Around the Oval
Senior Offensive Guard Colin Dow gives his Grizzly teammates a pep talk after the disappointing 7-24 loss to the Richmond Spiders in the Football Championship Subdivision title game in Chattanooga, Tenn., December 19.
Griz No. 2 in the Nation
OK, so Griz Nation didn’t get its fantastic finish.
The Grizzlies lost to the Richmond Spiders 7-24 on December 19 during the Football Championship Subdivision title game in Chattanooga, Tenn. Despite some outstanding performances—junior wide receiver Marc Mariani snagged seven passes for 172 yards and junior linebacker Shawn Lebsock tallied thirteen tackles—the Griz left the stadium frustrated, finishing the season 14-2. The team is now 2-4 in FCS championship games.
No. 2 hurts, but when one considers that roughly 125 teams nationally vied for the crown, it’s not half bad—especially when taking into account how much this team defied expectations and improved during the year.
At the beginning of the season, many fans whispered “rebuilding year.” Twenty-four seniors had graduated from last year’s 11-1 squad, and three of those had landed in the NFL. Despite the steady leadership of senior quarterback Cole Bergquist and a monstrous O-line, many folks thought the running game and defense needed a little seasoning. Would the Griz finish 8-4? Was the string of fifteen straight playoff appearances in jeopardy?
The 2008 Griz squeaked out a 30-28 road win to open the season against nationally ranked Cal Poly and then dominated Southern Utah 46-10 at home. But they almost lost to Division II Central Washington in Missoula and then the wheels came off during a 28-45 loss in the rain to Weber State in Ogden, Utah.
A turning point came the next week when the Griz defense took on a new, tougher identity during a 19-3 stifling of Eastern Washington in Cheney. Suddenly the wins piled up. During the 108th Brawl of the Wild, Griz players clad in throwback copper and gold jerseys sent the Montana State Bobcats yowling back to Bozeman with a 35-3 spanking.
Some wonderful plotlines emerged during the season. Bergquist, from San Clemente, Calif., was outstanding as quarterback, throwing for 3,156 yards (8,442 for his UM career). Mariani, a Havre product, had 1,308 receiving yards—the second-most ever for a Grizzly. Senior safety Colt Anderson of Butte, America, finished his career with 313 tackles—the fifth-best in UM history—putting him ahead of Tim Hauck, who went on to a lengthy NFL career. But perhaps the most exciting story was the emergence of Chase Reynolds, the sophomore running back from Drummond, who set single season records for touchdowns (23) and points (138).
The Griz roared into the playoffs with a No. 5 seed, earning two games at home. Texas State went down 31-13, and then UM avenged its only loss of the season with a 24-13 mauling of talented Weber State. Even the biggest doubters had to admit that something special was happening with the 2008 Griz.
It got better the next week when UM traveled to Harrison, Va., to face No. 1-ranked James Madison University. There the Griz took on outstanding JMU quarterback and Peyton Award finalist Rodney Landers, and an opportunistic Montana defense held him in check until he left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter. His backup, Drew Dudzik, played gamely, but the Griz held on for a 35-27 victory—UM’s first road semifinal victory in school history. A photo of Montana defensive tackle Craig Mettler upending Dudzik became a two-page spread in the December 22 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Then along came the Spiders and a tough loss in Chattanooga. The Griz couldn’t put the capper on their already spectacular season. After the game, coach Bobby Hauck had this to say: “I’m proud of this football team. They’re a great group of young men. They came a million miles from August.”
Mohr Named Montana’s First Female Regents Professor
When it came to teaching awards, UM School of Business Administration Professor Jakki Mohr already had several in the bag. In 2002, after only five years teaching at the University, Mohr was named UM’s Most Inspirational Teacher of the Year. Three years later she was the Montana Professor of the Year. The following years brought more accolades for the UM educator. But it was at the Board of Regents meeting last November that she landed the big one.
To a standing ovation in a crowded University Center Ballroom, the Montana Board of Regents rewarded Mohr with the highest teaching honor in the Montana University System—the rank of Regents Professor. Mohr is the first woman in Montana to receive the award and joins seven UM professors previously honored with the title.
“This is something that we do rarely in the Montana University System,” Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns said in opening remarks for the ceremony. “It’s a moment of celebration and congratulation.”
UM Provost Royce Engstrom introduced Mohr, citing her excellence in teaching, research, and service. “She just does everything, and we are so proud of her to join the ranks of Regents Professor,” he said at the ceremony.
