Mike Babcock

Psychology, MSU-Bozeman

Mike Babcock shows a tremendous amount of concern for his students. He always goes above and beyond in class and outside of class to help students understand material, and perhaps most important, he makes the learning FUN and interesting!

Mike also participates in a lot of research in his laboratories concerning various psychological fields and behaviors. He works with graduate students on this research.

Mike has inspired me to learn about psychology and fields that I may otherwise have never considered of interest to me. The human brain and overall physiology of how the human body functions is incredibly important to me as an exercise science major.

Because of Mike, I believe that I may want to begin research in the field of human behaviors related to exercise. As a graduating senior, I feel very lucky to have taken one of his classes in my last semester here at MSU because he is perhaps the BEST teacher I have had here at MSU, and I have learned so much already and it's only mid-semester!

Mike deserves to be recognized as PURE GOLD because he is extremely dedicated to his work, very passionate about teaching and research, and he shows and proves tremendous concern for each individual student in his classes!
Nominated by Arielle Richard; Received award on March 19, 2014

Trudy Collins

University Budget Office, MSU-Billings

Trudy Collins is the budget officer at MSU-Billings. In my capacity as the Faculty Association president, I am required to work closely with Ms. Collins and other MSU-Billings administrators on budget and financial issues. Ms. Collins has consistently gone way beyond the extra mile (maybe extra 100 miles in her case) in her willingness to help the faculty understand the myriad arcane budget issues with which we are faced. She anticipates every question we have, and she provides data to all of us (particularly those of us who are numerically illiterate) in a comprehensible and understandable fashion. Never condescending, immensely patient, her willingness to go way above and beyond what is simply required or expected, is positively remarkable and indeed, quite inspiring. She is a ray of sunshine on even the gloomiest of days. Never have I, as a faculty member, felt there was any "us versus them" wall in Ms. Collins's presence, which has too often characterized faculty/administration relationships in the past.

Ms. Collins was instrumental in helping the administration and faculty come to an equitable and fair resolution of the distribution of much-needed funds to address chronic salary inequities this past year. She put in extra time and energy in developing a variety of spreadsheets, different scenarios and a range of options that covered the salaries of over 130 faculty. To me, having witnessed occasionally indifferent staff and faculty over the years, Ms. Collins's ability to go the extra mile, in never anything but an unfailingly positive manner, makes her to me "Pure Gold." I think all of us within the MSU family should take our collective hats off and tip them in Ms. Collins's direction. She is one of those rare gems of an individual (though we seem to have our fair share of them on the MSU side) who consistently delivers exceptional service to our faculty, to our staff, and to our students. I wish we had several dozen more Trudy Collins(es)!!
Nominated by Keith Edgerton; Received award on January 22, 2014

Tawnia Cummings

eLearning, MSU-Great Falls

I received the following letter from a student, and it really hit home the importance of the faculty relationship to student success. Tawnia does the relationship piece and the student success support in a manner that is truly deserving of recognition.

"Dr. Rivenes,

I would like to personally say it was a great privilege to work with Tawnia Cummings this semester. Through a fluke of circumstances, I wound up selecting her class to attend online this semester; and I must say it was the best set of circumstances of which could have occurred.

Tawnia has a wonderful and positive attitude. When speaking with her in person, she reflects a true "go get them" attitude of which I find very motivating given my prior experiences in the military. Her drive to want to get things done and motivation will take her down a long and successful road of teaching.
I know the course was adjusted from previous instruction (a different semester) with little "glitches" along the way; however each one she handled very successfully, and I am grateful for the support she gave... I see some students here in this college lost and unsure, who have trouble maneuvering through the D2L, are unsure of who to ask or where to go, are unsure of how to get from point A to point B in the college, and are unsure where to go for guidance and feeling alone..."

