Montana State University

Pure Gold Recipients

Susan Benne

Susan Benne

Study Abroad, MSU-Bozeman

Whenever I ask Susan Benne for help, whether it is educationally or personally related, she always makes herself available to listen in on your problems, and 100% of the time, sorts them out. She is not just a teacher, but also a friend. I've heard remarkable encounters from fellow students regarding the guidance and assistance from Susan Benne.

Susan Benne is all about the campus community. She thrives to share the joy that can be experienced from studying abroad. Not only has she helped countless exchange students find their way here in Bozeman, but she also is eager to invite others, fellow MSU students, to embark on their own journey abroad. She welcomes anyone into the program regardless of their history and tries to make it work for them. She is always present and full of life at community gatherings and sends numerous emails in order to get a crowd involved socially. My favorite thing about Susan is that she listens to what you have to say and gives a genuine response. Constructive criticism is always hard to give but great to receive, and Susan knows how to give it.

As an international student, it can be extremely nerve racking arriving in unfamiliar territory not knowing a soul. The beginning of exchange was an extremely stressful time for me! When your main priority is making new friends and settling in, but the stress of enrolling in class and become familiar with a new campus is holding you back, it can be a daunting experience. Whenever I was too overwhelmed by coming abroad, Susan Benne went out of her way to calm me down and make me feel at home. Her constant guidance and advice saved me time and energy and most of all allowed me to enjoy my time in Bozeman.

I've not come across a more helpful and caring role model here at MSU or at UWA back in Australia than Susan Benne. She is more than deserving of this award and is "pure gold!"
Nominated by Lachlan McLeod; Received award on March 13, 2013

Paul Birkeland

Paul Birkeland

Residence Life/University Food Service, MSU-Bozeman

Paul Birkeland is the Executive Catering Manager with University Food Services. Paul has an extraordinary vision when it comes to planning and catering events; he is truly one of the best at what he does, and Montana State University is lucky to have him.

Catering an event is so much more than just providing food; the presentation and d├ęcor add tremendously to the energy and ambiance of an event, and Paul nails it every time. For several years, our office has had the pleasure of working with him to provide catering for different workshops, programs, and large lecture events, and he goes above and beyond every single time. Recently, we asked Paul for his help designing a menu for The White House Project, and for students and staff alike, he was a pleasure to work with. Paul is the type of guy who always greets you with a warm welcome and a willingness to go beyond expectations of him. On the day of the event, Paul even arrived early, before our own staff, to start setting up tables.

On behalf of the MSU Leadership Institute, we would like to thank Paul for everything he has done for us, and the larger campus community.
Nominated by Kela Bergren; Received award on January 23, 2013

Mary Kay Bonilla

Mary Kay Bonilla

Human Resources, MSU-Great Falls

It is with great pleasure that we nominate Mary Kay Bonilla for MSU Pure Gold.

Mary Kay Bonilla, executive director of human resources at GFC MSU, has been wearing three large leadership hats for much of the last half of 2012 into early 2013. In addition to providing exemplary leadership for human resources at the college and for state-wide task forces, she accepted the position of acting supervisor for the maintenance department after the chief financial officer retired in May 2012. At the beginning of fall semester, the assistant dean of Student Services stepped down from her position at GFC MSU to take a new position in another state. While the search for her replacement ensued, Mary Kay eagerly stepped in as the acting supervisor for all of the student services departments for approximately six months until a replacement was hired.

Mary Kay took on the additional role as acting supervisor for Student Services with enthusiasm and took the time to learn as much as she could about the various parts of Student Services to provide our staff and students the best leadership possible. She provided input and support to various activities on our campus related to recruitment, matriculation, and advising. She also provided guidance for student conduct, discipline and student grievances, ensured that all student service programs were in compliance, and supervised all of the personnel in Student Services.

While providing supervision for the maintenance department, the college completed the construction of a child care center and worked closely with the company that was hired to provide the curriculum and care.

