Current Pure Gold Recipients
Office of Sponsored Programs, MSU-Bozeman
Traci Miyakawa is a Senior Fiscal Manager in the Office of Sponsored Programs at MSU Bozeman. She is Pure Gold to MSU faculty and staff who rely on her to manage their grants and contracts in a timely, efficient, and accurate manner as well as to her colleagues at OSP.
Traci is not only highly professional; she is invariably cheerful, highly responsive, and exemplary in her customer focus. And, seemingly effortlessly, she handles a very large caseload.
For example, Traci manages the grants and contracts for MSU’s Defense-funded activities at TechLink and MilTech. These activities have grown by 300% over the past several years. Expenditures for these two programs topped $13 million in FY17, approximately 10% of MSU total research expenditures. Traci handled this expansion without any hitches and without complaint. Department of Defense finance and contracting officers for TechLink and MilTech frequently refer to MSU as a “well-oiled machine,” thanks to Traci.
Traci’s colleagues in OSP have are highly complementary of her outstanding work ethic, problem-solving abilities, high quality of work, meticulous attention to detail, positive attitude, and collegiality. Traci Miyakawa is a valuable asset to MSU. She is Pure Gold.
Nominated by Will Swearingen; Received award on November 22, 2017
Yellowstone Public Radio, MSU-Billings
Jim is the only engineer for Yellowstone Public Radio. He is responsible for 26 broadcast signals spread across Montana and Northern Wyoming, from Cutbank to Worland and Glendive to Broadus. His "can-do" nature keeps YPR on the air through rain and snow and ice storms often requiring him to travel long distances into remote tower locations at the drop of the hat and Jim never hesitates to get the job done.
His travels for maintenance and repair put him in direct contact with many people in these communities. He does an excellent job representing Yellowstone Public Radio and by extension the Montana University System as a whole. Furthermore, his tireless work to keep YPR on the air gives listeners the opportunity for life-long learning through the regional and national programming that YPR provides.
Jim's positivity, kindness, and his enthusiasm to try new things, inspires all of us on the YPR staff and anyone he comes in contact with. He is well-respected by his peers in broadcast media all over the state and is always willing to help where he can.
Yellowstone Public Radio would not be able to maintain its broadcast quality without Jim. We cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Pure Gold Award than Jim Nichols.
Nominated by Jill HIrschi; Received award on November 15, 2017
When he's not in the library crunching through mechanical engineering homework, Sean Komora is a volunteer fire fighter for the Hyalite fire department, and an EMT for AMR. While most students would be out partying, he devotes his free time to literally saving people's lives.
Whenever another student is down or is having trouble in a class, Sean is always there smiling and ready to help.
He is an inspiration to his fellow students, and has inspired me and others to get more involved, not only with our colleagues, but with the community.
Nominated by Jamie McWilliam; Received award on November 8, 2017
MSU Child Development Center, MSU-Bozeman
As a teacher at the MSU Child Development Center for over 20 years, Jean Hannula is part of the team that performs an incredibly important mission for our community. Jean and her co-workers at CDC provide early childhood education for children ages 3-5 and help these youngsters make the transition from the home to prepare to enter Kindergarten. This is a very important step in life and can be very challenging for both student and parent. Jean has such a warm and calming influence and she makes that big step so much more wonderful and less intimidating. Jean is also a crucial part of fulfilling another critical role for CDC: to be a laboratory site for research and learning for MSU students and faculty. CDC is the primary field placement site for all MSU Early Childhood Education & Child Services students. CDC graduates become our youngest Bobcat alumni. In fact, some of these alumni, who had Jean as a teacher at CDC have now come back as MSU CDC student teachers. Jean?s work toward connecting the preschool children with residents of Birchwood at Hillcrest Senior Living reflects her passion about linking children with the elder community and that our community is stronger when we also value our youngest and oldest members. As a parent of a current CDC child and a graduate, it makes me smile to hear them sing ?Oh how I love CDC where friends become your family?? even after graduating. Thanks Jean for going above and beyond and making CDC such a special place!
Nominated by August Uhl; Received award on November 1, 2017
College of Letters and Science Office, MSU-Bozeman
Sarah Miller cheerfully answers questions about a wide array of issues to make the College of Letters and Science function at our best. Whenever I bring a complex problem to her, Sarah has a thoughtful and appropriate response. Whether it is a staffing problem, a problem with a reporting system, a problem with hiring paperwork, or a problem determining who to talk to about setting up a new activity in my department, Sarah works diligently to make sure that I receive the best possible solution. Sarah's quiet ability to creatively fix any problem that comes her way inspires me to never accept a mediocre solution. She helps us to provide the best possible route forward in every instance.
