as a faculty member and director of the Center for Faculty Excellence, have impacted the lives and careers of women students, faculty and community members.
Mary Lukin is a Montana State University alumna, a pioneer in Native American education at MSU and the founding director of a variety of award-winning MSU programs that help underserved students.
Henrietta Mann is a professor emeritus of Native American Studies, founding recipient of the Montana State University Katz Endowed Chair in Native American Studies and founding/active member of MSU's Council of Elders. You can still find her crisscrossing the United States teaching, speaking and advocating for Native American education.
Michelle Maskiell worked at Montana State University for over 25 years, serving in various roles including affirmative action officer, assistant vice president for academic affairs and co-chair of the founding committee for the women’s studies minor. Her work implementing the program was instrumental in the minor’s success today.
Laura Massey spearheaded the online Early Childhood Education Distance Partnership (ECEDP) Program at Montana State University to help tribal Head Start teachers complete their bachelor's degrees. Massey overcame major obstacles in financing and providing supplies for students. She mentored numerous students and professors and ultimately provided a similar level of education for participants.
Caroline McGill, a physician from Butte, founded the Museum of the Rockies and has inspired and enriched the lives of young and old across Montana and the world.
Sheldon McKamey, executive director of the Museum of the Rockies, has dedicated a 30-year career to Montana State University. Her vision and her deep Montana roots have inspired many positive transformations to MSU’s Museum of the Rockies.
Carmen McSpadden is director of Montana State University’s Leadership Institute. With over 35 years in Bozeman, McSpadden is fully enmeshed in the Gallatin Valley community, serving on the board of several local organizations. She is also known for cofounding an adventure travel company.
Helene Michael earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology from Montana State University in 1985, led a successful career at Boeing and has since established herself as a great advocate for women in engineering at MSU.
Lindsay Murdock graduated from Montana State University in 2014 with a degree in sociology and honors. Murdock was co-founder and co-chair of the Equal Pay Task Force and a student participant in the nondiscrimination policy 703 expansion.
Mary Murphy, the first female Michael P. Malone Professor of History at Montana State University, is an extraordinary scholar, teacher, colleague and beloved mentor to women faculty and students.
LeeAnna Muzquiz is a practicing family practitioner with the tribal health department for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She was recently named associate dean of admissions for the University of Washington Medical School. Muzquiz is dedicated to finding ways to increase the workforce of Native physicians.
Meta Newhouse, a professor in graphic design, has taken her real-world experience in design and advertising into her classes in the School of Art. She pioneered the award-winning DSEL program -- working across colleges --prompting students to work in interdisciplinary teams to solve human-centered problems, creating innovative projects and products.
Pat Oriet’s work at Montana State University Student Health is noteworthy as she helped establish a women’s health education program in the 1970s, allowing women to make independent choices about their lives that was sometimes met with resistance.
Marje Paisley taught home economics for 20 years and was instrumental in expanding the Child Development Center and designing both Hannon Hall and Family Housing. She served as dean of women for 10 years guiding, mentoring and inspiring college women toward life-long success.
Martha Harwood Maxey Bolles Palffy’s life story is described best as scholar, educator, historian, businesswoman, entrepreneur, wife and mother. Palffy taught at Montana State University, designed fine denim and leather western clothing and helped organize the Native American section of the McGill Museum, now the Museum of the Rockies.
Mary Ann Pearce, 1976 bachelor‘s degree in chemical engineering, became a leader at ConocoPhillips, where she headed projects in six states and seven foreign countries. While a student at Montana State University, she established the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.
Sharron Quisenberry was the first woman dean of the College of Agriculture and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station director. She was also one of the first female PhD Extension agents in the country.
Margaret Hiza Redsteer (Crow) has the ability to integrate western science with tribal environmental knowledge, thus adding a new dimension to climate change research and the study of desertification. Using these talents, she has been a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Gladys Hartley Roehm, professor emeritus of foods and nutrition in the home economics department, established and supervised the hot lunch program for the state of Montana through Montana State University.
Yvonne Rudman was instrumental in starting the woman’s task force that evolved into the President’s Commission on the Status of University Women. Her global savvy in the Office of International Programs has created cross-cultural experiences for thousands of students.
Sara Rushing is an associate professor in political science and has worked in a number of formal and informal ways (e.g. family advocate for the university, faculty adviser for the Queer Straight Alliance) to improve conditions for women at MSU and ensure gender diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.
Ronda Russell has played a leading role in the sustained and diversified enrollment growth at Montana State University over the past 25 years including record enrollments for each of the 10 years leading to MSU’s 125th anniversary.
Rita Sand meets Native students where they are, encourages their dreams and helps pave the path to their success in the university and in their lives.
As the inaugural director of the Montana State University Victim Options in the Campus Environment (VOICE) Center for interpersonal violence advocacy and education, Christian Sarver was both incredibly impassioned and effective as she faced a plethora of challenges.
Mary Schweitzer is a great example of someone who saw the value in education, following a nontraditional path to a Montana State University doctorate in biology, and made the remarkable discovery of blood cells in a dinosaur fossil.
Nancy Seleski earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Montana State University in 1986 and launched a career at 3M, where she has worked for more than 30 years. An active mentor and advocate for women at 3M, she has also supported MSU’s efforts to honor outstanding faculty women in the sciences.
Frances Senska became known as the “grandmother of ceramics in Montana,” partly because of the illustrious list of students who passed through her classroom and also because of her steady output of beautiful pottery that has come to live in many homes in the state and abroad.
Anna M. Shannon elevated the Montana State University College of Nursing from a relatively obscure state university program to national recognition for research and theory development in rural nursing.