As the managers of Student Services, we want to recognize Mary Kay for being a pleasure to work with and her patience and willingness to go above and beyond has been an inspiration to us all. With that, we nominate Mary Kay Bonilla. She is definitely PURE GOLD!
Nominated by Student Services Staff; Received award on March 6, 2013

Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown

Extended University, MSU-Bozeman

Lisa Brown is a staff member of the MSU-Bozeman campus. The following is her Pure Gold Award nomination submitted by faculty members Bob Peterson and Scott Powell.

Lisa is the point of contact and nexus of the new online graduate program in environmental science (http://eu.montana.edu/online/degrees/environmental-masters/). She has worked tirelessly to help us launch this new program. As program manager at Extended University and with her extensive experience, Lisa has helped us to create a timeline and business plan and manage the various accounts associated with the program. For the faculty who teach courses in the program, she has been instrumental in setting up the curriculum, arranging instructional training, created D2L course shells, managing student evaluations of the courses, and answering many, many questions.

As instrumental as Lisa has been to the program leaders and faculty, she has been even more invaluable to the students, many of whom are place-bound working professionals around the world. With her positive attitude, Lisa makes them feel comfortable and solidly part of the MSU community. Several students have told us that Lisa "knows all and does all." That pretty much sums it up! Their success in the program will be due, in part, to Lisa's close involvement with them.

Without Lisa's dedication and constantly positive attitude, we simply wouldn't have an online graduate program in environmental sciences at MSU that is as efficient, effective, and growing at such an ambitious pace as it is. Because of her exceptional qualifications and commitment to the program, we nominate Lisa for the Pure Gold Award!
Nominated by Bob Peterson and Scott Powell; Received award on April 17, 2013

Corey Gramer

Corey Gramer

Auxiliary Services RLUFS, MSU-Bozeman

Corey is dish room supervisor at Miller Dining Hall, but he is so much more to Miller. Corey always keeps busy at work and does his job exemplarily. Above and beyond that, he will help with any extra jobs that need doing, work any overtime that is asked of him, and he does it with a smile. We can always count on Corey for anything.

Outside of being a great employee, Corey also goes out of his way in taking it upon himself, on his breaks, to be a good steward of the environment. Unfortunately Miller does not currently have a recycling plan for our aluminum cans. During his breaks, Corey collects the cans and takes them to be recycled on his own time. I remember once, on a very cold wintery day, Corey rode his bike to work on his day off, because we had a large amount of cans that he didn't want to see go to the landfill. I saw him riding away in the blustery wind with one large bag in each hand steering his bike, a modern day superhero of sustainability. In order for you to understand the truly significant amount of aluminum that is being recycled by Corey, you should be aware that Miller can use up to 70 one-gallon cans a day.

Corey also volunteers for numerous causes including traveling to Tanzania two summers ago for humanitarian purposes.

Corey is an inspiration to all, not only to be a better worker but also to be kind to the environment.
Nominated by Jill Flores; Received award on February 6, 2013

Scott Harris

Scott Harris

College of Business, MSU-Billings

Dr. Scott Harris is an essential part of Montana State University Billings ("MSUB"). Not only does Dr. Harris dedicate his time to supporting all student-athletes as the MSUB Faculty Athletic Representative ("FAR"), but he also commits himself to educating the many students of the College of Business ("COB") as an associate professor of economics.

I have had the benefit to experience the profound impact Dr. Harris has had at MSUB, and in the community of Billings. From my personal experience, Dr. Harris has always worked well above and beyond what is required/expected for either of his roles at MSUB.

First, as a former student-athlete, it has always been clear Dr. Harris is one of the strongest advocates for student-athletes at MSUB. I experienced his advocating first hand. Most recently, Dr. Harris helped me receive the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, which is an award given to a very small number of student athletes throughout the country. This scholarship included a very lengthy and detailed application process. This alone was above and beyond. However, four years after the completion of this nomination process, Dr. Harris continued to see this application to the very end. Undoubtedly, Dr. Harris is the only reason I have been successful in receiving this scholarship four years after the original nomination process.

Secondly, as a student in Dr. Harris's classroom, Dr. Harris is a critical part of the education that occurs at the COB. No matter how many times I have contacted Dr. Harris over the years, he has always been more than willing to help in every situation.

