The Magazine of The University of Montana
Around the Oval
A Natural Fit
Wildlife Biology Program Celebrates Seventy-Five Years
Famed grizzly bear researcher John J. Craighead attended the celebration. Craighead, who has a wildlife biology endowed chair in his honor at UM, headed the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit during his twenty-five-year tenure with UM.
Photos by Todd Goodrich
Scores of University of Montana alumni from around the country gathered this past September to celebrate three-quarters of a century of wildlife curriculum on campus.
“This Wildlife Biology Program is just getting better and better every year,” says UM Provost Perry Brown. “It is a celebration of what has really been a signature program here at The University of Montana. This program is clearly outstanding.”
UM President Royce Engstrom cited the quality of faculty, the level of student engagement, and private-sector involvement in the program’s success.
“This is one of the finest programs in this country and maybe even the world for this field,” Engstrom says.
The event included a series of lectures and the premiere of a film illustrating the history and honoring the founders of the program. Alumni also celebrated by attending a social hour with current students and faculty, a tailgate party before the Griz football game against Liberty University, and a field trip to the National Bison Range and the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge.
Jack Ward Thomas, the former Boone and Crockett endowed chair who served as chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 1993 to 1996, and Joel Berger, the current John J. Craighead endowed chair, spoke of their time at UM and the research they conducted. Nora Carlson and Morgan Sparks, both seniors, also shared their experiences as students in the program.
UM’s Wildlife Biology Program is a cooperative program among the College of Forestry and Conservation, the Division of Biological Sciences, and the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit.
“The program is a natural for the University, for Missoula, and for Montana,” says Dan Pletscher, director of the Wildlife Biology Program. “It’s pretty hard to beat, given that we still have the species that were here when Columbus landed.”
Many alumni of UM’s Wildlife Biology Program gathered on campus this past September. Since it began in the mid-1930s, the program has grown to be one of the largest at UM.
The Wildlife Biology Program originally was created in two departments. The Forestry Department established the first program in 1936, and the Division of Biological Sciences, then known as the Zoology and Botany Department, began offering a similar program in 1937. UM’s wildlife biology programs were among dozens of similar programs that began in the 1930s.
“We weren’t the first, but we were one of the earliest programs,” Pletscher says. “There was definitely a ground-swelling of these programs across the country at that time.”
According to Pletscher, in 1970 UM “recognized that it didn’t make a lot of sense to have two programs” and combined them to form the cooperative program that exists today.
The Wildlife Biology Program is one of the largest at UM—last spring’s enrollment consisted of 362 undergraduate students and fifty-eight graduate students. Pletscher estimates that some 2,500 UM alumni to date have gone through the Wildlife Biology Program, with more than 1,800 of them still alive. The most senior alum to attend the anniversary celebration was a member of the Class of 1957.
Sheridan Stone ’76, a wildlife manager for Army installations in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., says that he will probably attend the next anniversary party.
“People in Montana, they always come home, and not just people who were born here,” Stone says. “We just can’t stay away.”
“We wild-lifers come from proud stock,” Jack Ward Thomas says. “We have a hard-earned and advanced role to play. I believe, even after the progress of the last seventy-five years, we’re just getting started.”
UM Welcomes five New Cabinet Members
UM President Royce Engstrom filled several key cabinet positions before spring semester, welcoming candidates from around the country to join the University administration. New leaders, including two internal hires, are joining UM from Stanford University, New Orleans University, Angelo State University, and the private sector.
Cabinet positions filled include Vice President for Integrated Communications Peggy Kuhr, Vice President for Administration and Finance Michael Reid, Chief Information Officer Matthew Riley, Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship Scott Whittenburg, and Director of Athletics Kent Haslam.
Kuhr served as the dean of UM’s School of Journalism since 2007 before being appointed interim vice president in August 2012. She had a twenty-six-year career in newspapers and joined the University of Kansas in 2002 as Knight Chair on the Press, Leadership, and Community.
