Current Pure Gold Recipients
School of Music, MSU-Bozeman
Nathan Stark is director of bands for the MSU School of Music and manages/conducts both MSU'S Wind Symphony and Spirit of the West marching band. Since Dr. Stark took over direction of both ensembles, they have been transformed into beacons of pride for the university and the students who perform in them.
Under Dr. Stark's direction, membership in the SOTW marching band has more than doubled to nearly 200 students. The halftime shows he designs have featured everything from a walking T-Rex to a knight defeating a fire-breathing dragon in battle and are always huge crowd-pleasers. He is known for fostering a welcoming and enjoyable environment within the band, and will always find time to sit down and talk with any student who has questions or concerns.
Dr. Stark has also worked tirelessly with the Wind Symphony and always finds ways to make each concert more impressive and memorable than the last. This semester alone, the ensemble will play a concert featuring songs from world-famous Montana composer David Maslanka. Then, two months later, the band will travel to Washington D.C., to perform at the Kennedy Center for the National Sousa Band Festival.
As a member of both bands, Dr. Stark has had a profound effect on my college career. He constantly challenges his students, but through those challenges we continually grow as musicians and as individuals. My knowledge and ability as a musician has dramatically improved after four years participating in his ensembles, which in turn has positively impacted all aspects of my college education.
Dr. Stark has truly dedicated himself to the university and its students. He constantly consults with colleagues and seeks input from students on ways to improve the School of Music and its ensembles to enhance the experience for its students. Through fostering a positive and welcome environment in his ensembles, Dr. Stark truly makes every student at MSU feel at home.
Dr. Stark is the definition of Pure Gold!
Nominated by Matthew Campbell; Received award on March 22, 2017
Diversity Awareness Office, MSU-Bozeman
As embracing diversity becomes a more pressing concern for university officials around the country, Ariel Donohue's job as MSU's director of the Diversity Awareness Office (DAO) has both broadened and become more challenging.
Montana State is extremely lucky to have this highly intelligent, competent, creative and thoughtful individual in her role. Ariel's knowledge in the area of diversity and inclusivity is extensive, and indeed, impressive; but it is her curiosity, accessibility, and strong gift for critical thinking that make her invaluable to our community. She tirelessly works on a wide variety of professional committees; leads the charge on more inclusive university initiatives, policies, and practices; works with individual students as well as several student organizations; builds lasting inroads with the Bozeman community; researches best practices and trends while disseminating this information to the campus population; creates engaging educational programs; and seeks (and receives) national recognition for both her office and MSU for its work toward recruiting a more diverse student and faculty population.
Engaging the MSU community in a meaningful dialogue about the value of diversity is of utmost importance to Ariel. While many of us may talk a good game about diversity, Ariel is on the ground walking the walk and actively making life better for underrepresented folks on campus every day!
Nominated by Betsy Danforth; Received award on March 15, 2017
Information Technology Services, MSU-Northern
Josh Gomez serves as a computer support specialist at Montana State University-Northern's Information Technology Services. The quality of work he provides as an ITS professional is excellent. Josh goes out of his way to provide commendable service in a timely manner. His commitment to serving the departments he works with, including the Vande Bogart Library, would easily justify his nomination. In addition to this, one of the things that makes Josh stand out as an employee at MSU-Northern is his dedication to the students, which is demonstrated by the additional commitments he has made on campus.
Josh volunteers his time to several groups unrelated to his ITS position. He serves on the Rape Prevention and Education Task Force, a grant-funded program that provides education and prevention programming for sexual assault. On this task force, he brings his extensive experience from his military service to assist in educating and preventing sexual assault on our campus.
Josh also serves on the Veteran's Charge Group, a campus group that has been charged with identifying the needs of student veterans and finding opportunities to address their needs and challenges. Josh is a constant advocate for student veterans, consistently working toward a better system to meet the challenges they face as they work toward attaining their educational goals. He does all this while working toward his bachelor's degree in business.
In recognition for all of Josh's efforts for MSU-Northern and its students, we would like to recognize Josh as Pure Gold.
Nominated by Samantha Clawson; Received award on March 8, 2017
College of Nursing, MSU-Northern
Sharon Caven came out of retirement in late 2014 to assist the Department of Nursing with preparation for the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and Montana Board of Nursing (MTBON) educational site visits. She brought to the department many years of experience from having worked at Northern in various administrative supportive positions. Sharon had knowledge of Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities standards, Office of Commissioner of Higher Education, and Board of Regents requirements and together a team was born to yield success with ACEN, MTBON and NWCCU onsite visits in 2015 and 2016.