Nominated by Mary Cloninger; Received award on October 25, 2017
MSU Food Service, MSU-Bozeman
The Bug Buffet is well known at Montana State University, but few folks know it is Toots Taszut who is responsible for it becoming more than a small annual event in the MSU Plant Growth Center put on by Florence Dunkel and her BIOO 162CS students and teaching assistants. It was Toots' openness to new foods such as insects, coupled with her scholarly approach to food safety that pulled us through the "eye of the needle" from the "Dark Ages" to the Renaissance of Edible Insects.
Toots did her homework in food safety regulations, invited Florence to teach University Culinary Services how to wrangle commercial food insects, and began to invent recipes together with them. From the beginning, Toots was sensitive to folks with food allergens and to special "seatings" for the youngest and most enthusiastic Bug Buffet attendees --the preschoolers, who are now annual guests of the Bug Buffet.
Toots, we laud the encouraging, enthusiastic, creative way you work with the public and garner financial support. We laud your dedication to the education of all ages -- from preschoolers to faculty and administrators. We especially recognize the Miller Dining Hall Halloween event featuring chirpy treats, and President Cruzado's breakfast with enriched mango smoothies for members of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development and their Museum of the Rockies reception with chirpy hors d'oeuvres -- all of which you took a leading role. Above all, we appreciate your commitment to "not-fooling-around" science to verify the safety aspect coupled with your ethno-relative worldview.
Toots opened the way for edible insects to inspire MSU students and entrepreneurs, such as Cowboy Cricket Farms, L.L.C., launched by MSU students who were inspired at a 2016 Bug Buffet workshop. The Bug Buffet's mission is to raise public awareness of nutritionally dense alternatives in our food system, while simultaneously reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture.
Nominated by Florence Dunkel; Received award on October 18, 2017
MSU Bookstore, MSU-Bozeman
Chad is a newer member of our Bobcat community, but his commitment to his colleagues and to students would lead you to believe he has been bleeding blue and gold for life.
Chad is the associate general manager of the MSU Bookstore since October 2016. He has worked hard to get to know his team and create a culture that encourages greater partnerships across campus.
Chad always says "YES!" when it is in the best interest of students. When I asked him to join the MSU Debut committee last spring, he was thrilled to be part of a campus-wide initiative that supports our students, and was happy that the Bookstore had a presence on the committee. Chad worked closely with our office to ensure the T-shirts for the freshman class M photo arrived on time and met our budget. When I asked if they would be delivered on time, he replied, "If not, I will just drive to Fargo, North Dakota and pick them up!"
He was not kidding.
Luckily the shirts did arrive on time and Chad did not have to make a road trip. Instead, he worked with his team to sort more than 3,000 T-shirts by size and deliver them to Bobcat Stadium so they would be ready for students to pick up the day of the photo. This was such an unexpected blessing!
Behind the scenes, Chad has worked tirelessly to build a new storefront, making the Bookstore more welcoming and student-friendly. Students can now rent textbooks with a debit card when they previously had to have a credit card. Additionally, students can rent online through the Bookstore website. Chad has many more great ideas on his radar that will launch in the upcoming months. His dedication and hard work does not go unnoticed by me and I know that my colleagues across campus feel the exact same way. Every person that I talk to is so thankful for his contributions to our institution. Chad will do absolutely anything that supports our students, their success, and their experience at MSU. Thank you, Chad, for being such an amazing colleague!
Nominated by Chelsey Wilson; Received award on October 12, 2017
Terry takes time out of her day to help other faculty, staff and students with chemical analyses. She especially enjoys helping students, both with the analyses and also with the background and importance of those analyses. Instead of being OK with her analytical results, she will re-run samples that don't meet her high standards, improving my ability to deliver definitive research results.
A colleague notes that Terry is a stellar research associate because she possesses both field and lab expertise; she has soil sampling, observation and description skills; can fix lab and field equipment; can respond to medical emergencies; and has produced thousands of robust soil analyses in support of research.
As shown by Terry's smile in the accompanying picture, Terry's cheeriness and positive attitude is infectious, making her delightful to work with, and making me want to strive for her level of excellence, curiosity and positivity.
