George Haynes

George Haynes

Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Bozeman


Like a really great football coach, George Haynes is a steady, quiet constant on the sidelines, trusting and respectful of the players executing the moves taught and rehearsed, raising voice only when the team needs a reminder of the end goal of the game, calmly guiding distracted members back to the focal point. His expansive leadership experience made him the ideal person to gather, guide and connect all the many necessary people in the creation of the Montana AgTech Innovation and Investment Summit held in January.

As a longtime Extension Farm Management Specialist and Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, George has applied his leadership, statewide connections to support a wide range of issues relevant to MSU and Montanans in general. He has been a key team member on projects researching the cost of childcare across the state, the tax implications of electric vehicles, the economic impact of agriculture in Montana, MSU involvement in Precision Agriculture, Agricultural Outreach Partnerships with Tribal Colleges, and support of student-athletes by serving as the Faculty Athletic Representative.

It was only natural that I asked George to assist me in laying the groundwork for a desired ag tech innovation hub in our state from which sprung forth the first summit. Creating connections is George Haynes’ forte. For his invaluable assistance I declare him to be Pure Gold.

Award received April 19, 2023. Nominated by Sreekala Bajwa.

Jordan Teller

Jordan Teller

Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing, Billings


Jordan Teller goes above and beyond to serve our students and our community. She is adept at providing community resources for our nursing students on our campus. She organizes volunteer opportunities for students and was instrumental in creating an interdisciplinary student-led foot care clinic for the homeless and collaborated with the Salvation Army to provide meals to the homeless in Billings. During the Covid pandemic, Jordan organized faculty and student vaccination clinics for our community.

Jordan does a fantastic job mentoring students to explore available options when they face challenges and assists them to problem solve when they are discouraged. She always sees the best in people. She is a joy to teach with, and the students respond enthusiastically to her upbeat approach to teaching/learning. She truly is a champion for our students as they graduate from our program, face the nursing board exam, and become the next generation of Bobcat Nurses!

Award received April 12, 2023. Nominated by Debbie Fischer.

Tammie Hickey

Tammie Hickey

Department of College and Career Readiness Center and Department of Continuing Education and Training, Great Falls


Tammie Hickey has been described as a human whirlwind – energetic, innovative, inspiring, dedicated, hard-working, driven, enthusiastic, and fun! In her dual-leadership role as the Director of the Great Falls College MSU-Continuing Education and Training Department and as the Director of the Great Falls Public Schools Career & College Readiness Center, she has successfully blended the adult programs. Whether it is assisting adults on their pathways to higher education, short-term training, apprenticeships, citizenship, or passing the high school equivalency exam, she strives for perfection and habitually assists others in finding their unique path of success.

In her dual roles, Tammie created a partnership with Great Falls Public Schools, Great Falls College MSU and the Department of Labor and Industry to develop and implement the nationally recognized bridge program, Connections 101. This program includes career exploration, skill building in math and writing, introduction to computers, work ethics, and study skills. This is followed by industry connection classes, college classes, and/or work experience. When all other training was shut down, Tammie’s outside-the-box approach brought healthcare training for Certified Nursing Assistants to GFCMSU during Covid by using the simulated hospital for clinicals. She brought multiple business entities together for an advisory council to create a unique model for a Commercial Driver's License program, to help fill a need in the community.

She is currently in the process of bringing together GFCMSU, GFCCRC, Habitat for Humanity and at-risk citizens, to address the housing shortage with a program called Future Build and, if awarded, the Youth Build grant will blend the programs for additional opportunities for skilled training and much needed housing.

For those of us that have the privilege of working alongside this fabulous lady, simply said, we are better because of her. She shows us that it is important to add significance to another person’s life and deliver value in everything you do! Tammie Hickey is PURE GOLD!

Award received April 5, 2023. Nominated by Priscilla Azure, Michelle Brown, Pam Buckheit, Lisa Frank, Veronica Griffith, Jodi Hicks, Reanna Jenkins, Brittany Light, Mary Miller, Angi Orsua, and Melissa VanSickle.