Mohr says she was flattered and honored to receive the award. “The reason I do what I do is to make a difference in some way,” she says. “This institution has allowed me to do that.”
The President's Corner
The time has come again to put words to paper and articulate the pride stirred by the latest issue of the Montanan. As you review it, I have no doubt that you will come away as I did even more fascinated by the remarkable people who constitute The University of Montana and their accomplishments. You will learn about a new entity referred to affectionately as MOLLI, that brings to people fifty years and older in Missoula and Hamilton some of our most outstanding faculty members to speak about their passionate—even all-consuming—interests. In addition, you can join in the twentieth anniversary of the Alumni Band, which always enlivens Homecoming for all. And what about Colin Meloy and The Decemberists, another alumni contribution—this time to help bring home the truly historic victory for Barack Obama in the presidential race? More recently, we heard about still another alumnus—Jim Messina—who helped guide the Obama campaign and will continue as deputy chief of staff for the new president. Montana alums turn up everywhere, seemingly in touch with all the major events of our time. We can with confidence expect them to have a hand in helping to rescue the state and the country from the current economic doldrums.
And what of higher education during these times of great trouble? Quite clearly the society stands in need of greater investment in public higher education as people across the country seek to chart a course to safety and security. Since the late 1970s opened the new era of the Human Resource Economy—sometimes called the Information Age—it has become increasingly clear that the society that fails to invest in its people will find itself in the backwaters, listlessly drifting along as the world passes it by. Think of the changes that have occurred in the last couple of decades when the United States surrendered its place as the educational leader of the world, measured by the educational attainment of its citizenry. We can only hope to recapture that standing by massive reinvestment in public higher education. In my view, therein lies the challenge for the United States and Montana in the twenty-first century. With the past serving as prologue, The University of Montana stands ready and poised to meet the challenge.
George M. Dennison, ’62, ’63
President and Professor of History
UM Grad To Serve As Obama Deputy Chief Of Staff
James A. Messina ’93, Takoma Park, Md., who served as campaign chief of staff for President Barack Obama, was appointed deputy chief of staff following the election. Messina served as former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana; North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota; and U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York. This fall he was listed among “The Five Most Important People in American Politics Not Running for President” by Time magazine.
UM Attracts Big-Time Conferences
If you are a premier student scientist or prominent environmental journalist, it’s likely UM will be your destination of choice in 2010.
Society of Environmental Journalists board members, with Flathead Lake Biological Station Director Jack Stanford, tour the station on their site visit in June 2007.
That’s because the University has earned the chance to host two prominent national conferences that year: the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (April 15-17) and the Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference (October 13-17).
NCUR will bring up to 2,800 students and their faculty mentors to UM. This is the second time UM has hosted this massive event. During the 2000 conference, people from 216 colleges and universities in forty-two states attended, pouring an estimated $1.5 million into local coffers.
The conference features about fifty simultaneous offerings in many academic disciplines. Some of the best university students in the nation will present their work in fifteen-minute oral talks, poster presentations, live performances, or gallery exhibits.
“This is a feather in the cap for UM and the whole city of Missoula,” says Janie Spencer of Continuing Education, one of the conference organizers. “Every discipline will be represented—from dance and art to the sciences.”
Montana has never before hosted the prestigious SEJ conference, which will flood Missoula with more than 700 journalists, scientists, and environmental leaders. SEJ members include Pulitzer Prize winners, and the conference is expected to generate many national stories about Montana’s breathtaking beauty, lifestyle, accommodations, and environmental challenges.
Before the main conference begins, many SEJ members will attend a news writing boot camp offered by UM’s highly regarded School of Journalism.
The conference co-chair is Jim Bruggers, a graduate of UM’s J-school and Environmental Studies Program who now works as an environmental reporter for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.
Free Speech On Film
During World War I, free speech died in Montana.
Fueled by wartime hysteria, state legislators in 1918 implemented the oppressive Sedition Act, which criminalized speaking negatively about the U.S. government or the war effort. The law was used to convict, fine, and imprison dozens of people. Montana’s Sedition Act was the toughest of its kind in the nation and served as the model for a U.S. law passed the same year.
Now a powerful documentary tells the story of those who were convicted under the draconian law. Jailed for Their Words: When Free Speech Died in Wartime America premiered at UM on September 30 and aired on Montana PBS in October and again in December.
The film was produced by West of Kin Productions and the UM School of Journalism. It is based in part on UM journalism Professor Clemens Work’s 2005 book, Darkest Before Dawn: Sedition and Free Speech in the American West.