Kuhr and another key hire, Assistant Vice President for Marketing Mario Schulzke, will constitute the reconfigured Office of Integrated Communications and spearhead the ongoing branding efforts at UM. Kuhr also will serve as the publisher of the Montanan.
Schulzke has extensive experience helping organizations and businesses define their marketing and digital strategies, and also is the founder of IdeaMensch, a digital publication with the mission of helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. Both began their duties in January.
Reid, currently the vice president for finance and administration at Angelo State University in Texas, will begin his new duties March 25. The VP for administration and finance oversees UM departments such as the Adams Center, Business Services, and the Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis, and is responsible for all administrative and financial support activities within the University.
Riley will begin at UM on April 8 after serving as director of information technology at the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University since 2007. The CIO provides strategic vision and leadership to the main UM campus and works with the other affiliated campuses on information technology issues, policies, infrastructure, and technology investments.
Whittenburg began his duties in early January, and formerly was the vice president for research and economic development at the University of New Orleans. The VP for research and creative scholarship supports the educational and research mission of UM through advocacy and advancement of basic and applied research, creative work, and academic scholarship.
Haslam, formerly the associate athletic director for development with the UM Foundation, began his duties in September. [Read more about Haslam below.]
“The cabinet members joining UM’s administration will bring a fresh perspective and energy as we continue to work toward our strategic plan goals,” Engstrom says. “We are happy to welcome so many talented new colleagues.”
The President’s Perspective
Leadership is among our core values at The University of Montana. This issue of the Montanan features leadership at a variety of levels and across the broad spectrum of ideas and disciplines at UM.
First, I take great pride in the Montanan itself, as it demonstrates leadership in the world of university publications. Recent articles from the Montanan were recognized with both a Gold and a Bronze Award for feature writing by CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. We are proud of our staff at this magazine. With every issue, we all learn more about the tremendous accomplishments of our faculty, students, and graduates.
The administrative leadership at UM is undergoing quite an exciting change this year. I invite you to read about these new leaders who are joining the cabinet. Adjacent to this column are brief introductions to people who will be key in taking the University to the next level. Working together across campus, this leadership team will focus on realizing the goals in our strategic plan, UM2020: Building a University for the Global Century. These leaders are individuals who already have accomplished a great deal in their respective careers. We welcome them aboard!
Missoula College, formerly called the College of Technology, represents a leader in two-year education. The most direct route through higher education to the workforce, Missoula College offers programs in the trades, business, health care, technology, and associate of arts coursework. Among our highest priorities for the current legislative session is to secure funding for a new facility for Missoula College. The students, faculty, and staff have long outgrown the current building, and they deserve better. Missoula College will be the first building on the new South Campus, the area designated for long-term growth of the University. The South Campus will become an attractive, well-designed campus that serves the needs of generations of students to come.
From Missoula College to outstanding programs such as media arts to innovative efforts to assure students are welcome and safe here, we demonstrate leadership every day at UM. We’ll take time on February 13 to recognize academic leadership with a program called Celebrate Academics!, which will be held in conjunction with our annual Charter Day celebration.
Royce C. Engstrom, President
Haslam Named New Athletic Director
After conducting a nationwide search, President Royce Engstrom named Kent Haslam UM’s director of athletics.
Haslam, who was associate athletic director for development with the
UM Foundation, started his new duties in September.
“I believe Kent Haslam is the right person to lead The University of Monta na athletic program into one of national distinction for athletics, academics, and campus and community involvement,” Engstrom says.
“I am honored to be named the new director of athletics at UM,” Haslam says. “I have tremendous respect for the tradition and history of this great University and look forward to helping advance the overall mission of UM.
“I believe strongly in the role that college athletics plays on a university campus—a role that unites, builds pride, and serves the student-athletes and community. I look forward to advancing a vision focused on academic success, athletic excellence, and community service,” he says.