Carmen Roberts

Carmen Roberts

Department of Business and Finance, Great Falls


Carmen Roberts took on the daunting task of creating a facilities master plan for the Great Falls College MSU campus. While not as complex as the larger campuses, the Great Falls Campus does have unique challenges and Carmen was able to bring together campus stakeholders from diverse areas to find reasonable and mutually beneficial solutions.

Space allocation always has the potential to be a contentious issue and at a smaller school you are often working just down the hall from the person you will potentially be relocating. From the beginning, Carmen had a plan and was able to organize and communicate with the team effectively and efficiently. Often when working on a committee the meetings can seem unnecessary, but every meeting had a plan and an achievable agenda. Carmen created a space where all had a voice and could identify potential risks and issues without judgement. The approach and the why behind this project were made clear and resulted in buy in from all participants. By starting with a clear purpose, Carmen was able to keep the committee focused and committed in an environment strewn with obstacles and distractions.

Carmen Roberts is Pure Gold for a job well done and for creating a campus plan that meets the needs of our students now and in the future.

Award received March 29, 2023. Nominated by Brenda Canine.

Nic Richardson

Nic Richardson

TechLink Center, Bozeman


Who are you going to call when, for some reason, your computer goes kaput? Who’s there for you when you need a software solution to execute your project goal or a new system for complex data analysis?

At TechLink, we are very fortunate to be able to call Senior Business Intelligence and Integration Lead Nic Richardson. No matter the emergency or the task, Nic always responds quickly, cheerfully, and with a solution-oriented approach. Given the size of TechLink, Nic is routinely asked to juggle numerous daily projects, troubleshoot a variety of problems, and then pivot to respond to unexpected emergencies, all as a matter of course. Yet, whenever he is asked to assist, he is cheerful and ready to help. His attitude and demeanor communicate that he has all the time in the world to handle your particular question or issue. His communication skills are exceptional, he works well with our entire team, and he represents TechLink in a professional manner to other MSU departments as well as to outside vendors.

The world of business intelligence is complicated and ever-changing. Nic is proactive and stays abreast of industry best practices. He plans and coordinates the department’s operational updates and upgrades in such a way as to minimize the impact on our daily business.

We here at TechLink are in awe of his unflappable disposition and willingness to be of service no matter how mundane or complex the task. Nic Richardson contributes directly to our success as an organization and for that he is PURE GOLD.

Award received March 22, 2023. Nominated by Jeanne Carter, Tricia Cook and Lanette Dowd.

Peter Schweppe

Peter Schweppe

Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, Bozeman


Being in a class with Dr. Peter Schweppe is an experience like no other. Whatever subject he chooses to cover in his classes, whether it be the History of Berlin Techno, German Influences in Yellowstone Park, or Extremist Movements in 1960s West Germany, his knowledge and passion for German culture allow him not only to interest his students in the course topics, but also to make them learn the material in depth. Dr. Schweppe genuinely cares about the subject matter he lectures about, and the enthusiasm he has for the material in question spills over to the students during class. His relentless enthusiasm, combined with kindness and easy-going attitude, make the students feel comfortable and relaxed enough to share opinions in class, which in turn leads to animated and productive discussions. Dr. Schweppe’s ability to work well with other professors creates experiences and crossovers that students otherwise wouldn't be able to have. His “collaboration courses” with American Studies graduate seminars and Chinese history courses allow for a high level of comparative thinking, enrich students’ learning experience, and broaden their worldview. In short, Dr. Peter Schweppe goes the extra mile to make his students feel welcome and appreciated. He sparks our interest and encourages learning in class and beyond. -Nicholas Alvord

Pete always helps students understand the material being taught and makes connections to other classes and concepts that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. He has inspired many students to continue to learn German as well as helped foster a friendly and caring German community on campus. - Leander von Specht

Professor Schweppe is always a champion for students. From supporting their professional goals to encouraging furthering their German learning in unique and engaging ways, he always puts students first. His support of German Club is also a perfect example of his willingness to support students in all of their endeavors. We are very lucky to have him as a part of the Language department and our greater MSU community. - Tyler Vogel