Work co-produced the film, which was directed by filmmaker Gita Saedi Kiely and narrated by actor and UM alum J.K. Simmons.
Through interviews with free speech experts, historians, and descendents of the convicted, the documentary tells a cautionary tale of what can happen when citizens lose their rights as fear, super-patriotism, and hatred consume a nation.
In May 2006, based on Work’s book and the extensive research of UM journalism and law students, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer pardoned seventy-eight men and women who served time for speaking out against the war.
That same year, UM School of Journalism Professor Jerry Brown approached Saedi Kiely about creating a documentary based on Work’s book and the pardons.
“I was immediately interested,” Saedi Kiely says. “And with Clem’s book and the sedition project under way, having the research completed before production was just amazing and so helpful in really putting together our story trajectory.”
“…it is a message about free speech that goes beyond Montana”
Work began collaborating with Saedi Kiely and was involved in virtually every stage of the film’s making, from writing the narration and script to providing research and conducting interviews with family members of the convicted.
“Even though we wanted to tell a story about the Sedition Act,” Saedi Kiely says, “we felt its emotional strength really fell onto the stories of the people most affected by the law. So our film became a very personal one—about a handful of the men and women imprisoned under the Sedition Act and taking these stories and connecting them with our world today.”
Retail copies of the documentary were released in December, and Work says the filmmakers are now looking to screen the movie in other states and enter it in film festivals.
“At this point we are trying to get it beyond Montana,” he says, “because it is a message about free speech that goes beyond Montana.”
A Passion For Painting
Renowned Montana artists and School of Fine Arts alumni Monte Dolack ’74 and Mary Beth Percival ’68 will be honored this spring during UM’s School of Fine Arts ninth annual Odyssey of the Stars—A Celebration of Artistic Journeys. Scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18, the event benefits the fine arts scholarship fund. Odyssey of the Stars showcases performing and visual arts alumni who have gone on to successful careers in the arts, in concert with current UM students.
Monte Dolack and Mary Beth Percival
Partners in life and art, Dolack and Percival have been fixtures on the Montana arts scene for more than thirty years. Both are native Montanans who were influenced from an early age by the landscape and culture surrounding them. Ask about their time at UM and the teachers who influenced them, and you will hear names of well-known art professors and artists such as Rudy Autio, Don Bunse, and Maxine Blackmer. While on campus, Dolack produced cartoons for the Montana Kaimin, sold his pottery at the first-ever UC Art Fair, and designed posters for Aber Day keggers. Percival worked for Information Services designing covers for numerous campus publications and posters for campus events.
Desiring to be an abstract painter but facing the reality of making a living, Dolack painted signs and designed T-shirts, album covers, posters, menus, and rubber stamps. In his own words, he went from “fine art to applied art out of necessity.” Missoula in the ’70s had a vibrant alternative art scene. Dolack’s logos for businesses such as Butterfly Herbs, the Trailhead, Rishashay, and the Crystal Theatre defined these ventures, and his work soon became part of Missoula’s identity. His famous posters of Bogart and Bacall, done for the Crystal Theatre, won him acclaim beyond the borders of Montana. Dolack opened his first studio with other artists in 1974, when he co-founded the Warehouse cooperative.
His Invaders Series, showing wild animals wreaking havoc on the human environment, helped build Dolack’s national reputation and continues to attract collectors. He has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards in the course of his career, and his work is part of the collection of the Library of Congress, the American Association of Museums, and the National Wildfire Foundation. He has exhibited in locations that include New Zealand, Ireland, China, and Japan.
Percival was raised in a family brimming with artistic talents. Her parents, both UM alumni, encouraged her interest in the visual arts. A third-generation Montanan, Percival grew up in the Big Hole and Boulder valleys. Arriving in Missoula in 1963, she was influenced by the times. Drawing inspiration from beatniks to the Vietnam War, she found Missoula’s art community diverse and exciting. After three years at UM, Percival went on to study at San Francisco State College, where she was exposed to both the art and the liberal thinking of 1960s San Francisco. Percival returned to UM to receive her art degree. After earning her teaching credentials, she taught art at Belgrade High School. She returned to Missoula in the ’70s and, together with Dolack, carved a very big niche in the Western Montana art scene. By the early ’80s, Percival and Dolack were publishing their own work, which led to the opening of their first gallery above the famous Missoula watering hole, the Top Hat.