Haslam worked for the UM Foundation since January 2006, directing and managing all fundraising activities for the University’s intercollegiate athletics department. He managed a portfolio of more than 150 donors, helping solicit and secure six- and seven-figure gifts to benefit athletics and joint gifts to support other programs across campus. He also was a key team member for funding recent expansions and improvements to Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
UM’s 2001 national champion football team became the newest addition to the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame this past September. Many members of the ’01 Griz attended the induction ceremony, which was held at the Holiday Inn Downtown. The team also was introduced before the Grizzlies’ game against Liberty University, and Dave DeCoite carried the jersey of former teammate and star defensive end Tim Bush, who was killed in a mining accident in 2010. A few weeks after the ceremony, the 2001 Griz lost another member when Curt Colter, second from right, died from heart disease. Colter was a standout defensive lineman. The Griz posted a 15-1 record in 2001, including a fourteen-game winning streak that culminated with a dominating 13-6 win over Furman in the title game at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Photo by Cary Shimek
Grizzlies Hold Highest Student-Athlete Federal Graduation Rate in Big Sky
The NCAA recently announced that UM scholarship athletes who enrolled in the 2005-06 academic year hold the highest federal graduation rate in the Big Sky Conference. According to the UM Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the 77 percent graduation rate is the best in recent years.
Federal graduation rates count student-athletes a success if they graduate from their original school within six years.
“In theory it’s a pretty straightforward formula,” UM Director of Athletics Kent Haslam says. “Recruit the right type of student-athletes, help them achieve both in the classroom and in competition, and applaud when they graduate four or five years later. But we all know it’s not that easy. This type of graduation rate only happens because of a lot of hard work by our coaches, academic staff, and student-athletes. This is fantastic recognition for everyone who plays a role in the process.”
UM’s most successful program for the 2005-06 class, both athletically and academically, was football. The Grizzlies won Big Sky Conference regular-season championships in 2005, ’06, ’07, ’08, and ’09, and played for the national championship in both 2008 and ’09.
Ninety percent of the players in that class graduated from Montana within the required six-year window, the highest rate in the UM athletic department.
Odyssey of the Stars Honors Local Artist
Photo by Todd Goodrich
scholarship event, Odyssey of the Stars—A Celebration of Artistic Journeys.
This year’s show, Fabric of Life, will start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, in the George and Jane Dennison Theatre. Odyssey of the Stars pays tribute to UM performing and visual arts alumni by telling the story of their artistic journeys and showcasing the many different roads to success an artist can travel. The show features the work of UM students and faculty from the schools of Art, Media Arts, Music, and Theatre & Dance, with Erickson as the honoree.
Erickson, who lives in Missoula and owns Dancing Rabbit Studios, has made fabric constructions, quilts, paintings, and drawings since the 1960s. Her work reflects the relationship between humans and animals and how we coexist. She received her bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Iowa, and both an M.A. and M.F.A. in painting from UM. She has participated in more than 500 exhibitions across the globe, including in Mexico, Japan, China, Germany, Niger, Myanmar, France, Costa Rica, and New Zealand.
The Montana Museum of Art & Culture will show Nancy Erickson: Kindred Spirits, along with Follow that Thread: Fashion and Textiles from the MMAC Permanent Collection, through April 20. Erickson will give a talk about her work at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, in the Montana Theatre.
Erickson also hosts the Pattee Canyon Ladies Salon, a group of local female artists who meet twice monthly to develop their skills and provide encouragement. The group’s work will be exhibited in An Evening with the Pattee Canyon Ladies Salon, presented by MMAC, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, in the Montana Theatre.
Erickson and her dealer/gallerist Don Mundt agreed to support student scholarships by donating thirty-five percent of sales made from her exhibition at Missoula’s Montana Art and Framing around the time of Odyssey.
