University Studies Staff


Diane Donnelly, M.Ed.


Diane is the Director of University Studies and the Academic Advising Center. When it comes to cross-campus academic advising and curricular issues, Diane shines. She brings energy, knowledge, and expertise. She enjoys the continual contact with students and the variety of courses and faculty. Diane's undergraduate degree is in English Literature, and she received her MEd in Adult and Higher Education from MSU. Diane also received the 2010 National Academic Advising Association Region 8 Administrator of the Year Award.

Shannon Patterson

Shannon Patterson

Administrative Associate

In her role as the Administrative Associate, Shannon is the first person who greets students when they enter the Advising Center. She has worked at MSU since 2008 and brings with her a familiarity of campus with a background in Financial Aid. Prior to working at MSU Shannon lived in Havre and was the Director of Development for St. Jude Thaddeus School and the Administrator for the Hill County Conservation District. Shannon enjoys spending time with her family, golfing, hiking, skiing, and traveling.

Emily Edwards

Emily E. Edwards, M.F.A.

Academic Advising Coordinator, Academic Advisor

Emily Edwards is an academic advisor and the Advising Coordinator for the Academic Advising Center. Originally from a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA, Emily once was an undecided student at Ohio University. After exploring several majors, Emily found her academic niche when she combined her interests of literature and film. From OU, Emily headed to the University of Arizona where she earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Much of her work at MSU over the past eleven years has focused on first-year students and helping them find their path at MSU. When not at work, Emily enjoys reading, watching college and professional sports, camping, cooking, and spending time with her husband.   

Meg Konkel

Meg Konkel, M.F.A.

Seminar Director, Academic Advisor

Meg Konkel is the Director of the First-Year Seminar and an academic advisor in University Studies. Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Meg has spent much of her academic and personal life celebrating interdisciplinary thinking. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Modern Languages and Literature, and then translated her Minor in Art History into a M.F.A. in Interior Design. She lived and practiced commercial design in San Francisco and in the Washington, D.C. area before refocusing her career to teaching; she has enjoyed teaching both in the discipline of Interior Design and in First-Year Seminars ever since. She lives in Bozeman with her husband and her two dogs, and enjoys fishing, hiking, cooking with friends and family, and reading all kinds of great books.

Deb Blanchard

Deborah Blanchard, M.A.

Assistant Seminar Director, Academic Advisor

Deb Blanchard wears a few different hats in the University Studies Dept. as an academic advisor, the Assistant Director of First Year Seminar, and as an instructor in US 101US.  Originally from New Hampshire, Deb and her family have made Bozeman their home for more than 20 years.  Deb first came to MSU as a non-traditional aged student in 2006 and received both her BA in English and MA in English from Montana State University.  During graduate school, she taught WRIT 101 for the English Dept.  She is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Adult and Higher Education at MSU.   As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar Alumni, she has an affinity for researching “stuff” and spends a lot of her free time doing just that – for school and for fun.

Karen Steele

Karen Steele, M.Ed.

National Student Exchange Coordinator, Academic Advisor

Karen is an academic advisor and the Coordinator of the National Student Exchange program. She received her BS in Civil Engineering and her MEd in Curriculum and Instruction both from the University of Colorado. Karen also teaches in the University Studies and Mathematics departments. A little known fact about Karen is that she has lived in eight and traveled to most of the states, which explains her excitement and dedication to sending Montana State students all over the country. Her passion for the outdoors is apparent and she is always planning the next adventure for her husband and two energetic boys.

Denise Malloy

Denise Malloy, M.Ed., JD

Pre-Law, Pre-Med, and General Academic Advisor

Denise Malloy brings a diverse background to her position as an academic advisor in the University Studies department.She received a BS in Education, a MEd in Counseling and a JD from the University of Louisville.Prior to entering law school, Denise was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Western Samoa. In law school, she reignited her passion for writing. Denise’s essays and articles have appeared in national and regional publications. A compilation of her humor columns was recently published. Denise feels extremely fortunate to live, work and play in Big Sky Country with her husband, two teenage boys and her dogs.

Joe Barr

Joe Barr, M.A.

Academic Advisor

Joe Barr is a general academic advisor and works closely with veteran and international students.He received a BA in Modern Languages-French at Montana State University and an MA in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Kansas. He has previously been a pre-med advisor who completed both military and Peace Corps service. Having also taught US 101, CLS 101, and the foundational honors courses, he offers a wealth of background and experience for those seeking academic advising and major exploration.

Sheila Gilbertson

Sheila Gilbertson, M.Ed.

Students-in-Transition Advisor and General Advisor

Sheila Gilbertson is an academic advisor and First Year Seminar instructor for University Studies. She specializes in helping Students in Transition – those who are wanting to change their major but are unsure of what that new major should be.  Originally from Plentywood, Montana, she began her college career as an undeclared, undecided major right here in this very department. She received a BS in Biological Sciences, a minor in Music and a M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Ed Administration, all from MSU. She has worked in various departments across campus, but has found herself right back here where she started. When she isn’t working in the Academic advising center helping students, Sheila is most likely enjoying photography, music, theatre, or simply being an avid fan of her husband and four teenage children.

Mary Noll

Mary Noll, M.A.

Academic Advisor, Director Emerita

Mary began her career in University Studies in 1979 as an intern while completing her master’s degree. During the subsequent 26 years, she served as an academic advisor, taught the First Year Seminar for 12 years, chaired orientation and scholarships, the National Student Exchange Coordinator and was the Assistant Director for six years. During her final five years before retiring in June of 2005, she served as the Director of University Studies. Although Mary continues to stay involved with University Studies as an academic advisor on a part-time basis, she is enjoying retirement with her husband and two dogs hiking, skiing, camping, and visiting grandchildren.

Cara Sabo

Cara Sabo, M.P.A.

Academic Advisor

Cara has both a B.A. in Sociology & an M.P.A. in Public Administration from Montana State University-Bozeman.  Her love of animals, combined with her research interests in anti-animal cruelty methods & Law Enforcement practices, stems from a background catering in service for others--people & animals!  Her current position as Academic Advisor for the Sociology & Anthropology Department & her passion for shaping individual interests into meaningful long-term goals, has provided her with the opportunity to be a part of the University Studies Advising team.

MaryAnn Sojda

MaryAnn Sojda, M.S.

Academic Advisor

MaryAnn joined the staff of University Studies as a part-time academic advisor after retiring from her position as an Associate Teaching Professor with the Department of Mathematical Sciences here at MSU.  She feels fortunate to have the opportunity to continue to work with students on an individual basis and thoroughly enjoys helping students navigate their own path among the many choices on campus.  She earned a BS in Math Education from State University College at Buffalo, NY and an MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Iowa State University.  MaryAnn has taught both high school and college courses in several different states and feels fortunate to have landed in Bozeman at MSU.  She enjoys spending time in the mountains hiking, camping, and cross-country skiing with her husband and two dogs.