Heidi Sherick graduated from Montana State University and continued her work here as a strong advocate for women in engineering. She served as both assistant dean for undergraduate programs and diversity in the College of Engineering and directed the Engineering Minority Program, underscoring her passion for equity in engineering.
Anna ”Pearl” Sherrick was the founding leader of the nursing program at Montana State University. She believed Montana’s nurses should have the opportunity to earn college degrees in order to have well-rounded educational preparation for careers in professional nursing practice and education.
Alanna Sherstad directs the Montana State University Victim Options in the Campus Environment (VOICE) Center. Steady and unwavering, Sherstad has empowered countless survivors who have walked through the doors of the VOICE Center, while simultaneously building a multitude of bridges with the MSU, Bozeman and Gallatin County communities.
Louise Stone Shunk was a Montana State College alumna and district director for State Home Demonstration for MSU. She exemplified the core values of the land-grant mission in her dedication to her family, to education and to the people of Montana.
Gail Small is a long-term, stalwart protector of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation’s sovereignty, culture, religion and environment – all the foundations of the tribal way of life.
Jessi L. Smith, former director of the MSU ADVANCE project, helped improve faculty diversity and inclusion efforts. Under her leadership, Montana State University women faculty were hired at parity with men, were more likely to actualize their research potential and able to take advantage of greater work-life intergration.
Elmira Smyrl was a pioneer for women in a field dominated by men. The legacy she left as a practicing architect, professor and mentor as well as creator of multiple programs within the Bozeman area is a testament to her character.
As a head coach at Montana State University, Judy Spoelstra brought the MSU women’s basketball team into Big Sky prominence from 1989-95 and set a precedent of excellence within the program for years to come.
Sharon Stands Overbull has been a pioneer in public education for over 50 years, working to increase the retention rate of graduates and overall academic scores to the educational system on Indian reservations. She is a strong advocate for equality in educational opportunities for both women and Native Americans.
Tracy M. Sterling serves as head of Montana State University’s Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, where she not only continues her award-winning research in weed science, but also excels in education, mentoring and removing barriers for underrepresented groups across disciplines.
Jan Strout was the inaugural director of the Montana State University Women’s Center. Her primary contribution to the MSU community in the early 1980s was to elevate and intensify the dialogue on the campus around women's issues, as well as those surrounding race, poverty and violence.
Elisabeth Swanson is associate professor emerita, science education, and was the director of the Montana State University Science/Math Resource Center from 1996-2012. As an MSU science educator, she was a prolific and highly successful grant writer, leader in research and outreach for Montana educators and mentor to many.
Jean Sweeney is a pioneer as a woman in the world of engineering. Sweeney earned a chemical engineering degree from Montana State University and went on to become a vice president of the 3M corporation. She has established, with her mother, the Bennington scholars program to support women engineering students at MSU.
Leslie Taylor served as Montana State University’s chief legal counsel, advising MSU Presidents Tietz, Malone, Rourke, Gamble and Cruzado. Her guidance assisted MSU leadership to grow from a small university to a major research institution.
Lucille Smith Thompson was a reference librarian and head of reference at Montana State University from 1964-1985 and served as a mentor and leader to others during a time of limited diversity in Montana.
Professor emerita of physics, Sachiko Tsuruta’s career is marked by eminent neutron star research and strong support for women with her unassuming, committed leadership.
An alumna of Montana State University and current associate director of MSU MilTech, Nikki Tuss hires, trains and inspires women on a regular basis by developing systems that instill confidence in MSU.
Jayne van Alstyne was a brilliant and creative individual who fearlessly pioneered design in a male-dominated field. She was a Montana State University professor from 1949-1955 and 1972-1985. Her legacy continues to inspire MSU design students and all women in the design profession today.
As an alumna, Cecilia Vaniman became Montana State University’s first woman campus architect, campus planner and director of facilities planning from 1990-2006. She was an innovative problem-solver, champion for artwork and historic preservation and always a supporter of women's issues.
Jovanka Voyich-Kane is an alumna and associate professor of molecular biology and immunology. She has risen to national and international prominence with her research and has had an incredible impact on the educational and research mission of Montana State.
As director of general studies for over 20 years, Margaretha Wessel impacted the lives of thousands. She passionately helped marginalized groups, especially women, overcome obstacles and guided them in completing undergraduate and advanced degrees and provided them internships and employment in general studies.
As director of communications and state lobbyist, Marilyn Wessel was responsible for helping modernize Montana State University’s communications systems. In addition, she worked tirelessly for gender equity on campus and in the community. She was a trailblazer for professional women holding positions that were never held by women before.
Cathy Whitlock is a world-class scientist and educator and the first National Academy of Sciences member in Montana (male or female). She is also an amazing supporter of science outreach and mentor of multiple students and faculty.
Jessie Wilber was a professor and former director of the art department at Montana State University. A highly productive printmaker, she was always praised for her innovation and willingness to adapt and improve upon her work.
As an associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Nursing, Donna Williams acted as a mentor to women, providing them additional financial support and educational opportunities.
Kath Williams is a Montana State University alumna, current vice president of the Museum of the Rockies board of trustees and president of Kath Williams + Associates, a company that has helped MSU meet its sustainability goals. She supports women students at MSU by providing paid internships in her business.
Franke Wilmer’s multifaceted contributions in academia, politics and the struggle for human rights have enriched the Montana State University campus and the greater Montana community.
Melody Zajdel was a professor of English and associate dean for student and faculty development in the College of Letters and Science. Her work on the inaugural advisory board for the Women’s Center and as co-creator of the women’s studies program were invaluable to women’s equality at Montana State University.