Proceeds from Odyssey of the Stars benefits UM’s College of Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship Fund. Since its inception, Odyssey of the Stars has funded scholarships for 465 visual and performing arts students at UM. For information call the College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean’s Office at 406-243-4970, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.umt.edu/umarts/odyssey.
New Residency Program Brings Doctors, Jobs to Western Montana
Montana has an aging health care workforce, and forecasts suggest the state will start losing twenty-two primary care doctors to retirement each year starting in 2014.
In an effort to lessen the effects of this looming rural health care challenge, UM has partnered with medical providers in Missoula and Kalispell to create a new family medicine residency program. UM officials were notified in October that the program has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana will launch this summer with as many as ten graduate physicians starting a three-year residency program. Up to ten residents will be added each year thereafter, creating a program that eventually will train thirty resident physicians at a time, says Larry White, UM associate professor and director of the Western Montana Area Health Education Center.
“This is a wonderful collaboration between UM and health care providers in western Montana,” says UM President Royce Engstrom. “It will begin the process to increase the number of primary care physicians for rural Montanans and be part of a long-term solution to our physician shortage.
“This program had to meet rigorous standards, and receiving accreditation is the recognition that this training will be of the highest quality,” Engstrom says.
“There are about fifty-two jobs associated with this project, and the average salary will be about $70,000 per year,” says White. “This will be a huge economic boost for western Montana.”
UM’s College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences will coordinate the program. UM’s partners in the effort are Community Medical Center, St. Patrick Hospital, and Partnership Health Center, all in Missoula, and Kalispell Medical Center.
“The creation of a second family medicine residency in Montana is the most effective mechanism available to improve access to medical care in rural Montana,” says Dr. Ned Vasquez, who will direct the program. “Our mission is to select and train family doctors to serve the many rural communities in the state that are chronically in need of physicians.”
Back to School
Kittredge Returns to Serve in Namesake Professorship
UM Regents Professor Emeritus William Kittredge reads a chapter from his newest book this past October in Turner Hall’s Dell Brown Room.
Photo by Todd Goodrich
Regents Professor Emeritus William Kittredge lived up to his own legacy this past autumn semester, serving as the Kittredge Visiting Writer for UM’s Creative Writing Program. The position, created in honor of Kittredge upon his retirement in 1997 after twenty-nine years of teaching in the program, brings a distinguished author to campus for one semester each year to teach and mentor graduate students.
Kittredge, now eighty years old, says he always enjoyed teaching graduate students and prefers to conduct his class more like a conversation than a lecture. The opportunity also helps him stay in touch with “the under-eighty world,” he says.
Gil Filar, a second-year, fiction-track master’s student in the program, appreciated the conversational tone of Kittredge’s workshop course. Aside from in-class, roundtable discussions, Kittredge met each student at The Break Espresso downtown for a thirty-minute, one-on-one conversation the day after the workshop to further discuss the story.
“He talked a lot about a through-line,” Filar says. “A constant motivation or theme of the story that needs to be developed.”
Filar went through the workshop process three times throughout the semester. Though this can be stressful and even agonizing for writers, the positive, improvement-driven feedback from Kittredge and the other students was more inspiration than punishment. After each workshop and follow-up discussion, Filar felt energized to develop his stories, rather than burn the copy.
“I found it an incredibly positive experience,” Filar says. “He’s very enthusiastic about our work.”
That perfect blend of writing chops, accessibility, and passion for teaching—coupled with some wild stories, such as being locked in a car trunk for two days or hanging out with Raymond Carver—are what make Kittredge a longtime favorite of UM students.
In addition to teaching, Kittredge delivered a prose reading to a packed audience in Turner Hall’s Dell Brown Room in October. In his classically gruff style, he treated the crowd to a chapter of a new novel-in-progress.
“I’m working on a mixed fiction/nonfiction book about continuing to evolve as you age,” Kittredge says. “About continuing to work because it forces you to locate and understand yourself.”
