UM Charter Day Ceremony to Honor Exceptional Campus, Community Members

February 02, 2017

MISSOULA – University of Montana President Sheila Stearns invites the campus and Missoula communities to join in UM’s 124th birthday celebration during the annual Charter Day awards ceremony and reception at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, in the University Center Ballroom.

Charter Day, which marks the anniversary of the University’s chartering by the Montana Legislature in 1893, celebrates the strong connection between the UM and Missoula communities. The awards ceremony, sponsored by UM’s Office of Alumni Relations, will honor eight exemplary campus and community members who help further UM’s dedication to excellence. The ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception featuring birthday cake and other refreshments.

The Charter Day awards ceremony will honor the following individuals:

ASUM Student Service Award: Peter Breigenzer. This award recognizes distinguished service and achievement. Breigenzer graduated from UM in fall 2016 with a double degree in organismal biology and ecology and in environmental studies. A Presidential Leadership Scholar, he also was a member of the UM Wilderness Association and 1000 New Gardens. His future plans include attending graduate school for evolutionary biology and traveling as much as possible.

George M. Dennison Presidential Faculty Award for Distinguished Accomplishment: Elaine Hightower Gagliardi. This award recognizes distinguished accomplishments that have brought significant recognition to UM at the regional and national levels. Gagliardi is a professor in UM’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law who teaches business law and estate planning. She currently serves as associate dean of students and as director of the law school’s Montana Tax Institute, and she previously has served as academic associate dean and clinic director.

George M. Dennison Presidential Staff Award for Distinguished Accomplishment: Kathleen Whetzel. This award recognizes distinguished accomplishment by an employee that brings excellence, merit, distinction or glory to UM. Whetzel joined the UM School of Journalism staff in 2003. She has served on Staff Senate, the University Athletic Committee, the Faculty/Staff Award Planning Committee and the Inter Unit Benefits Committee and currently works as a UM Campus Wellness Champion. Whetzel began working on her bachelor’s degree as a nontraditional student, taking one class at a time, until she decided to quit work and go to school full-time. She worked as a student employee in the president’s office under President George Dennison. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Business Administration in 1998 and her master’s degree in public administration last December.

John Ruffatto Memorial Award: Justin Angle. This award recognizes UM faculty who bring practical, applicable business principles into the classroom. Angle is an assistant professor of marketing in UM’s School of Business Administration. His academic research focuses on how people express their identities through consumption behaviors. He is particularly interested in the unconscious effects of social and marketing factors on attitude and behavior. The Journal of Consumer Research, International Journal of Research in Marketing and Journal of Consumer Psychology recently published his findings, and ESPN, The Washington Post and Sports Illustrated have reported on his work.

Montana Alumni Award: Brandon L. Gebhardt. This award recognizes a former UM student for extraordinary service to the University. Gebhardt earned a Master of Accountancy degree from UM in 2014 and works as a senior auditor at JCCS PC in Missoula. In addition to serving the UM Alumni Association as a House of Delegates outreach volunteer, a committee member for the Boots to Beaches fundraiser and a Homecoming Parade judge, Brandon is the current president of the Missoula chapter of the Montana Society of CPAs.

Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award: Mike McDonough. This award recognizes extraordinary effort to foster an understanding of UM’s needs and strengths throughout the community and the state. McDonough retired after a long career in telecommunications, which included serving in several executive-level positions at GTE (now part of Verizon). His volunteer service to UM includes serving as board chair of UMAA, board chair and investment committee chair for the UM Foundation and a member of several presidential advisory committees. He and his wife, Mary, currently sit on the UM Flathead Lake Biological Research Station advisory board.

Outstanding Service to the External Community Award: Todd Goodrich. This award recognizes exceptional service to the off-campus community and positive contributions to the overall mission of the University. Goodrich, UM’s official photographer, has captured images of campus, students, faculty, athletics and special events for more than 25 years. His photos appear in UM publications, websites, social media, and other UM communications. Over the course of his career at UM, he has photographed U.S. presidents, musicians like the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, every national championship football game in which the Grizzlies have played, Nobel Prize winners and even a NASA rocket launch.

Robert T. Pantzer Presidential Humanitarian Award: Jasmine Zink Laine. This award recognizes those who create a more humane learning environment at UM. Laine coordinates academic policy, curriculum proposals, and institutional assessment and accreditation in UM’s Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. She uses her passion for people to advocate for improved internal communication, employee engagement and leadership development at all levels. She co-authored “Recommendations for Improving Internal Communication at UM” with Claudine Cellier and Gordy Pace in May 2014. Together, they continue to reach out to colleagues across campus to build community and engagement.

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

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