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UM News
November 26, 2012


The Rural Institute at The University of Montana will interview two finalists in early December for the institute’s director position. Tom Seekins and Martin Blair will visit campus and present open forums for the UM and Missoula community.

The director of the Rural Institute will oversee the operation of the Center for Excellence in Disabilities, Research and Service. The Rural Institute’s objective is to increase the independence, productivity, community integration and inclusion of those with disabilities through education, research and demonstration services. Major projects of the Rural Institute include the Montana Deaf-Blind Project, Montana Disability and Health Program and MonTECH.

The open-forum schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 4: Tom Seekins, 3:10 p.m., Skaggs Building Room 246.
  • Friday, Dec. 7: Martin Blair, 1:30 p.m., Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences Room 241.

Seekins is a professor in the UM Department of Psychology and has served as director of research at the Rural Institute since 1988. He also has served as director of UM’s Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities since 1993. Prior to joining UM, Seekins worked as a research associate at the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas and as a project director, coordinator and researcher in other programs. From 2007 to 2010, Seekins was a member of the American Psychological Association Guidelines Task Force for the Assessment and Treatment of Persons with Disabilities. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UM and he received his master’s and doctorate in psychology from the University of Kansas.

Blair currently is the associate director for the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education within the Center for Persons with Disabilities in the Utah State University College of Education and Human Services. He also serves as the associate director of the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center, funded by the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education; steering council chair for Utah Interagency Outreach Training Initiative for the Center for Persons with Disabilities; and adjunct assistant professor in the USU Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation. Before beginning his current positions in 2008, Blair served as the assistant director for policy and development for the Center for Persons with Disabilities and held project director and principal investigator positions as various organizations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in special education, a master’s in secondary education and a doctorate in education/disability disciplines, all from Utah State University.

For more information call head of the search committee UM College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Jenny McNulty at 406-243-4458 or email Candidate’s curriculum vitae are available online at, and more information on the Rural Institute is available at





Contact: Jenny McNulty, associate dean, UM College of Arts and Sciences, 406-243-4458,