Aside from this project—with the working title Another Summer to Run—Kittredge continues to write shorter pieces and says he’s getting close to another book of stand-alone stories.
The Kittredge Visiting Writer position is funded through the UM College of Arts and Sciences, honoring Kittredge’s legacy as a western writer and personal essayist, whose books include Hole in the Sky: A Memoir, We Are Not in This Together, and Who Owns the West?
After completing autumn semester at UM, Kittredge is teaching a graduate class at the University of California, Irvine, where he taught in 2009. He plans to return to Montana for the summer.
Stephen Kalm, dean of UM's College of Visual and Performing Arts, sings “If I Were a Rich Man” in his role as Tevye in the November production of Fiddler on the Roof. The play was a collaboration of UM’s schools of Music and Theatre & Dance. “Playing Tevye was a great opportunity to work with students and study and perform a great role. It reminded me again of the centrality of the arts in our culture and the human experience. I emerged from Fiddler on the Roof with greater resolve to advocate for the importance of arts in education.”
Photo by Terry Cyr
The Bottom Line:
Missoula’s ranking on the Top College Towns list, according to the American Institute for Economic Research College Destinations Index
UM’s freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, the highest in the Montana University System
Record number of international students enrolled at UM for the 2012-13 academic year
UM School of Law’s place on National Jurist magazine’s list of “Best Value Law Schools” in the nation
Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player awards won by UM soccer players—Lauren Costa on defense and Erin Craig on offense
Notable & Quotable
Photo by Todd Goodrich
In the weeks before and since the 2012 presidential election, the grassroots technology infrastructure built by President Barack Obama’s campaign team has been credited with changing the future of politics in America. The man behind those groundbreaking tactics: UM alum Jim Messina. Messina, who earned political science and journalism degrees from UM, served as Obama’s deputy chief of staff during his first term and stepped up as his campaign manager for the hard-fought 2012 election. He shared this story with Sally Mauk of Montana Public Radio: The day after the election, Obama went to campaign headquarters in Chicago to thank Messina and his staff and volunteers. In a rare show of emotion, Obama teared up reminiscing about his own early days as a community organizer. Messina describes it as one of the most amazing moments of the entire campaign. “And I remember being an undergraduate here at UM, and not knowing my place in the world, and being a young community organizer, organizing mobile home parks in Missoula, and wanting to just be part of something bigger than me. And you know, I got to do that, the president got to do that—lots of people here in Missoula are going to get to do that, because of a good education, because they’re going to work hard, and because of the opportunity this country offers. And that was a reminder to everyone that this is still the greatest country on Earth, and we can still make it if we try.”
Two UM students recently were selected to intern with members of the Scottish Parliament. Larissa Monckton, a senior from Rocheport, Mo., studying political science and communications, and Haley Rondeau, a senior from Black Diamond, Wash., majoring in political science and minoring in international development studies and anthropology, began their four-month internships in Scotland in early January. Each student is assigned to a different Parliament member. They research topics of interest to the member such as economics, environment, drugs, crime, education, rural issues, affordable housing, and trade with Europe and the European Union.
The UM community remembers Lawrence “Tony” Wertz, loyal UM friend and supporter, after the August car accident that took his life. Wertz was raised in Missoula and graduated from UM in 1965. His love for UM was a family tradition—with generations before and after him holding degrees from his alma mater. He served UM in many ways, most recently as vice chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and was scheduled to become chair in September. A memorial service was held in Wertz’s honor in October. Several hundred people attended, including dozens of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers. To contribute to the scholarship fund in Wertz’s honor, call Ric Thomas at 800-443-2593 or email email@example.com.
“There is no end to raking in knowledge—or leaves—at The University of Montana.”
Meet Grizwald, The University of Montana’s cartoon bear. In the fall 2012 issue of the Montanan, we asked readers to submit captions interpreting Grizwald’s actions in a humorous way. This issue’s winning caption was sent in by Hayat Comporesi of Harwinton, Conn. Congratulations, Hayat, you’ve won a Griz stadium blanket.
