Current Pure Gold Recipients
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
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
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
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
Chemistry and Biochemistry, MSU-Bozeman
You may have heard the old saying that if you want something done quickly, find the busiest person you can to do it. Jonathan Hilmer is that person. He is a tireless worker who is always overscheduled, yet somehow finds time to help undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff alike. As the Project Coordinator in the Proteomics, Metabolomics, and Mass Spectrometry Facility on the MSU campus in Bozeman, Dr. Hilmer is one of the many behind-the-scenes staff members, without whom, MSU's research enterprise and student training would not function. In addition to training students and conducting sophisticated research projects, Jonathan oversees millions of dollars in instrumentation that are relied upon by research groups in every college on the MSU campus and across the Montana University System. In addition, he uses his knowledge of data management and storage to help faculty, research groups, and even the Information Technology Center.
Jonathan Hilmer, your enthusiasm for your job and pursuit of excellence are an inspiration. You are Pure Gold.
Nominated by Brian Bothner; Received award on February 24, 2016
Family and Graduate Housing, MSU-Bozeman
"Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others"- John Maxwell.
Shardai is a great leader not only for the office but also for the tenants that come into the office. Shardai is the Housing Coordinator for Family and Graduate Housing and she is an amazing person to work with. She always has a positive outlook on things and is willing to help with anything that comes up. Along with being the Housing Coordinator, she also supervises the front office student assistants. She very much empowers those around her, especially her students. She is encouraging and helpful when you don't understand or if you just have too much on your plate. She is a great leader in that she helps you learn and works with you until she is sure you get it.
Besides being a supervisor and co-worker, she bleeds blue and gold into the tenants and community with a warm welcoming smile whenever someone comes in or a happy upbeat greeting when answering the phone. She embodies the Pure Gold atmosphere by wholeheartedly supporting the spirit of Montana State University in everything she does.
Nominated by Kristi Kruger; Received award on March 30, 2016
College of Nursing, MSU-Bozeman
Janet Smith is an extraordinary instructor. She goes above and beyond to meet the needs of her students on an individual basis. She shows true compassion as both a nurse and a nurse educator and is a wonderful example and leader in the nursing profession. She is truly committed to helping her students succeed and her hard work deserves the utmost recognition and respect.
Thank you Janet for always challenging us to live up to our potential and encouraging us to improve. Your guidance will be a cornerstone in our nursing education and will lead us to be wonderful nurses.
Nominated by Rita Bozorth; Received award on February 17, 2016
University Studies, MSU-Bozeman
Emmanuel Dorsey, a second semester freshman psychology major from Washington, became one of our office heroes today, the first day of spring semester. Just after 9 a.m., he came to the Academic Advising Center with a bag full of money he found next to the vending machines in Gaines Hall on the Bozeman campus. He asked that we help him return the money to the rightful owner.
Manny's action reminded our office that each of us has the ability to touch the lives of others in a positive way. Students like Manny are a large part of what makes Montana State University so special. All of us at University Studies are proud to live and work among individuals like Manny who, through acts of kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness, make our world a better place.
Thank you, Manny. We think you are PURE GOLD!
Nominated by Paige Wyatt; Received award on March 23, 2016
Museum of the Rockies / Department of Paleontology, MSU-Bozeman
Carrie Ancell is a graduate of Montana State University and has worked at the Museum of the Rockies for the past 30 years as the senior preparator of paleontology. As the lead technician and trainer in our paleontology labs, her work has touched the lives of many MSU students and staff for the past three decades. Many of the students she has trained have gone on to successful careers as faculty and research scientists in paleontology.
For the past few years Carrie has concentrated her expertise on training the staff at the Mifune Dinosaur Museum, MOR's sister museum in Kumamoto, Japan. Her work there has played an integral part in helping the Mifune Dinosaur Museum popularize their mission, which inspired museum and town officials to secure funding for the construction of a new museum in 2014. As a member of the Kumamoto Montana Club, and the Kumamoto Montana Natural Science Museums Association, her inspirational work in Montana's sister state of Kumamoto has significantly elevated MSU's global community outreach.
Carrie is a very thoughtful, fun, and caring person that everyone loves to work with whether on campus, or in other parts of the world. She is truly "Pure Gold" at Montana State University!
Nominated by Patrick Leiggi; Received award on April 20, 2016
Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, MSU-Bozeman
Keith is a primary professor for Mechanical Engineering Technology. He goes above and beyond and he is a professor that you can go to for just about any subject that MET's take and he is willing to help out. He is always working hard on developing new classes for the program as well as teaching his other primary classes. He is the hardest teacher that I have ever had, however this is not a bad thing. He always challenges his students and promotes learning through troubleshooting and working through the problems. Many of my classmates have the same type of feeling about him, but we all agree that he is probably the greatest teacher we all have ever had.
Keith has inspired me to continue to pursue a masters and possibly beyond. I hope that in the future I may be able to return to MSU to pursue a teaching career to follow in Keith's steps. He is an awesome person and inspirational teacher.
Nominated by Jason Jackson; Received award on March 9, 2016
Financial Aid, MSU-Northern
Cindy Small has worked at MSU Northern for over 20 years, and is currently the Financial Aid Director. We are blessed to have her as a supervisor.
Cindy inspires us to be a more caring individuals every day. She has repeatedly shown that she cares about us and our coworkers as individuals, not just employees. When we’re having a rough day, she always asks if there is something she can do to help, and will drop what she's doing to follow through with her offer of assistance.
