At the completion of the 2007-2008 academic year, Dr. Gary Behm, chair of the MSU Billings Department of Music, retired and was awarded Professor Emeritus status. During his distinguished, thirty-year career, Dr. Behm worked passionately on behalf of Montana State University Billings, its students, and the expansion of music appreciation in the Billings community.
Dr. Behm has been the definitive face of the Montana State Billings Department of Music for the better part of the past three decades. During his tenure, Behm served as an assistant, associate, and full professor, and was department chair for 27 years. Dr. Behm’s deep commitment to his department and students is evident in the large number of former students who keep in touch with him, remember him fondly, and consider him their mentor. Dr. Behm’s commitment is also demonstrated through his ongoing financial support of MSUB.
Dr. Behm grew up in Iowa and received his Bachelor of Music degree and M.A. from the University of Iowa and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Behm came to then Eastern Montana College in 1979. Throughout his career he has taught music theory, aural skills, band, jazz, instrumentation and arranging, conducting, form and analysis, woodwind performance, and woodwind pedagogy.
One of his proudest accomplishments is his work with the MSU Billings pep band at Yellowjacket basketball games. Dr. Behm has been instrumental in the pep band’s performances and they have been a Yellowjacket tradition for many years. In addition to performing with the MSUB pep band, Dr. Behm is well known for a variety of public performances. He was a former clarinetist with the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras. He has been the principal clarinetist with the Billings Symphony Orchestra since 1980, has been a member of the faculty at the Red Lodge Music Festival for the past 14 years, has served as principal and co-principal clarinetist for the Flathead Orchestral Festival, and is a founding member of the Yellowstone Chamber Players.
Despite his impressive performance accomplishments, he is most comfortable as teacher, mentor, conductor, and fellow musician to the hundreds of music students who have studied, practiced, and performed in Cisel Hall. However, he has done more than mold students’ talents. Through his consistent, generous philanthropic support of the music department, Dr. Behm has helped ensure that MSUB music students have access to the best equipment, newest technology, and quality instructors.
During his tenure at MSUB, Dr. Behm has contributed more than $20,000 through the annual Campus Faculty/Staff Giving Campaign. In addition, he has been one of the most enthusiastic fundraisers for the department. Over the years, he has been a fixture at the annual Alumni Phonathon, connecting with alumni and raising much-needed funds. He has worked on fund-raising projects to increase music scholarships, to build a new recording studio, to purchase new instruments, and to support the Yellowjacket Pep Band.
Dr. Behm’s efforts have paid off. The MSUB Department of Music regularly graduates award-winning students who go on to exciting music careers or are accepted for graduate studies at prestigious institutions. The new recording studio in Cisel is state of the art. The music department has been given five grand pianos in as many years, including a C. Bechstein that gives MSUB piano students access to one of the most sought-after instruments in the world.
Dr. Gary Behm will truly be missed. His many years of dedication, hard work, and generosity have left lasting imprints on the university; the community; and the lives and hearts of students.
Annual gifts are used for immediate needs such as scholarships, classroom supplies, laboratory equipment, computers, library materials, and basic operating costs. Annual Drive for Excellence contributions are the most direct way to impact the lives of current students. In addition, matching gifts are an excellent way to increase your donation and make an even bigger impact. For additional information on the Annual Drive for Excellence or matching gifts please contact the MSU Billings Foundation, 406-657-2244 or 888-430-6782.