Nominated by Clain Jones; Received award on October 4, 2017
Registrar's Office, MSU-Northern
From Day One as my coworker, I have been in awe of Michelle. She learned her job in minimal time; she's incredibly organized and her phone skills are to die for! When training my student-workers, I tell them to watch Michelle on the phone because that's how I want them to handle phone calls. She's the uber-proficient worker that everyone wants in their office. She inspires me to do better and try harder.
Michelle loves the students and she's proud of each and every one for seeking a college education. She'll set aside whatever she is working on to talk to a student, walk them to another office to show them the way or to assist or explain a procedure. She is the caring role model that students seek out when they are having a bad day. When former students call, they are astonished that Michelle remembers them and asks how they are doing, praising them if they are still attending a school and scolding them if they are calling while they are driving.
Michelle is a gem in our office and a treasure for Northern!
Nominated by Jane Stuart; Received award on September 27, 2017
International Recruitment and Admission Team, MSU-Bozeman
Megan, Yujian (Ivy) and David are the people who work behind the scenes to bring diversity to MSU's community.
They travel around the world to recruit talented students from different countries. They stay awake at night to be able to contact international overseas partners who live in totally different time zones. They are the first people we, international students, get to meet. They are culturally sensitive and understand the challenges that students from different countries may face and they try to make things easier for us.
The international recruitment and admissions team (IRA) is a great asset for MSU because of its contribution to increasing global engagement in the community of Bozeman. IRA facilitates participation of international students in school visits and community conversations that bring world cultures closer to the Bozeman community.
We nominated the IRA team because we had so many challenges as international students upon our arrival. Without the help of these people, our experiences would have been harder. They helped us financially and socially; they listened to us and made us their friends.
We are glad to have Megan, Yujian and David at MSU!
Nominated by Hanan Alkalaji; Received award on September 20, 2017
EHHD Office of Field Placement and Licensure, MSU-Bozeman
Rosemary Madero joined the College of Education, Health and Human Development and the Field Placement Office in fall 2016. Replacing a 20-year veteran is a tall order, but Rosemary quickly took ownership of her new position. What could have resulted in a serious slowdown of licensing Montana's new teachers became a nearly seamless transition for new graduates and stakeholders alike. Not only has Rosemary made the office an open and welcoming place just by rearranging and working to get the office painted, she has done an incredible job of creating positive relationships with the education department and beyond. It is clear just by walking by Rosemary's office that she cares deeply about students and that she will do anything to help them with their practicum, field and student teaching placements.
The MSU Office of Field Placement and Licensure serves a larger constituency than just Montana State undergraduates. Daily, dozens of phone calls and emails from across our state and country bombard Rosemary, each caller hoping for the easiest possible route to a Montana teaching license or new endorsement. Rosemary is always patient, kind and clear as she explains the complexities of licensing to those who are surprised by its rigor. Rosemary does all aspects of her job very well and with a smile on her face -- from the administrative work that can sometimes be considered mundane to speaking with students and other entities about what is needed for their placements in the schools.
The Dean's office had a Project SEARCH intern in the spring and Rosemary did an amazing job of working with her to ensure she had work to do that fits best with our intern's skills. Rosemary took it upon herself to create a positive relationship with our intern and to spend time with her every Tuesday morning.
Rosemary has a kind heart, a big smile and is motivated to make other people's days better and brighter, and is therefore a perfect candidate for the Pure Gold Award.
Nominated by Kayte Kaminski (and Field Placement Colleagues; Received award on September 13, 2017
Health Sciences, MSU-Great Falls
Dr. Cherie McKeever is a tenured anatomy and physiology faculty member at Great Falls College MSU and a master in actively engaging her students. She is Pure Gold in her use of service learning to make Great Falls a safer and healthier community.
Her passion lies with victims of domestic, child, and sexual abuse. Dr. McKeever sees the effects of these crimes on her students. She had a vision to take action to fight the rising statistics of child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, human trafficking, and addiction.
In 2015, Dr. McKeever and her students took action and organized the first "NoMore Violence" event. Today, NoMore Violence is a seven-day event with multiple presentations each day. The event draws national, state, and local speakers to audiences from across the region. Some of this year's speakers included Governor Steve Bullock, Children's Justice Bureau Chief Dana Toole, Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly and District Judge Greg Pinski.
Dr. McKeever inspires students, faculty, and campus personnel; community health and legal professionals; enforcement agents; nonprofit agency directors and community leaders; and family members to come together to learn more, share resources and experiences, and create action plans to address these crimes and loss of human potential.
Nominated by Susan Wolff; Received award on September 6, 2017