As a Financial Aid professional, Cindy is dedicated to ensuring the success of our students by going above and beyond to help them secure their aid for each academic year. She strives to improve and streamline our processes, and encourages us to do the same. Cindy is always learning, and inspires us to go to conferences, attend webinars, and read everything we can to learn about our ever-changing field.
Besides being a caring individual and dedicated professional, Cindy is extremely invested in our campus community. She supports all the sports teams and programs on campus. She spends every weekend attending events or games (usually multiple games). She enjoys attending the award events, graduations, pinning ceremonies, etc.
We think the students, faculty and staff are lucky to have someone like Cindy, with her experience and dedication, working on their behalf. She shows every day how she is Pure Gold!
Nominated by Sandy Johnsrud; Received award on March 16, 2016
Department of English, MSU-Bozeman
Jill Davis changed my life. Her optimism and enthusiasm for students at MSU is contagious. If anyone deserves the Pure Gold title, it's Jill! She is always available to present and past students. After the death of a student's father, she attended the funeral and gave the student support in their time of need. Even though I took her class semesters ago, Jill is always willing to assist me in furthering my education. She spends hours writing recommendations for students, including me, until the early hours of morning, even when she has a million other things to do. She inspires all she comes in contact with as she passionately shares her life experiences, which gives students a burning desire to make the world a better place.
Jill has an abundance of positive attributes, but her ability to give students the passion to succeed is one of her best qualities. She encourages her students to get involved and discover who they are in the course of the semester. She motivates us to believe in ourselves and that we can fulfill our dreams. She loves her job and is so eager to teach her students what life is all about. Not only did I learn how to write a paper, I learned how to give to others, reach outside of my comfort zone, and know I could accomplish anything I set my mind on. My entire college experience would be completely different if I didn't take that one class from Jill.
She is dedicated to make not only her student's lives better, but the MSU campus and this world. Jill never gives up on anyone or anything. I am not the only one that can attest to her influence in my life. Jill is a well deserving individual of this award.
Nominated by Kailey Grover; Received award on March 2, 2016
CEO/Dean, 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
Health and Human Development, Montana Team Nutrition, MSU-Bozeman
Mary Ann Harris is the "do it all" extraordinaire administrative assistant (part-time) for the Montana Team Nutrition Program in the Department of Health and Human Development. This position is in addition to working part-time as a registered nurse for Benefis Hospital. She brings a breath of fresh air and a cheerful outlook when she enters a room. Maryann is kind, caring, professional, and treats everyone with respect. Mary Ann willingly gives her time to help each and every student who knocks on her door. She makes it a point to welcome new employees, especially student employees, to their position. She is dependable, organized, and efficient and is always willing to go beyond her duties to help meet a deadline or assist a coworker.
Mary Ann works above and beyond typical administrative duties. Her excellent attention to detail is evidenced in the budget reports she creates for six grants each month. She takes it upon herself to critically review these reports, providing valuable assistance with program management. Maryann's hard work and positive attitude help everyone in our office work better! Her outstanding service and commitment to her position provide a strong foundation for our program. She is a loyal Bobcat and proud alumna, making her Pure Gold through and through.
Nominated by Katie Bark; Received award on April 13, 2016
Residents of Hapner Hall 306D, MSU-Bozeman
Mary and Annika are the most welcoming people I've ever met. They accept everyone on our floor and go above and beyond to create an environment in the hall that is unlike any that I could ever imagine. They bring so much spirit and fun to the hall. Although they are not resident advisors, the other girls in the hall and myself look up to them.
Mary and Annika are sophomores at MSU and, knowing what freshman year is like, they befriended and welcomed everyone into their lives as friends. They are always there for when anyone needs support and are selfless in their time. They always look out for the other members of our floor and have a positive outlook on life. Not only that, but they make a positive contribution to the community and to Montana State University as well.
Their service and love do not stop on our floor but spread throughout all of Hapner Hall and into other dorms as well. Their self-sacrifice is so encouraging to see. Whether they are tutoring others in chemistry, Spanish, or calculus, they are always pushing others to learn more and encouraging others to be their best.
Mary is a mentor through the CAP program and Annika is an advocate for sustainability. They impact this earth. They both live in Hapner and have inspired me to strive for greatness on this campus and to get involved. I have jumped on every opportunity to be a part of the Bozeman community because they showed me what life is like when you are actively involved. They inspire me to help and serve others. They really showed me what love is and how to love others well. They are a dynamic duo that subtly impacts our campus.
I truly believe that they are unrecognized superheroes of Hapner Hall. The way they show respect, patience, and gratitude is beyond anything I've ever seen.
It may seem silly to have two students in the dorms be "Pure Gold," but there are many more students on the low-rise side of campus that would agree that their hearts and attitudes towards others is even more pure than gold.
Nominated by Mackenzie Foust; Received award on April 27, 2016
Web and Digital Communications, MSU-Bozeman
I can't say enough about Kaitlyn Goodall and Adam Griffith of the MSU Web team. Being a departmental Web developer myself it is so nice to have a professional, responsive and respectful team to be able to rely on for support.
The team is outstanding in helping keep smaller departments informed of changes, updates and requirements for the MSU Web and CMS (content management system) standards. Being a single developer, it can be very challenging to meet all the needs of my 400+ users, and I don't know how I could do it without Kaitlyn, Adam and the rest of the team. They often take hours out of their busy schedules to help fix or assist with my custom development needs.
Thank you guys!
Nominated by Jay Van Voast; Received award on April 6, 2016