I know the class Tawnia Cummings taught was very helpful and supportive in all of these areas which goes to show that she is PURE GOLD!
Nominated by Teresa Rivenes; Received award on February 19, 2014

Makiko Diehl

Office of International Programs, MSU-Bozeman

Makiko Diehl has many qualities that make her a perfect candidate for the presidential honor of being named pure gold on the MSU campus. Professional, diplomatic, hard-working with amazing attention to detail, and motivated are just a few that immediately come to mind. Students, faculty, staff, homestay families and community members will all agree that these qualities, combined with a great sense of humor, make Makiko an absolute pleasure and inspiration to work with. One example (of many) to demonstrate this fact is that one of our training participants from South Africa named his youngest daughter after Makiko - as she was born shortly after he returned home from a six-week education training program at MSU.

Makiko came to our International Programs office a couple of years ago in search of an internship to complete her capstone project for her undergraduate degree at MSU. She has been such a wonderful addition to our International Training and Special Programs team, that her internship turned into a part-time assistant job that turned into a full time (+) coordinating position. Through Makiko's specialized expertise, we have been able to increase our programming abilities in Japan, as she has been able to help coordinate everything from the program proposal phase all the way through to translating final reports into Japanese. She has also helped us to expand into many other areas of science programming through her networking capabilities on campus. Makiko believes deeply in her role in making the world a better place, and it shows through in every detail of her work. As elegantly as I can, without Makiko’s help, here is the direct translation into Japanese: 純金 (junkin), meaning pure [solid] gold.
Nominated by Janelle Rasmussen; Received award on February 5, 2014

Roger Dunn

SUB Custodian, MSU-Bozeman

The Strand Union administration, building and Ask Us staff would collectively like to nominate Roger Dunn for the Pure Gold Award. Roger has worked tirelessly as a custodian for the SUB for over 16 years. An expert at his job, he is reliable, trustworthy and always willing to help when needed. What he isn't is "grumpy," "gruff" or a "curmudgeon." Sure, he has tried to portray a tough exterior, but everyone he encounters knows otherwise. He is incredibly selfless, a great listener, witty, an instant friend, a compassionate cynic with a giant heart, a man who genuinely cares about the students and staff. He will never let us forget "Hump Day" and affectionately calls us "kiddo."

The Ask Us student staff will tell you that Roger is the reason students love the SUB. He is the fabric of our community. In addition to nominating Roger for Pure Gold the student staff also declares Roger an "honorary Askie." We thank Roger for his service, his commitment, his prolific smiles and his Pure Gold heart.

University Catering would also like to nominate Roger Dunn for the Pure Gold Award. Roger has been invaluable with the preparation of venue set-up details for multiple university departmental clients that utilize space in the SUB. Throughout his tenure, Roger has worked closely with Conference and Event Services to ensure that diagram specifications are flawlessly executed. It is not always an easy task when clients’ needs change on the day of their event. Room tear-down and set-up on a daily basis pose additional challenges when faced with very little turnaround time between events, and AV equipment requirement needs are so diverse for each client.

His knowledge and understanding with the use of the AV equipment is invaluable. His personal demeanor, fun-loving wry humor and positive attitude warm the hearts of so many who know him. His many years of unfaltering dedication to the Conference and Event Services team and to the clientele base he provides for is commendable.
Nominated by Gina Fife; Received award on March 26, 2014

Margie Jensen

Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, MSU-Bozeman

Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) board members know they will get Pure Gold treatment from Margie Jensen, MMEC’s administrative associate and board liaison. She is the voice of the center for callers and guests, who often comment on her always-cheerful demeanor, what I call “the smile in her voice.” MMEC staff have come to expect no less after 15 years of stellar service.

However, we found ourselves inspired as she visibly thrived on learning new systems and complex reporting requirements over the past year. Our fiscal manager had resigned unexpectedly, and she stepped up to assume a vital role to keep us in good standing with our national NIST MEP partner. She saw to it that client projects were captured in the database and scheduled correctly for a crucial survey. The survey results are used to calculate the positive impacts of MMEC service. She connected the dots between her duties and those of the fiscal manager for other critical gaps such as ensuring that business reports to MSU kept flowing and the year-end wrap-up without a hitch -- a huge task, as anyone familiar with the process knows! It was uplifting.

