Public Invited to UM’s Charter Day Events Feb. 12

February 05, 2015

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will celebrate its 122nd birthday on Thursday, Feb. 12, with a noon-hour party and an evening Charter Day awards ceremony and reception. 

The birthday festivities are held each year to celebrate the anniversary of UM’s chartering by the Montana Legislature in 1893 and to honor the University and its dedication to excellence. All events are free and open to the public. 

The noon-hour birthday party, which will feature free cupcakes and entertainment, will be held in the University Center Atrium. The annual Charter Day awards ceremony, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom, will recognize exemplary campus and community members. 

Missoula Mayor John Engen will attend the evening awards ceremony to present an official proclamation of University of Montana Day. A reception will follow the ceremony. 

UM Provost Perry Brown will preside over the presentation of 2015 Charter Day awards to the following recipients:

Montana Alumni Award: Don C. Cowles III is owner of Wild West Shirt Company. This award recognizes a former UM student for extraordinary service to the University. Cowles graduated from UM in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and opened a small T-shirt shop in West Yellowstone in 1967. His wholesale business now includes two printing facilities and two retail shirt stores. He is a member of the UM President’s Advisory Council and the National Advisory Board for Grizzly Athletics.

Associated Students of UM Student Service Award: Mike Hopkins is a fourth-generation Montanan studying public administration at UM. This award recognizes distinguished service and achievement. Hopkins is the lobbyist for ASUM and has served the organization in various roles, including senator, business manager and student resolution officer.

Robert T. Pantzer Presidential Humanitarian Award: Stephen Kalm is dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and professor of music at UM. This award recognizes those who create a more humane learning environment at UM. Kalm has performed in numerous national and international venues and received a New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award for his performance in Meredith Monk’s opera “The Politics of Quiet.” 

Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award: Deborah Doyle McWhinney is CEO of Citigroup’s global enterprise payments. This award recognizes extraordinary effort to foster an understanding of UM’s needs and strengths throughout the community and the state. McWhinney is a C-level business leader and champion of financial services innovations. She has built a career in driving value for customers and investors globally.

Tom Boone Town and Gown Award: Karen Ruth Adams is associate professor of political science at UM. This award recognizes faculty members who foster a deeper understanding between the University and Missoula. Adams has served for 10 years as the faculty adviser to the Montana Model United Nations High School Conference and award-winning Traveling Team.  

Outstanding Volunteer Award: Wilena Old Person (Yakama/Blackfeet) is program coordinator for the Native American Center of Excellence. This award recognizes the contribution of many hours of uncompensated time to UM to help meet the needs of the campus community. Old Person is co-adviser and volunteer for the Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association and has served as chair of the Missoula Indian Community as well as volunteer board member for the Missoula Indian Center. 

Outstanding Service to the External Community Award: Nancy Noel Marra is the former director of field experiences for the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. This award recognizes exceptional service to the off-campus community and positive contributions to the overall mission of the University. Each year, the Office of Field Experiences collaborates with schools in the immediate area and across the globe to connect more than 1,000 teacher candidates with high-quality clinical placements.

John Ruffatto Memorial Award: Shawn F. Clouse is professor in the Department of Management Information Systems in the School of Business Administration. This award recognizes UM faculty who bring practical, applicable business principles into the classroom. Clouse teaches project management and integrated business simulation and has research publications on information privacy, website usability, utilizing technology for teaching and learning, and using technology for customer service.  

George M. Dennison Presidential Faculty Award for Distinguished Accomplishment: Ronald H. Wakimoto is professor of forestry at UM. This award recognizes distinguished accomplishments that have brought significant recognition to UM at the regional and national levels. Wakimoto teaches academic courses in wildland fire management, fuel management, fire ecology and urban forestry, has served as a technical adviser to the National Fire Policy Review Team, and has conducted extensive fire training in the Kingdom of Bhutan. 

George M. Dennison Presidential Staff Award for Distinguished Accomplishment: Cary Shimek is communication manager for University Relations at UM. This award recognizes distinguished accomplishment within the employee’s work unit that brings excellence, merit, distinction or glory to UM. Shimek also serves as managing editor for UM research publications and the annual President’s Report, while assisting with the Montanan magazine, the main UM homepage and University social media efforts.  

For more information about Charter Day events, call Angela Weisenburger, UM Office of Alumni Relations on-campus events coordinator, at 406-243-6439 or email

Contact: Angela Weisenburger, UM Office of Alumni Relations on-campus events coordinator, 406-243-6439,