Pete Schweppe may very well be the best professor I’ve ever had. His energetic teaching style makes it obvious just how much passion he has for his department and for his students! He always succeeds in making his classrooms a space for learning, sharing, and growing. Whether it be getting pizza with his students after class or helping and checking in on people when they start to fall behind, Pete always goes above and beyond to make connections with his students. - Collin Platt

Dr Schweppe is truly a passionate teacher about German Culture. In his classes, he’s always making sure that everyone is feeling comfortable. He is always going out of his way to check on his student and as an exchange student he made me feel very welcome and appreciated. Dr Schweppe’ conveys his love for Germany and its culture in his teachings which makes his classes really inspiring. - Aurélia Carry

Award received March 15, 2023. Nominated by Nicholas Alvord, Leander von Specht, Tyler Vogel,Collin Platt and Aurelia Carry.


Joel Harris

Joel Harris

Facilities Services, Bozeman


It’s not hard to see how Joel received the title of “Gallatin’s Greatest Coach.” Housing students at MSU requires extensive maintenance and tracking of thousands of keys. Joel has never once failed to follow through for us, regardless of the timing or challenge. Joel responds to our frequent requests (and panicked phone calls) with humor and kindness and is always thinking about ways to enhance the on-campus experience for our students.

This summer a change to the way we assigned apartments left us needing new locks and keys for multiple units, and fast. Joel didn’t bat an eye at the request, even when he had to redo lock changes because of missed information on our part. Joel is never frustrated with lost key situations or last-minute calls for help but, instead, he continues to tell us “It’s all good,” deliver keys earlier than expected, and show exceptional compassion to all.

He never misses an opportunity to pause, say hello, and ask someone how they are doing. We would be lost without Joel… and he knows it! He is “key” to our success.

Award received March 8, 2023. Nominated by Jeff Bondy, Korrin Fagenstrom, Amanda Tebay, Randi Bidart, Katherine Kraft, Maureen Fredericks, and the entire University Student housing team.

Dana May

Dana May

Western Transportation Institute, Bozeman


Dana May is Pure Gold for the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University. Dana currently serves as the Business Development Manager for WTI. However, this title encompasses a myriad of support for WTI staff from proposal development, report and article reviews, conference development and research area support, to sharing our work through NewsWire. In addition, Dana serves as technical support for the National Center for Rural Road Safety’s monthly webinars, ensuring that with ever changing webinar technologies the events run as smoothly as possible for attendees and speakers.

In all of these areas she embodies exemplary service while often working in the background. One of the most notable aspects of Dana is her calm efficiency. With numerous last-minute deadlines that seem never-ending, Dana handles them with grace. She models kindness in achieving success, which we continue to learn from her. She has helped foster high quality research products and dissemination of this information.

She is one of our great people. Dana is truly essential to all researchers at WTI, providing her support from the proposal stage to perfecting final products; none of us would be as successful as we are without her contributions.

Award received March 1, 2023. Nominated by Natalie Villwock-Witte, Laura Fay, Jaime Sullivan and Karalyn Clouser.

Faith Suhre

Faith Suhre

University Student Housing, Bozeman


Faith shows up at work every day with a smile on her face. She oversees Student Engagement and Learning in housing. She leads with passion; she goes before those she leads showing how people should be treated. Faith works incredibly hard for our students and those around her. She is working on overhauling the Residence Hall Association (RHA) to better meet the needs of our students. She cares deeply about the land grant mission of MSU and wants to see it on full display as we work to create student leaders.

Faith inspires all of us to be excited about the workday and the great opportunity we have to serve our community each and every day. She reminds us that our work is not about us but about the impact we are able to make in the lives of the students that we are privileged to serve.

Faith is incredibly deserving of a Pure Gold award for her tenacity in serving our students, the way she inspires those around her, and her commitment to the MSU mission.

Award received February 22, 2023. Nominated by Zach Dovenbarger.

Donna Negaard

Donna Negaard

Graduate School, Bozeman


Donna Negaard helps graduate students through difficult and complex challenges so they can complete their degrees. Examples of the problems students come to her with include a deteriorated mentoring relationship with faculty, needing time away to look after their mental or physical health or take care of family members, or building an academic plan to recover from a poor semester. Donna approaches her work by being calm, asking about what has happened, and what the student would like to see as an outcome.

