UM to Present Two Honorary Doctorates in May

March 08, 2019

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will confer two Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters during its May 4 Commencement exercises.

The degrees will go to Denise Juneau, the Montana superintendent of public instruction from 2009 to 2017, and Dr. William “Bill” Reynolds, a beloved doctor who served the Missoula area for four decades.

“I wholeheartedly support both of these distinguished individuals to receive honorary doctorates from the University of Montana,” President Seth Bodnar said. “Both illustrate how a UM education leads to fulfilling lives of leadership and impact.”

Denise JuneauJuneau graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from the UM law school in 2004 and has gone on to have a significant and positive influence both in Montana and nationally. She served as Montana’s first female Native American elected to a statewide executive office as Montana superintendent of public instruction.

In that role, she stewarded initiatives that helped transform the lives of Montana students through effective and evidence-based instruction. She also served as the director of Indian Education Division, playing an instrumental role in the Montana constitutionally mandated implementation of the Indian Education for All program.

“Her leadership taught Montanans how to be better partners to our tribal communities and taught our country the importance of inclusive and culturally humble education,” Bodnar wrote in his nomination. “Juneau has been a role model to many, and we are grateful and proud that she is now expanding her scope of influence as the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.”

Raised on Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Juneau is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara) in North Dakota. She earned a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education before earning her UM law degree. She also became the first openly gay person to run for the U.S. House of Representatives during the 2016 election.

Bill and Joanne ReynoldsA Havre native, Reynolds, earned a pre-med undergraduate degree from UM in 1952. He ran varsity track and served as student-body president his senior year before graduating with a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

Reynolds attended medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, where he met

and married Joanne “Jo” Flanagan, a registered nurse working at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He earned his M.D. in 1956. He then completed his internship at University of Minnesota Hospitals (1956-57), as well as an internal medicine fellowship and Master of Surgery degree at Mayo Clinic during 1957-59 and 1961-63. The family moved to Missoula in 1963.

Reynolds had a distinguished career in medicine, serving not only as a doctor practicing internal medicine and endocrinology at the Western Montana Clinic for nearly 40 years, but also as president of Western Montana Clinic and of St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center Hospital staff.

A beloved doctor who also devoted his time as clinical faculty for the University of Washington WWAMI multistate medical education program, Reynolds is the recipient of many honors, including the Alfred Stengel Award for Outstanding Service to the American College of Physicians.

Following his retirement from full-time practice, he continued to serve as governor of the American College of Physicians-Montana Chapter and later as the president of the American College of Physicians. In tandem with his impactful professional career, Reynolds also has been a tireless community advocate, playing an active role in more than 20 community organizations.

At UM, Bill has served on the UM Foundation board of directors, the Davidson Honors College advisory board and the College of Humanities and Sciences advisory board. In 2015, the annual teaching award for teaching across the curriculum by the humanities college was renamed the William Reynolds Teaching Award in his honor.

“We are very lucky to count him as one of the University of Montana’s friends,” Bodnar said.

For more information about UM Commencement, visit


Contact: Paula Short, director of communications, UM Office of the President, 406-243-5608,