Sharon Caven always goes above and beyond her role and responsibilities, first with accreditation and licensing preparation activities, and then taking on standardization of the RN-BSN program as MSU Northern performed the teach out of the old RN BSN curriculum and the rollout of the new statewide RN BSN curriculum. Whenever she was needed and whatever was needed to be done, she was there for the department, the faculty and for the students. She worked days, nights, weekends and holidays to bring success to the Department of Nursing and also MSU-Northern.
Although Sharon is ready to return to retirement, I believe everyone is inspired by her positive role modeling of age not being a factor, and by her unselfish willingness to be available to help meet the needs MSU-Northern so that the needs of the community are also met. It has been an honor working side by side with her.
Nominated by Dr. Jan Starr; Received award on March 1, 2017
Dan is the backbone of all of our labs for the Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah (WIMU) regional program in veterinary medicine and has been with the program since the beginning. He provides a positive outlook to all of the students, even when we are stressed. While coordinating the anatomy labs, handling cadavers and dealing with anxious veterinary students is not always the most glamorous job, Dan always does it with a smile. Dan is always willing to stay late when we are trying to cram for an exam and is the first one to tell us that we are going to be fine and that it is not the end of the world.
Dan makes sure that everything is always ready to go for the students each day before lab. He arrives before the students and organizes all of the tables so they are equipped with everything needed for that day's lab and is the last one to leave after helping students clean the tables and instruments.
Dan is humble in all that he does. He builds skeletons and color codes them to help the students learn. He often does these after everyone else has gone home and receives little acknowledgment for the amazing work he does. He always has a positive outlook and a wonderful sense of humor. When students are stressed he keeps the mood light and the students encouraged.
Dan is Pure Gold and a great asset to the WIMU program at MSU. Without him, the program and labs would not be same.
Nominated by Garrett Ryerson; Received award on February 22, 2017
Animal & Range Sciences Administrative Team, MSU-Bozeman
Whether working as a team or independently in their respective roles, the Animal and Range Sciences administrative team provides steadfast support to its faculty, staff and students. Each goes beyond their job description, with an "anything else you need?" attitude for jobs both small and large.
"Their level of energy and commitment is amazing," said Department Head Pat Hatfield. "They are all outstanding professionals who go above and beyond their job descriptions to make tremendous contributions to the research, teaching, and service missions of Montana State University. Their efforts make our department a better place to work and study for both students and faculty."
Leading the team is Susan Cooper, assistant to the department head and supervisor of the administrative associates. Susan is the primary contact for the department, whose tasks include organizing meetings, handling correspondence, fielding phone calls, managing building upkeep, scheduling meeting rooms and coordinating the MSU Farrier School.
As administrative associate for departmental faculty, Julie Hager provides teaching and research support for faculty members. She assists in preparing grants and manuscripts and guides faculty through dossier preparation and the promotion and tenure process. Julie coordinates job and internship opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students by connecting producers and businesses with MSU students and alumni.
As Extension specialists administrative associate, Sharon Henderson works with both Animal and Range Sciences and MSU Extension, coordinating events such as the wool harvesting school and youth horsemanship camp. Sharon also maintains the departmental website and contributes to its social media pages.
Denise Thompson, administrative associate for student records, is responsible for departmental student - and academia-related issues, such as scheduling courses and classrooms, ordering books and maintaining student files. She continually updates degree requirements and produces various academic reports. Denise is the primary contact for inquiries into pursuing an Animal and Range Sciences degree.
Accounting Associate Lisa White handles all departmental accounting and fiscal management for federal, state, Extension and private funds. This entails working with faculty, staff and students as well as with other departments on campus.
For all they do, the Animal and Range Sciences administrative team is Pure Gold!
Nominated by Jim Berardinelli; Received award on February 15, 2017
Extended University, MSU-Bozeman
Many of the Pure Gold honorees are people who work on the front lines, interacting with students each and every day. Christy Cousino is proof that ALL of us can positively impact the lives of students and our partners even though we might rarely interact in person.
Christy is the webmaster for MSU Extended University. She creates the web pages, forms, databases and online infrastructure that help students learn about and enroll in non-credit courses, camps, workshops and other programs. Many of these students fall into the "non-traditional" category -- they're older or they live in a rural area. They may have limited experience with computers or are unfamiliar with a college campus. At the same time, many of the outreach programs utilize new technologies to provide interactive and engaging learning experiences.