Percival is best known for her watercolor paintings, many of which show a strong bond to the country where she grew up. She chooses intimate views of that big country, scenes that are experienced by lingering near streams and riverbanks and exploring trails that beckon into hidden mountain worlds. Her paintings also celebrate simple pleasures of daily life. In the late ’80s, Dolack and Percival began traveling to exhibit their work and paint on location. Their journeys have taken them to all corners of the globe. Today, they operate a flourishing gallery in downtown Missoula, where they exhibit their own work.
Odyssey 2009 will be an evening of art, music, and dance honoring Dolack and Percival and spotlighting students from the departments of art, drama/dance, and music, with assistance from Department of Media Arts students. For sponsorship and ticket information, call the School of Fine Arts dean’s office at 406-243-4971.
Where’s Your GRIZ Been?
Son Brett Traxler (left), dad Mark Traxler ’91, and sons Tanner and Austyn Traxler (right) show off their Griz gear near the Motley Crue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this summer. “We had people in Hollywood ask us if we had just come from a game!” writes Nettie Powers Traxler ’91, wife and mom.
Congratulations, Traxler family. You’ve won a $50 gift card to The Bookstore at UM.
Do you have a photo sporting your Griz gear in an amazing place? If so, send it along with a brief description to: email@example.com. Winners will receive a $50 gift card to The Bookstore at UM and see their winning photo published in the Montanan. To be considered, photos must be in focus with the UM or Griz logo clearly visible.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Coach Selvig Appears On Commemorative Postmark After 700th Win
The difference of the game was only one basket in overtime, but senior Mandy Morales’ jump shot clincher with 0.7 seconds left on the clock was enough to reel in history for her coach.
Robin Selvig (above) celebrates his 700th victory with a commemorative postmark and envelope (bottom), which is available in Missoula from the U. S. Postal Service.
With the 59-57 win over Illinois on November 26 at the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico, Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig left the court with a milestone number in his total-wins column—700.
When the team gathered around him after the game, sentiment was running strong. “Coach got really emotional,” Morales remembers. “He said that we were a great group of ladies and a great group of ballplayers as well.”
Now in his thirty-first season with his alma mater, Selvig is the fifth-fastest coach in NCAA men’s or women’s coaching history to reach 700 wins. Of all active Division I coaches, Selvig ranks seventh in games won. Among those, he is the only coach to have collected each victory for the university where he was once a student-athlete.
The impact he has had on his players over the years isn’t as easily quantified. “I’ve learned so much from him, from high school until now, my senior year,” Morales says. “I mean, he’s got 700 wins, so he’s doing something right.”
To celebrate the historic benchmark, the U.S. Postal Service issued Selvig a rare honor—his own commemorative postmark and envelope. The idea was first floated by Missoula postal carrier and longtime Lady Griz fan Roger Hutchens. Hutchens suggested the commemoration to his supervisor, Margie Snook, who was sure that Selvig’s 700th victory was a worthy occasion. Snook spent two months getting authorization from Washington, D.C., and finally arranged for 2,000 envelopes to be printed and for the postmark to be available for free until early January.
“When he brought it to my attention, I thought (Selvig) warranted it,” Snook says. “(Seven hundred victories) is a great achievement. The record basically speaks for itself.”
Missoula’s main post office at 1100 W. Kent Ave. will sell envelopes for $5 while supplies last.
As for Selvig, he never imagined that he would one day appear on an official U.S. Postal Service envelope. “It’s kind of different,” he says. “But some very thoughtful people put that together, and we’re grateful.
“It feels good,” Selvig says of his 700-victory mark. “We’re proud of our program, and we’re proud of this year’s team.”
The Lady Griz coach says he is not striving for any particular additional coaching benchmarks. “Those milestones are something to look back on,” he says. “Now we’re just focusing on winning our next game. That’s how we work around here.”
Up With Copper And Gold, Boys
The Grizzlies shocked fans when they ran out onto the field at Washington-Grizzly Stadium wearing throwback colors of copper and gold during the 108th meeting between the Griz and the Montana State University Bobcats. The Griz beat the Bobcats for the sixty-eighth time in a 35-3 victory November 22.
Meet Grizwald, The University of Montana’s cartoon bear. In the last issue of the Montanan, we asked readers to submit captions explaining Grizwald’s actions in a funny way. This issue’s winning caption was sent in by Lynette Patterson. Congratulations, Lynette, you’ve won a Griz stadium blanket!
Stay tuned! In the spring issue of the Montanan, a new cartoon featuring Grizwald will need a caption. You could be the next winner!