By partnering with offices such as the Office of Institutional Equity, Dean of Students Office, Counseling & Psychological Services, and Office of International Programs, she and the student build workable solutions and pathways to success. With the student’s permission, she also works with the department and faculty, often bringing to them the perspective of what would be best for the student. Donna meets with over 100 graduate students each year. Helping many find solutions to problems that seemed intractable to the student when they first stepped into her office or made a phone call.

Her care, concern, and deep wisdom have impacted so many students. It is not an overstatement to say that Donna has saved graduate students’ lives. Please help to recognize Donna for her years of dedication and service by calling her Pure Gold.

Award recieved February 15, 2023. Nominated by Craig Ogilvie.

Merry Bruce

Merry Bruce

Department of Military Science, Bozeman


Merry Bruce is the embodiment of Pure Gold. She works as the university liaison for the Army ROTC program, and she works with 107 ROTC affiliated students, helping them with class enrollment and making sure they are on track to graduate. Merry also works as an academic advisor in the College of Computing where she advises 30 plus students.

She is the heart of the Army ROTC program and has a work ethic that is strong, caring, genuine, and student focused. She spends countless hours making sure that everything in the department is running smoothly. She brings an amazing energy with her to work every day that makes working with her incredibly enjoyable. The enthusiasm that Merry puts into her work with students is felt by everyone. We appreciate all the extra work she puts in to make our jobs easier and to make the department run smoother.

Award recieved February 8, 2023. Nominated by Baylee Dehler.

Lance Ratterman

Lance Ratterman

Military Air and Space Studies, Bozeman


During his three short years at MSU, Lt Col Ratterman has completely transformed the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) program. The AFROTC program allows MSU to fulfill its obligations as a land-grant university, and under Col Ratterman’s guidance AFROTC has flourished and produced some of the top students at MSU as well as high-quality officers for the Air and Space Force.

Col. Ratterman’s success is fueled by his constant desire to help those around him, whether that be his staff, his students, or the greater community. He has forged ties around Bozeman with organizations such as Warriors and Quiet Waters, the Deadalians, and other veteran agencies both on and off campus, incorporating their vast knowledge into mentoring opportunities for cadets in the AFROTC program. Additionally, he always ensures his staff is recognized, nominating them for awards, opportunities, fighting to help them further their careers, and pushing them to always better themselves, without ever asking anything in return. His staff has been recognized with awards at the highest levels of both AFROTC and MSU thanks to his efforts. This selflessness and the knowledge that he cares inspires his small team to be highly successful and makes him well deserving of Pure Gold.

Cassandra Wojtaszek

 Lt. Col. Ratterman goes above and beyond in his role as head of the Department of Air and Space Studies. He has forged connections with various campus entities, including the Athletic Department, Office of Student Success, academic advisors and various colleges throughout campus. His efforts led to a 4-ship Air Force flyover of fighter jets (A-10s) for the Cat-Griz game flown by 3 MSU alumni, serving both the community and MSU. He then oversaw an event for AFROTC cadets, allowing them to see the jets and talk with the pilots about careers in the Air Force that they will soon join.

He has also worked to establish AFROTC knowledgeable academic advisors under the Department of Engineering to help cadets in planning their academic careers, allowing all AFROTC students to graduate in 5 years or less. Finally, he ensures that all students in AFROTC get feedback every semester and ensures instructors check on the mental health of all cadets. He works closely with the Office of Student Success to ensure that cadets who are struggling with mental stressors get the help they need early.

Celeste Valenzuela

Lt. Col. Ratterman embodies a holistic team mindset. From integration of diversity at an individual level to synergizing Air and Space Studies with the National Defense Strategy, he maintains a positive mindset and inspires teammates to never settle for the status quo. The Colonel is a champion for his subordinates' efforts by supporting teammates with encouragement, tools, and resources to get the mission accomplished, as well as offering higher level engagement when needed. If a person on his team needs assistance, it becomes his priority. The realism and practicality he balances with the inspirational drive make his outlook and team-goals actionable and achievable. The underlying theme to all his efforts is simple: to train and develop leaders of character for tomorrow's Air and Space Forces.