Margie is a true example of a lifetime learner, quietly assuming a leadership role when needed. MMEC field engineer Todd Daniels summed it up nicely: “Even though we lost a key employee … those in the field were not significantly impacted because of the extra effort and tasks Margie picked up to cover that loss. I didn’t know Margie had taken on so much given that she was as calm, cool and friendly as she always is.” That is MSU Pure Gold. That is Margie Jensen.
Nominated by Steve Holland; Received award on January 29, 2014

Kristine Mashaw

MSU Police, MSU-Bozeman

On behalf of the entire MSU Police Department, I ask that the title of “Pure Gold” be bestowed upon Kristine Mashaw!

It’s been an immense privilege to work with Kristine. She is our Police Administrative Manager, an integral part of the team at the MSU Police Department, and, without a doubt, an excellent candidate for a presidential Pure Gold nomination. In the four years Kristine has worked for our department, she has fundamentally transformed the level of efficiency and quality of services that support our police operations. We have been remiss in taking this long to recommend someone who is clearly as deserving as they come!

While Kristine juggles a litany of very complex, equally important tasks with a smile, she always takes time to help any member of our department with pay issues, benefits questions, or anything they might need. The knowledge she has shared with employees with respect to HR procedures to computer skills (such as getting more out of Excel or Outlook) has greatly enhanced the manner in which we do our jobs. She has an incredible eye for detail and performs all her duties in a professional manner and yet she is persistently kind to everyone around her. Kristine could rightly be called the glue that holds this department together.

Not only does she excel at her job, with her bright cheerful presence and good sense of humor, Kristine also excels at enhancing the morale in our department. The Montana State University Police Department would not be the department it is without her dedicated professionalism and expertise.
Nominated by Amy Ross; Received award on April 2, 2014

Emily Peterson

Heath Science Division, MSU-Great Falls

Emily Peterson, the administrative assistant for Great Falls College MSU's Health Science division, came to the rescue and saved our division (Developmental Education and Transfer) when we unexpectedly lost our administrative assistant two weeks into the fall semester. The administrative assistant is key to the workings of our division, supporting 20 full-time faculty and staff, and 68 adjunct faculty, with over 70 individual courses with multiple sections. We would have been lost had Emily not stepped in and volunteered to help with many duties and responsibilities.

Every time I, as director, was wondering how I was going to make a deadline or accomplish a task, Emily appeared and volunteered to help. Thanks to her, our student evaluations were requested and administered on time, our faculty workloads and adjunct Letter of Appointments were completed, and many other smaller but vitally important tasks were handled.

She supported not only her own division but ours as well for almost three months until our replacement was hired. Her willingness to help and reach out beyond her own duties makes Emily pure gold.
Nominated by Leanne Frost; Received award on March 5, 2014

Sally Sanchez

Modern Languages & Literatures, MSU-Bozeman

I had the pleasure of being enrolled in two consecutive semesters with professor Sanchez beginning in the fall of 2011. Throughout my participation in Elementary Spanish I and Elementary Spanish II, I fell in love with the Spanish language, and I owe much of this newfound love to professor Sanchez. The knowledge and appreciation I gained for the subject matter persuaded me to declare a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies.

Her approach to teaching is unlike any other class setting I have had the privilege of being a part of. She presented each class in such a way that encouraged discussion and interaction, and I felt that I was always engaged in the learning process.

Professor Sanchez’s light-hearted, carefree personality made the classes fun and enjoyable.

As I near the end of my undergraduate career here at MSU, professor Sanchez continues to show support for me and has encouraged me greatly during these last few years. She encouraged me to go forth with a minor in Latin American and Latino Studies, and her confidence in me has assured me that I am capable of achieving all of my goals and becoming successful. She has the amazing ability to connect with all of her students, and has demonstrated genuine investment in each and every one of us individually.

