Gary Amundson

College of Business, MSU-Billings

Mr. Gary Amundson has been an instructor in the College of Business for 17 years. During this period, he has transitioned himself from the traditional classroom setting into a leader of the online delivery format for the college. He is currently the one and only online advisor for the college with over 100 advisees assigned to him.

Gary is one of two members of our campus that serves on the interuniversity benefits committee which requires him to meet in Helena several times each year. Each and every time he travels on official university business, he ensures that his classes are covered.

Gary manages the internship program for the college. All employers of interns in Yellowstone County can expect a personal visit from Gary Amundson at some point during the semester. He wants to know first hand 'how our students are performing.'

Gary has been recognized by his students on numerous occasions over the years. One of the most recent recognitions was the "Outstanding Faculty Award" for 2011-2012 presented by the Associated Students of MSUB.

Gary is held in high regard by his former students. Numerous students, some graduated over a decade ago, have made special trips back to the college just to see 'how Gary is doing.' It takes something special to inspire that kind of respect and memory.

As a colleague, I use Gary as my professional benchmark. Each semester Gary and I compare our "Overall Instructor Quality" on the Student Assessment of Teaching evaluations. If I can get close to his score, I must be doing something right.

Finally, he likes to advertise that he's been a member of the MSU Quarterback Club for many, many years. He is also a Bozeman alum. We have 'a house divided' but only by 120 miles or so.

Nominated by Brian Gurney; Received award on January 14, 2016

Tom Fischer

Research Centers (SARC), MSU-Bozeman

Every college, every department, every facility at Montana State University has a "go-to" person that keeps things running smoothly (both literally and figuratively) and keeps people working together. At the Southern Agricultural Research Center near Huntley, that person is Tom Fischer. A graduate of NDSU with a degree in soil science, Tom has served MSU and SARC for over 32 years in various capacities. His greatest impact has come from his serving as "Farm Foreman" of SARC since 1998.

For the past 18 years, he has been responsible for all general farm operations and maintenance of the facility. Unofficially, he often takes on the responsibility of the caring and feeding of the research center's Ph.D. project leaders, making sure the research agenda is served first and that all field research is deployed in an efficient manner. He routinely serves as adviser to the research technicians and support staff, most of whom have degrees more advanced than his own. He is tireless in mentoring, always willing to share his knowledge, leads by example, and possesses a remarkable degree of patience that can only be described as biblical. He has been most instrumental in resurrecting this facility from the burned-out hulk it became during the dark days of closure from 1995 to 1998 to the modern research center that functions today as part of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station in serving MSU's land-grant mission. He is most influential with the youngest and least experienced of SARC's employees, the part-time and student labor employees who have little or no experience in the workforce and seldom understand the importance of developing a positive work ethic at this stage in their lives.

In addition to his responsibilities to MSU, he is a devout husband, father, grandfather, U.S. Army veteran, and follower of his faith. Tom has been an inspiration to all he has worked with at the Southern Agricultural Research Center. We are lucky to have him as our colleague/friend.
Nominated by Ken Kephart; Received award on January 20, 2016

Marty Alberson

MSU-Billings Facilities Services, MSU-Billings

Marty consistently goes "above and beyond" working at the MSU-Billings Library (aka the Temple of Knowledge!) by knowing all staff members' names, including student employees, and greeting many library patrons by name as well. Recently, a plumbing issue required difficult and time-consuming cleanup efforts, and Marty responded positively, even cheerfully, to the task.

Marty demonstrates a keen eye for detail, identifying maintenance needs and facilitating needed repairs, and times his work perfectly so as not to disrupt scholarly research. Finally, he makes academic contributions to the library by recommending materials to support student needs.

Maintaining open lines of communication between custodial staff, other Facilities Services personnel, and library personnel can be challenging, but Marty is open and frank in his interactions, diplomatically advancing the work of the university by tying together these functions. His initiative is inspiring. Recently, following a storm, he saw an immediate need and cleaned a busy public area singlehandedly. He made recommendations for creating a "hygiene" station designed to improve the library's learning environment.

Marty inspires the library staff and all who come into his orbit by his irrepressible positive attitude, his relentless tenacity, and his unstoppable commitment to improving the environment for staff and students.
Nominated by Brent Roberts; Received award on January 27, 2016

Connie Lange

University Communications, MSU-Bozeman

As the office manager in University Communications, Connie Lange assumes a diverse set of responsibilities for the department, from managing the MSU Today email that she sends out to the campus community three times a week, to ensuring that paperwork is submitted to the appropriate offices accurately and completely, to providing invaluable administrative support and answering questions about guidelines for employee searches. Many might find such a wide range of responsibilities to be daunting, yet Connie has taken the time to learn the ins and outs of all of these systems and procedures, and she brings a high level of knowledge and expertise to the position.

Connie plays an important role in keeping our office functioning smoothly, and she does it with such ease that I think most of us don't even recognize all that she contributes. She is truly an asset to University Communications and to Montana State University.

Thank you, Connie-you are Pure Gold!

Nominated by Anne Cantrell; Received award on February 3, 2016

Susan  Wolff

, MSU-Great Falls

Susan Wolff is the CEO/Dean of Great Falls College MSU. The following is her Pure Gold Award nomination submitted by President Waded Cruzado.

This week, Montana Governor Steve Bullock named Dr. Wolff the 2015 Mike Malone Montana Educator of the year by the Montana Ambassadors for her outstanding accomplishments and excellence in the field of education and leadership in workforce development.

A 1975 graduate of Montana State University (she is a Bobcat!), Dr. Wolff came to Great Falls College in 2012 from the Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles, Ore. Since her arrival at Great Falls College MSU, she is credited with her tireless work with area chambers of commerce, business and industry to understand their workforce needs and with K-12 and other educational partners to provide learning opportunities for students of all ages.

Dr. Wolff evidences a passion to provide opportunities for others. Students, professors, staff and members of the Great Falls community frequently comment on her enthusiastic work to stimulate economic growth and diversification and workforce and community development. She is masterful at establishing collaborations and partnerships that promote relevant and affordable education for the Great Falls region and across the state. Above all, Dr. Wolff believes in every individual's talents and works hard to help realize his or her potential.

Dr. Wolff will receive the award at the Montana Ambassadors conference, which will be held in Great Falls on March 10.

Congratulations, Dr. Wolff!

Nominated by Waded Cruzado; Received award on February 10, 2016