Public Invited to UM’s Charter Day Events

February 08, 2016

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will celebrate its 123rd birthday on Thursday, Feb. 18, 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, featuring 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 2016 Charter Day awards to the following recipients:

Montana Alumni Award: Marcia Holland. This award recognizes a former UM student for extraordinary service to the University. Holland is a former UM Alumni Association board president and is an active volunteer in the Missoula community. She graduated from UM in 1972 and worked as a public defender in Alaska for 22 years. She returned to Missoula and is an adjunct professor at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at UM. She was instrumental in reviving the Hello Walk on campus at Homecoming and volunteers for UMAA’s annual fundraiser, Boots to Beaches. She has served on several nonprofit boards and currently chairs the Missoula County Public Schools board of directors.

Associated Students of UM Student Service Award: Bryon Boots. This award recognizes distinguished service and achievement. Boots is a UM senior double-majoring in management information systems and international business. He has participated on UM’s Model United Nations team for three years, and he and 11 other students will travel to New York City this spring to represent UM at National Model United Nations. Upon graduation, Boots will work in the IT advisory department for KPMG in Portland, Oregon.

Robert T. Pantzer Presidential Humanitarian Award: Deena Mansour. This award recognizes those who create a more humane learning environment at UM. Mansour is the associate director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at UM, where she draws on her experiences as a former diplomat to create opportunities to support the center's mission of mutual understanding between the U.S. and Asia and ethical public policy and leadership. Since 2009, she has successfully brought more than $5 million in international exchange grants to UM.

Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award: Nelson Weller. This award recognizes extraordinary effort to foster an understanding of UM’s needs and strengths throughout the community and the state. Weller, who graduated from UM in 1958, is a retired financial analyst and longtime University supporter. He has promoted the excellence of UM for decades through volunteer service, mentorship and contributions to UM’s Presidential Leadership Scholarship.

Outstanding Service to the External Community Award: Sara Polanchek. This award recognizes exceptional service to the off-campus community and positive contributions to the overall mission of the University. Polanchek is clinical director of the Department of Counselor Education in UM’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. In her role, she orchestrates and oversees more than 2,000 hours of direct counseling services each semester. Her diligent work and ongoing connections allow counselor education students to inject 4,000 hours of counseling into the community each year.

John Ruffatto Memorial Award: Sam Panerella. This award recognizes UM faculty who bring practical, applicable business principles into the classroom. Panerella is an associate professor in the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at UM and director of the Max S. Baucus Institute. His teaching emphasis is on educating law students on the doctrinal and practical aspects of business law, including contract negotiation, business transactions and organizational dynamics.

George M. Dennison Presidential Faculty Award for Distinguished Accomplishment: Vince Colucci. This award recognizes distinguished accomplishments that have brought significant recognition to UM at the regional and national levels. Colucci is a professor of pharmacy practice at UM. He has conducted research, published manuscripts and lectured in the area of cardiovascular pharmacotherapeutics. He also manages an anticoagulation clinic at Providence-St. Patrick Hospital and serves as a drug therapy consultant and specialist for Western Montana Clinic. 

George M. Dennison Presidential Staff Award for Distinguished Accomplishment: Barb Seekins. This award recognizes distinguished accomplishment within the employee’s work unit that brings excellence, merit, distinction or glory to UM. Seekins is the assistant director of UM Foreign Student and Scholar Services and has worked in international education and disability advocacy for 25 years. A tireless champion for the ideals of equality and diversity, she has served on numerous UM committees and has chaired the Americans with Disabilities Act Team since 2002.

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,