Scott Gregory

 Lance Ratterman is the type of person that comes in early and stays late to take care of both his subordinates and his students/cadets. He spends time getting to know people and develop personal connections with them. He's dedicated to bettering the lives of those he teaches and has been instrumental in developing a more dedicated AFROTC mentorship program involving MSU advisors so that cadets have adequate support as they navigate their personal, educational, and cadet lives.

He holds cadets to high standards and strives to build them into mature, ethical, and empathetic leaders that better their community and organization, regardless of whether the cadets pursue military service or not. He takes care of his coworkers/subordinates by empowering them to meet organizational goals and ensuring that they are mentally and physically healthy in both their work and personal lives. He constantly seeks opportunities for professional and career development for his subordinates.

One of the greatest indicators to his quality of character is that there has been no decline in his efforts to better those around him despite being less than a year from retiring and being at the point where it would be tempting to “check out” from a demanding and sometimes stressful career.

Trevor Lewis

Award received February 1, 2023. Nominated by Cassandra Wojtaszek, Celeste Valenzuela, Scott Gregory and Trevor Lewis.

Sarah Benton

Sarah Benton

University Information Technology, Bozeman


Each year institutional research colleagues at all four MSU campuses rely on the Enterprise Services Group in UIT to create very specific, ever-changing summaries of financial aid awards that we are required to submit to the federal government and other groups. The reports keep us accountable for fair and generous awarding of financial support to our students. They require keen attention to detail and insight into the complex underlying data structures in Banner. To make things even more challenging during the last cycle, key people who had done this work recently retired. Enter Sarah Benton. With the help of the Office of Financial Aid Services, Sarah went above and beyond as she quickly learned about complicated financial aid data, taught us how it is collected and compiled, and created an easy-to-use system for retrieving and checking the data. Now we can run student financial aid reports at any time, greatly improving the efficiency with which we complete reports and allowing for additional analysis, understanding, and improvement. What's more, she has created a user manual explaining how the information was compiled, which will help us collect and understand this information for years to come.

Sarah could have just delivered the same old reports, but she took the initiative to make the process much better all with a smile and good humor. She is Pure Gold.

Award received January 25, 2023. Nominated by Mary Kate Blake and Chris Fastnow.

Kayla Ouert

Kayla Ouert

WWAMI Medical Education Program, Bozeman


While I’ve only experienced Kayla’s impact second hand, she stands out as a Pure Gold recipient because of her dedication to WWAMI students' success – no matter what their stage in the program.  Since my husband was a first-year Montana WWAMI student, I’ve heard students in his cohort share how Kayla is helpful and takes the time to make sure their questions and concerns are handled.

Not only is she instrumental in the day-to-day operations of Montana WWAMI and ensures that a complicated program with many moving parts runs seamlessly, she provides academic and curriculum advising, helps coordinate the many extracurricular activities the students are involved in, and is always available for sound advice and reassurance during the many stressful events and exams throughout medical school. When the coronavirus pandemic shifted so many things for the second- and first-year students, she was an essential resource for the students to shift from in-person learning to online learning. 

She has excelled at helping these medical students succeed by being a much needed helping hand. Her impact is felt more broadly than just the students — I feel it too.

I think a Pure Gold recipient embodies student and community impact — that's Kayla. She is truly an asset to Montana State and making the Montana WWAMI program a success.

Emme Demmendaal

Kayla has been doing an extraordinary job as WWAMI Program Manager. She is incredibly efficient and talented. As the only staff member here, she has to wear many hats: managing the students’ enrollments at two universities, scheduling, faculty appointments, budgeting, payroll, classroom IT support, and so much more. Even with two small children in preschool and daycare, she goes out of her way to be available when the students and faculty need her. WWAMI classes are in session all year, except for 2 weeks in December and 4 weeks in the summer, and that month we are getting ready for the arrival of the next cohort of students.

Kayla is so dedicated to the success of the program, that she times all her vacations (and even her maternity leaves) to make sure that the program’s needs are taken care of. On top of that, she is an MSU grad and dedicated Bobcat fan! -Martin Teintze

Award received January 18, 2023. Nominated by Emme Demmendaal and Martin Teintze.