University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings marks 82nd commencement convocation this weekend

April 28, 2009


Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


872 candidates for graduation make up the class of 2009


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings expects 872 students will receive degrees during the university’s 82nd commencement, set for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 2, at MetraPark.

MSU will confer degrees on candidates for graduation for the 2008-09 academic year, according to Cheri Johannes, director of admissions and records. 


Degrees will be conferred by Dr. Ronald P. Sexton, Chancellor at MSU Billings, for candidates in five of the university’s colleges:

  • College of Allied Health Professions:  98 candidates for graduation
  • College of Arts and Sciences: 281
  • College of Business: 126
  • College of Education:  141
  • College of Technology: 226

""The commencement address this year will be provided by Tim Cahill, an award-winning adventure and travel writer from the Livingston area. 

A founding editor of Outside magazine, Cahill is the author of scores of magazine articles and nine books, including “Pecked to Death by Ducks,” “Jaguars Ripped My Flesh” and “Lost in My Own Backyard: A Walk in Yellowstone.”


He began his travel writing in 1975, a time when the subject matter had only a small appeal. Cahill, however, knew that there was a literate audience for his style of writing and he has experienced wide success since, both in magazine and book formats.


“Some of my magazine pieces,” says Cahill, “seem like old friends staggering in a bit late to a dinner party. A few of them may be limping or have an arm in a cast. Some of them are guys who have been lost in the desert, who have been beaten up by sacred Himalayan rivers, who have suffered a crisis of courage in a cavern half a mile underground. Some of them drink too much or laugh too loud. There are in entirely too good a mood.”


In addition to his writing, Cahill is also co-author of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “The Living Sea” as well as the IMAX films “Everest” and “Dolphins.”


Others who will address graduates at commencement include Rob Barnosky, of Whitehall, president of the Associated Students of Montana State University Billings; Dr. Janine Pease, representing the Montana Board of Regents; Dr. Mary Moe, Deputy Commissioner of Two-Year Education in the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education; and Julie Seedhouse, director of Alumni Relations.


Also at commencement exercises, longtime faculty member Dr. William Plank will be honored with emeritus status.  Plank retired last December after teaching for 41 years in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at MSU Billings.


The MSU Billings Commencement Convocation Procession will be led by: Grand Marshal, Dr. David Davison, professor of educational theory and practice; Faculty Marshal Dr.Agnes Samples, assistant professor of health and human performance; and Graduating Senior Marshals Wayne Scharnhorst from Billings and Gillette Vaira from Lambert, Mont., as they walk down the aisle framed by members of the 2009 Ivy Guard.


Dressed in white and holding garlands of ivy, the select Ivy Guard members form an honor guard during the academic procession and recession.  Continuing a longstanding tradition at MSU Billings, the Ivy Guard members are outstanding women students who have demonstrated good scholarship and service to the university through academic and extracurricular activities. Members are chosen each spring, following nomination by members of the faculty.

MSU Billings’ first Ivy Guard was organized in 1963 to serve as an honor guard at the annual Awards Convocation. The Ivy Guard's participation at the Commencement Convocation began in 1966. Sue Hart, professor in the Department of English and philosophy, is the Ivy Guard coordinator. The 2009 Ivy Guard leaders are Amber Kelly-Nash and Amy Marcotte, both of Billings.


A barbecue-reception honoring the graduates will be held in the Student Union Building on the MSU Billings main campus (1500 University Drive) following commencement.


A regional, comprehensive liberal arts university with six colleges, MSU Billings is located in the state’s largest city — the regional hub for business, industry, communications and health care. MSU Billings offers unique advantages, including real-world education through on-the-job internships in hundreds of careers.


With an enrollment of about 4,900 students, MSU Billings is able to provide students individual attention award-winning professors, while offering more than 160 academic options ranging from two-year programs to a variety of master’s degree options. The university also continues to be Montana’s leader in online education.


For more information about this year’s commencement exercises, call the MSU Billings University Relations office at 657-2269 or visit the website at


Back to Top