Stay tuned! In an upcoming issue of the Montanan, a new cartoon featuring Grizwald will need a caption. You could be the next winner!
Artwork by Neal Wiegert
Facetime: Georgia Gould ’03
Photo by Colin Meagher, courtesy of Georgia Gould
UM alum Georgia Gould is one of the top mountain bikers in the world.
How did you first get into mountain biking? When I moved out to Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1999, I was not a heavy smoker, but I was a smoker, and I decided that I was going to quit smoking and get in shape. So I started running, and out on the trails I would see people mountain bike, and it was such a good way to see more of the trails, so I tried, and I just really, really liked it. It really clicked. The next year I did my first race, and I quickly moved up in the ranks, then I tried racing pro. In 2005, I decided to follow the national series and see how I would do. By the end of the season, I was ranked ninth in the series. I got a phone call from the team manager of the Luna team asking me to be on the 2006 team, so that was the first year I was on a big team. It was a big step up. I continued to get better, and I ended up winning the national championship that year, which was kind of a surprise for everyone. I’ve raced on the Luna team since then, and I went to Beijing [in 2008] and London [in 2012] for the Olympics.
Was it a big decision to commit to professional biking? It definitely was. I gave it a year in 2005. I was still working part-time and doing the whole race series and was broke, very broke. I was literally like I can’t keep going on like this; it’s just not sustainable. When I got the offer from Luna, it was a great opportunity to have a little bit more support, and as I got better, I could actually make a living doing it, which is awesome. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to do this for my job.
How were the teams chosen for the Olympics? Every sport has its own selection criteria, and it was different for the U.S. Team for Beijing and for London. For London, you could automatically qualify by winning one of the first four World Cups or by being one of the top ten riders at series. It’s definitely a little stressful because the top seven ranked countries get two spots and the next eight get one spot, so for the whole U.S. there were only two spots for the women’s team. I had a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, so I just barely missed the automatic qualifications, but then I was the top-ranked American, so I qualified automatically that way.
Have you mountain biked in any other countries other than the U.K. and China? Yeah, I’ve been to New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Canada, all over Europe, South Africa. So yeah, I’ve been quite a few places.
Is it much different biking in places like London and Beijing as opposed to the U.S.? The cool thing about my sport is that it’s so different in so many different places. Obviously there are similarities like rocks and stuff like that, but each course has its own personality, its own flavor. So that’s what makes it such a challenging sport and what keeps it interesting for me.
How did your time at UM prepare you for your life as a champion biker? I’d already gone to school for a year in North Carolina before I transferred to UM. The lifestyle of living there was definitely a big reason why I initially transferred there and why I stayed. It helped to prepare me with having that balance in life where you’re going to school, but there’s other stuff, too—just to have a well-rounded focus on your studies, but go out for a hard ride or run.
Is this what you thought you would do with your life? No, definitely not. Definitely not. I didn’t really have a vision of what I would be doing, so I’m glad something came along. I have no idea [where I would be without biking]. I honestly don’t. It’s been awesome. I don’t look at mountain biking as the only thing; I feel like if I didn’t find mountain bike racing, I would have found something else. I don’t think it’s the be-all, end-all of who I am. I’m sure once I retire from mountain bike racing that I’ll find something else that I can enjoy doing. There are a lot of other things that I like doing and things that I’m good at. I’m sure I’ll be able to find something.
What’s next on your agenda? I’ve been racing since the Olympics, so I just keep racing. It’s my job. People ask, Are you going to Rio? and planning that far ahead sounds tiring. I’ll be on the Luna team for another four years, and hopefully by the time the qualification starts for Rio, I will be in the running. But if I’m not having fun with it anymore, I might do something else. At this point, I’m just keeping on with what I’ve been doing. It’s been working out well for me so far.