Christy is dedicated to using technology to make each of these learner's experiences the best possible. She is an advocate for clear writing, accessible design and clean navigation. Christy is also the consummate MSU team player, serving on committees, helping us implement new systems, paying close attention to network security, and keeping us informed about new developments in web communications.
In addition to her work with Extended University, Christy has worked closely with the Offices of the Registrar, Admissions and Student Success to navigate a smooth transition for MSU Online admissions, enrollment, and communications.
Every day, Christy gives her all to MSU students -- especially those considered non-traditional by providing the best possible support and opportunities for success.
Christy Cousino is Pure Gold!
Nominated by Suzi Taylor; Received award on February 8, 2017
IT Department, MSU-Billings
Darrel Williams always goes above and beyond in his duties as Desktop Support, Information Technology, Institutional Research, and eLearning Specialist. I had a large project to complete and was using Box, new to me. I was getting frustrated with the technology and Darrel spent as much time as I needed to become comfortable with the process. His unlimited patience is very much appreciated by myself and other members of the Montana State University Billings family.
Darrel also serves on Staff Senate as vice chair and serves on a variety of Staff Senate committees offering his experience. Last year's "Bring Your Child to Work Day" was a great success in part due to Darrel's leadership. The "Minute to Win It" game won rave reviews with the participants and was all due to Darrelís efforts.
Darrel is also a devoted family man with four children and a beautiful wife, Cari. Darrel inspires those he works with to do the very best we can and to help our students be successful. He is genuine and brings such a positive attitude to all he engages with and those around him.
Nominated by Karen Mikelson; Received award on February 1, 2017
Western Transportation Institute, MSU-Bozeman
Dan Richter has been a research associate at the Western Transportation Institute for nine years and we are proud to have him as a member of the Systems Group. Unassuming and always ready to lighten the mood with his sharp sense of humor, Dan exemplifies the values and work ethic we strive for and sets a great example for our students.
Dan came out of "retirement" to join our group in November 2007, and brought a wealth of experience with him. He grew up on the East Coast and worked as an analyst (Software Developer++) for a pipeline company, among other jobs. Not your typical code programmer, Dan has worked on real-time, mission critical systems in the field -- literally in the field -- and just about anywhere else you can think of. As such, one of Dan's checks when we interview prospective student programmers is to ask them if they work on their own car or if they like to build things. He demonstrates a hands-on, can-do attitude, rarely asking for help, but he is always there to provide guidance and support when needed, particularly to our students.
Dan has been a key team member and programming lead on projects such as WeatherShare and the Automated Safety Warning Controller System, as well as on national award-winning projects such as Redding Responder and the One-Stop-Shop for Rural Traveler Information. Our sponsor (Caltrans) holds Dan in the highest regard and appreciates his work as much as we do.
Dan escaped industry to move west and enjoy the rivers in the summer and the mountains in the winter. He is an accomplished rafting guide and skier, and selflessly volunteers with Eagle Mount to help disabled children enjoy activities such as skiing, which they might not otherwise be able to participate in without volunteers like him. Sometimes, we worry that Dan will escape to the rivers or mountains full time.
We are thankful Dan's dedication to our group, students and projects keeps him indoors with us for a while longer.
Nominated by Douglas Galarus; Received award on January 25, 2017
Recreation Sports and Fitness, MSU-Bozeman
Michele Cusack is one of the few exceptional, down-to-earth people you will meet on campus who not only touches your life at a personal level but always inspires you to do better. For the past seven years, Michele has been the positive spirit of the Recreational Sports and Fitness team. She works with students and other staff members at a very personal level. She always gets tasks organized and completes them within their deadline.
Michele is an amazing team player and is well-known among the staff across campus for her work ethic, positive and cheerful attitude and for going above and beyond!
She made the development of the RSF mobile application possible, which was not an easy task. She researched the pros and cons of having a mobile application, inquired among different people on campus as to what they expected from this mobile application and made the implementation possible. This application is now being used by more than 2,000 students and staff across campus. It was under Michele's tutelage that the Point-of-Sales software and Web Portal implementation (FUSION) also became part of RSF's operation. Michele researched other departments across campus for their collaboration and worked selflessly to get this project implemented, which our department is proud of.
Traveling to Bozeman, Montana from a different country has come with many ups and downs, but after meeting people like Michele; life and people around me seem friendlier. She has such a positive outlook towards work, is open-minded toward different cultures and continually inspires those around her to have a positive and broader outlook.
Michele is like a family member to me and is the heart and soul of Recreational Sports and Fitness. Michele is Pure Gold.
Nominated by Shriyansh Kothari; Received award on January 18, 2017