She is an outstanding instructor because she knows her subject and her students. She has always been willing to make herself available to students, and is very encouraging and supportive. Her unwavering enthusiasm and dedication to her students is evident in her compassion. Her impact on my life and the lives of other students is profound, and I cannot think of another individual more qualified or deserving of this respected accolade.
Nominated by Alisha Downs; Received award on March 12, 2014

Rita Sand

Academic Advising for Native American Students, MSU-Bozeman

Rita Sand, Native American student academic adviser and co-adviser of the American Indian Council, has devoted her time and energy to Native students all across the MSU Bozeman campus. Her positive energy and enthusiasm are heartfelt and experienced by all students who have had the pleasure to meet her. Her soft voice and welcoming smile make every student feel special. Rita's genuine concern for Native student success has resulted in many students leaving MSU with a degree. Her devotion is seen not only in academic advising but also in the time she spends with the American Indian Council.

Throughout the years, Rita has demonstrated the ability to be involved with many student activities while also supporting the growing population of Native students. Her perseverance has created a caring foundation on which all students can rely. Her understanding of American Indian culture has created a unique relationship with many of the students. Among all of the great things Rita has done, she has also been a positive mentor to fellow employees, as well as committing much of her time to community involvement. Rita is pure gold in our hearts.
Nominated by Lisa Perry; Received award on January 8, 2014

Kimberly Sinrud

Chemistry and Biochemistry, MSU-Bozeman

Kim Sinrud has many duties as the administrative officer for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and she goes “above and beyond” on a daily basis. For example, Kim goes to great lengths to make sure that every MSU undergraduate who needs help enrolling in a chemistry class has a positive experience and walks out of the office with a schedule that works well. Kim works tirelessly with each student so that 20,000 student credit hours worth of enrollment are managed carefully each year. She is a master at massaging enrollment caps and lab section offerings so that thousands of students are happy with their schedule of chemistry classes.

Kim serves as a resource and a helper for everyone who comes into the office of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Her job of ensuring that all faculty and employee appointments are done correctly is of critical importance, but she is incredibly organized and will cheerfully interrupt what she’s doing to help someone with the jammed copier or to help a campus visitor who needs directions. She pays attention to how everyone is feeling and actively works to make their situations better.

Unless you are wearing a Griz sweatshirt. Kim is fiercely loyal to the Bobcats, and she may ask you to come back for help on another day or ask you to remove your sweatshirt before she will solve your problem for you if you are wearing maroon.

Overall, Kim’s cheerful willingness to help a worried or confused student is inspiring and absolutely shows that she is pure gold!
Nominated by Mary Cloninger; Received award on February 26, 2014

Frederick Smiley

Education, MSU-Northern

Dr. Frederick Smiley, my online MSU-N professor, consistently reaches "above and beyond" to serve his students. From his availability for office phone conversations to his extensive feedback on assignments, this top-notch educator remains persistent in his goal to help all students succeed; he refuses to give up on you!

Dr. Smiley's focus is relationships, and he encourages us as education majors to work as a team and help each other; thus, we share unique bonds of trust and compassion. Our professor also instills a profound respect and appreciation for human diversity, and he stresses etiquette and kindness in all our correspondences. Dr. Smiley challenges and encourages us to represent good people of character, which will help us serve as positive role models for our future classroom students.

Dr. Smiley worked long hours this semester to link me here in Great Falls to my Havre classmates. He continues to make significant efforts to connect me with my peers' in-class discussions and discoveries, motivating me to engage and excel in this course like no other. My peers repeatedly share how Dr. Smiley has boosted their writing abilities by spending countless hours reading aloud their essays alongside them.