Finally, I am aware of Dr. Harris' involvement in the community on a variety of volunteer fronts, including leading Little League softball administration for a number of years. Dr. Harris made a huge commitment to the youth in this rather thankless role.

I can truly think of no person more deserving of this award. In all aspects, Dr. Harris truly embodies the definition of Pure Gold.
Nominated by Justin Hoskins; Received award on March 20, 2013

Billy Horne

Billy Horne

Facilities Services, Museum of the Rockies, MSU-Bozeman

Billy Horne is an irreplaceable member of the Museum of the Rockies (MOR) team. Billy not only keeps the museum looking its best, but he always goes above and beyond his duties and finds ways to make everyone's job at the museum a little easier every day. From the moment we each walk in the door of the museum in the morning through the end of the day, Billy lifts our spirits with smiles, jokes, and his positive spirit. He is always there in a pinch to help set up events and programs and happily cleans up the messes after (often times before we get the chance to go help him). Billy's soft spoken demeanor, his humor, his patience, and his dedication to our staff make him an irreplaceable part of the MOR family.

Billy has a heart of gold. He constantly checks in with us to make sure we have what we need to make our day a little better -- something that is not part of his job description, but instead an indicator of his love for the museum and his colleagues. Billy knows most of the staff's birthdays and quietly makes sure to recognize each of us on our special day. Billy is notorious for sharing his time, his support, and sometimes even his lunch!

Billy is an inspiration because he not only does his job well, but he does it with a smile on his face. We have never once heard a single complaint come out of his mouth. His outlook on work and life is refreshing. He is compassionate, considerate and goes above and beyond the call of duty. He is an asset to the Museum of the Rockies, and we are so lucky to have such a kind and gentle soul as a part of our team. If you're ever having a bad day, come over to the museum and eat lunch with Billy. You'll be smiling for the rest of the day. Billy Horne, on behalf of the entire MOR staff, we are excited to share with the rest of Montana State that you're Pure Gold!
Nominated by Nikki Dixon-Foley; Received award on April 10, 2013

Maury Irvine

Maury Irvine

Museum of the Rockies Volunteer, MSU-Bozeman

Maury Irvine, part of MSU's graduating class of 1950, is an exemplary Montana State alumnus. Sixty-three years after graduating, Maury is still contributing to the MSU community, with over 7,000 hours of volunteer service to the Museum of the Rockies.

After serving in WW II, graduating with his doctorate in physics from Lehigh University and working for Bell Labs, Maury has spent the last 20 years volunteering at the Museum of the Rockies and continues to give. Last year, he gave over 80 guided tours as a museum docent and is always one of the first individuals to volunteer to do more. Often, when school groups call to set up a reservation, they specifically ask if Maury can give their Dinosaur Hall Tour.

Maury is an inspiration because he illustrates that enthusiasm has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. Maury has a passion for ongoing education, and every day he comes into the museum he espouses that joy for education to our visitors. One couple who came to the museum wrote up an evaluation form on their visit. Within it, they said, "Maury is a living treasure," and I couldn't agree more. MSU is incredibly fortunate to have such an exceptional alumnus and volunteer, and I'm lucky enough to work with him.
Nominated by Blair Speed; Received award on February 27, 2013

Tom Langmo

Tom Langmo

Office of Admissions, MSU-Bozeman

The admissions evaluators have been extremely fortunate to have Tom Langmo as our student worker for almost three years because he is the epitome of Pure Gold: exceptionally reliable, friendly, good-natured, and organized. Tom has done a variety of projects for us, from filing countless documents that come in throughout the year to logging high school transcripts into Banner. Without him, there is no way that we could do our jobs and stay sane year-round! Tom has also helped train new student workers in our area to be as efficient as he is.

In addition to helping the Admissions Office function, Tom is pursuing the Master of Professional Accountancy Program having just graduated with a bachelor's in business accounting. He participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through the College of Business, where he prepared tax returns for low-income individuals in Bozeman and in remote parts of Alaska. He is also a Student Success mentor and tutor, and TeleCat coordinator.