Students are not only receiving a superior, rigorous academic education from Dr. Smiley, but they are also learning alongside a benevolent educator who labors passionately to help his students become better people. Dr. Frederick Smiley greatly deserves this 'Pure Gold' award as he extends his own 'heart of gold,' forever impacting the minds and character of his students from afar.
Nominated by Teresa Dower; Received award on April 9, 2014

Nick Staffileno


Daily, the Residence Life office give campus tours to prospective students and their families. Nick has offered our department the freedom to show his room, (sometimes twice a day) to numerous "strangers."

He opens his door and greets the tour with a HUGE smile, positive attitude, and he literally welcomes the group into his room, his home. He goes above and beyond explaining the mechanics of the loftable beds, portable furniture and dimensions of the rooms.

The way Nick shares his love of on-campus living and his experience in the halls is refreshing and motivating. He speaks with so much enthusiasm that the entire mood of our tour groups shifts. No one leaves his room without every question answered and a handshake or open invitation to look him up upon their arrival back to MSU. Nick is an exceptional student, and I feel proud that he is representing our university.
Nominated by Maureen Parsons; Received award on February 12, 2014

Laura Underkofler

Human Resources, MSU-Bozeman

Laura Underkofler is an outstanding example of "Pure Gold" service and respect. A personnel officer in HR on the Bozeman campus, Laura works primarily with MSU retirees, or those employees who are planning to become retirees. I am often stopped on campus and in university events by retired MSU employees and told how positive their experiences are with Laura. At one of the most important times of their work life, Laura has answered questions and helped faculty and staff navigate the intricacies of moving into that next stage. Her compassion, empathy and solid understanding of retirement policies and implications demonstrate her professionalism and garners "thank you's" from many in the MSU community.

As faculty and staff move from active employees to retirees, Laura provides the connection to the MSU campus for many. Just one example of her dedication to the retiree community can be seen annually as benefits are updated through the "Choices" offerings. Laura works tirelessly with retirees to answer their questions and assist them in changing insurance plans and making other benefits adjustments. It is not unusual for Laura to personally meet with folks at their home if they are not able to come to the office.

Another example of Laura's dedication to service excellence is that she took the lead on developing the brochure entitled "Retiree Benefits and Privileges." This brochure provides a useful and informative format that allows retirees, and soon to be retirees to have information about the MSU services and privileges available to them in a single document. In a recent meeting of the Association of Retired Faculty, a motion for Laura was unanimously approved that reads in part "... that we formally express our gratitude to you for all the good work you have done for us." Laura demonstrates all that is best on campus, and we are fortunate to have her here. Laura, you are Pure Gold!
Nominated by Dennis Defa; Received award on April 16, 2014

Joe Dalton,  Vida Landa and Lyle Williams

IT Center Store, MSU-Bozeman

Because I have been amazed by the collective determination of Joe Dalton, Vida Landa and Lyle Williams, I feel I must nominate them as a unit. Individually, they set a pure gold standard beyond a doubt, but even more so as a group do they exemplify pure gold teamwork. In my 10 years at MSU, I have never worked with a group more united in dedication and effort than these three individuals. Joe, Lyle and Vida have served the four-campus MSU community for a collective 14 years, but it is for the past year in particular that I wish to recognize their pure gold service.

In addition to enduring the tumultuous events that rocked the broader IT Center community, for the past year, Joe, Vida and Lyle have operated without a manager amid a changing organizational structure, all the while continuing a workflow that was for years addressed by 4 FTE. They have faced uncertainty and stressful workloads and yet met each challenge with such resolve that I imagine the larger campus community has not even noticed the difference. It is only because of the "above and beyond" nature of their service that computers still appear on desktops and fill labs, that software gets installed in compliance with numerous negotiated license agreements, that podiums and classrooms are outfitted with AV equipment, and all this, because of their procurement expertise, at prices that save departments, and ultimately the taxpayers of Montana, considerable dollars.

These folks have inspired me by their dedication to the MSU community, the positive outlook they have maintained through the past year, and the good humor and selfless service they demonstrate to each person who walks in the door of their department. It is an honor to be associated with each one of them.
Nominated by Gary Parker; Received award on January 15, 2014