Tom's involvement and commitment to MSU is truly extraordinary. He has made a special impression with everyone in Admissions due to his work ethic and personality. Please consider him for Pure Gold!
Nominated by Sara Browne, Alanna Brown, Di and Becky Roeder; Received award on February 13, 2013

Kristen Lavelle

Kristen Lavelle

Sociology and Anthropology, MSU-Bozeman

I am so grateful that Dr. Kristen Lavelle is my adviser because she is so candid and helpful with her advice. Discussing graduation requirements and grad school applications can be incredibly intimidating, but Dr. Lavelle has walked me through the whole process with the pros and cons to each decision I am contemplating.

Not only is she helpful in discussing the ideas that I have, but she is also incredibly proactive in finding other opportunities for sociology majors and was effective in identifying ones of interest to me. Dr. Lavelle fosters an environment in which I and others feel comfortable coming to her for all sorts of advice. I am constantly stopping by her office on the way to or from classes to say hello or discuss all of my "existential crises," and she is always open to hearing my issues and working with me to identify solutions and a plan of action.

The last time I went to go talk to Dr. Lavelle I was relatively distraught after a long day and was hoping to meet soon. We were unable to set a time during the week so she agreed to meet me on a Saturday because she could sense the urgency in my stress.

Dr. Lavelle is more than willing to go above and beyond and this is why she is pure gold. She is constantly thinking about the students and helping out in any way she can. From her running compilation of opportunities for sociology majors to the check up emails she sends, Dr. Lavelle is great about being an accessible adviser. She is pure gold and should be recognized for all of her efforts to help students succeed!
Nominated by Lindsay Murdock; Received award on February 20, 2013

Ana Murphy

Ana Murphy

Land Resources & Environmental Sciences, MSU-Bozeman

Ana Murphy is a classic behind-the-scenes wizard. As an accountant for a department with approximately two dozen faculty and 200 undergraduate and graduate students, Ana is responsible for the auditable processing of nearly countless travel reimbursements, purchases, and the smooth anastamosing of a staggering number of money streams.

Even as meritorious as she is for slogging through a Sisyphean "must--not just to--do" list every day, what I most admire about Ana is her focus. (Although I have personally tried to distract her from her work, she is tenacious and goal-driven and often counters me with "I have to finish 'X' by 5 pm.")

One recent incident in particular speaks to why Ana deserves "Pure Gold" recognition: one morning I told Ana I needed to purchase an oven for "baking" soil samples, one identical to that owned by another colleague in the department. Ana nonchalantly mentioned recalling the approximate price of the oven--somehow retrieving this number from among the millions that must pass through her brain every year. I placed my order, with Ana's help, but behind the scenes--and unprompted--Ana had looked up my colleague's order from a different supplier. When I expressed surprise at how expensive my order had been, Ana handed me a photocopy of my colleague's order for the identical oven--for $1300 less! I hurriedly called the supplier where I'd placed my order and asked if they'd price match. And they did.

So in just one typical hour in one typical workday, Ana managed to save me, my department, my college, my institution, and my state (our motto, after all: "Oro y plata")... the value of 0.8 ounces of actual gold.

Although this financial savings may seem trivial or insignificant, I believe it speaks volumes of Ana's steadfast and broad commitment and contribution to our department.
Please support this nomination of Ana Murphy for a "Pure Gold" award.
Nominated by Tony Hartshorn; Received award on January 9, 2013

Monica Patterson

Monica Patterson

Extension Yellowstone Co. EFNEP, MSU-Bozeman

Monica has been a nutrition educator working with low income families through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for 25 years. During that time she made home visits to families teaching them how to stretch food dollars, plan and prepare nutritious meals and understand the food guidance system. Monica still continues with the same enthusiasm she has had all along. She has changed with the changing of food guides and food pyramids to food plates. She has seen classes go from individual lessons in homes to groups lessons at community locations. She has weathered teaching style and curriculum changes. During her 25 years, she has accepted change and her focus has been on the well being and learning of the family.

Monica never forgets that MSU and Extension are the backbone of our program, and she is sure to tell all participants about that connection.

Monica is always upbeat when talking about her classes. Even though recruiting can be dismal and unrewarding, she carries forth the idea that she has something to offer and low income families will benefit from the time she gives them. Monica is an inspiration not only to me but to our entire program. She is proof that longevity in a job does not mean burn out; it is just the opposite for Monica. She encourages us all to accept new ideas and to take on each new challenge with a smile and enthusiasm.

Monica Patterson is Pure Gold!
Nominated by Phyllis Hansen; Received award on March 27, 2013

Greg Stivers

Greg Stivers

Advising and Career Center, MSU-Great Falls

I am happy to nominate Greg Stivers for MSU Pure Gold.

Greg is an indispensable part of the Great Falls College MSU Advising and Career Center. He not only dedicates himself to supporting our two-year students but also works as a transfer specialist to help our students who want to continue on to a four-year degree with MSU-Northern. He always goes above and beyond for his students from helping with applications, figuring out the transition to Northern, writing letters of recommendation, helping to calm their anxiety, and just listening and being there when they need him.

Working with Greg, I have been given the opportunity to witness his unwavering commitment to his students. His positive energy and warm personality give him the ability to relate and build strong relationships with his students and colleagues. His ability to stay upbeat, in what can sometimes be a busy and stressful position, helps keep our Advising and Career Center a welcoming and fun environment that students and staff enjoy being a part of.

His zest for life and passion for education and helping his students is motivating and uplifting to those around him. He is definitely PURE GOLD.
Nominated by Jamie Hauer; Received award on January 16, 2013

Becky (Friend) Van Zee

Becky (Friend) Van Zee

Mathematical Sciences, MSU-Bozeman

This is a nomination of Becky Friend as Pure Gold! Becky is an amazing asset to the Department of Mathematical Sciences and MSU. Her job as our business/operations manager includes the multiple roles of accountant, grants and contracts fiscal manager, director of development and office manager.

Through all of her many diverse tasks, Becky is always gracious, polite, and friendly. She is extremely outgoing, always answers questions thoroughly, and interacts well with strangers. She is a wealth of information. With a quick smile, she is always willing to serve department employees, MSU students and staff, and community members. If a question arises that she can't answer, she is quick to diligently seek out the information. She also interacts with many prospective students and their families, projecting a very positive image of our department and MSU. Every time I hear her cheerful voice I am reminded that we are here to serve the citizens of Montana in just that way.

Becky manages all fiscal matters in our department. This includes multiple budgets covering over 100 employees (students, hourly employees, office staff, and faculty), over $1 million in grant expenditures for many PIs, and the management of numerous development funds from dozens of donors. She maintains a perfectly balanced budget in all of these different venues, in spite of constant interruptions. She works with many offices across campus, attempting to accomplish what we need while being sensitive to their circumstances.

In particular, when I make a mistake (which I do all the time) or forget to report to her a commitment I have made, she is gracious, never placing blame with me (though I deserve it). She merely tackles the task of cleaning up the mess that I have caused. What a wonderful colleague. Becky epitomizes the very essence of Pure Gold at MSU!
Nominated by Ken Bowers; Received award on April 3, 2013

Caroline Zimmerman

Caroline Zimmerman

University Communications, MSU-Bozeman

Caroline was recommended as someone who might help me find the best (most cost effective) solution for purchasing HR New Employee folders. I was so impressed with her knowledge and her willingness to research local, state and national vendors to find the best solution for us. As I only asked for names of printers she might know, I was overwhelmed by the extent of her efforts. She made numerous inquiries and provided me with multiple options and quotes. Once we made a decision, she made the arrangements with the MSU graphic staff to get our proof ready and followed-up by placing the order.

I also have to add, no matter how many times I called her with "What Ifs" she was pleasant, helpful and supportive of the challenges of getting multiple people on my end to agree to a solution.

Her "Customer First" attitude, even when the person is not a customer, is a great example for all of us to follow. As for me, when it is the end of the day or I am busy and the phone rings, I remember when I needed assistance and how good it felt to have a friendly, dedicated and helpful person pick up the phone. I challenge myself to live up to her example.
Nominated by Elizabeth Calcagni; Received award on January 30, 2013

Recognize Those Who Inspire

Recognize Those Who Inspire