University Relations and Communications

An enduring legacy

August 19, 2013



Chancellor’s Office, 657-2300
Aaron Clingingsmith, University Relations and Communications, 657-2243


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — MSU Billings Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer, Marilynn Miller, has announced she plans to retire at the end of 2013.


Miller began her tenure with the MSU Billings Foundation on February 1, 2000.  She previously served as the executive director at Billings Area Catholic Education Trust and director of development at the Yellowstone Art Museum before that.


Marilynn Miller

“I have loved my career,” said Miller.  “From a purely professional perspective, the highpoint of my tenure at the MSU Billings Foundation was the success of the first-ever comprehensive campaign for Montana State University Billings, the People, Pride & Promise Campaign, which raised $30.1million.”


Miller’s numbers are staggering when you put them in historical perspective.  During her 13-year tenure net assets at the foundation have grown from $7.9 million to just over $22 million.  Endowed assets more than tripled from $6 million to $19 million.  Scholarship dollars awarded each year were increased from $432,000 to $1.3 million annually. 


“Portfolio managers across the country would be envious to have produced that much wealth for their clients in such a short time period,” commented Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services, Terrie Iverson.  “The best part is that Marilynn’s clients are MSUB students.”


For all of Miller’s financial accomplishments, it is the human aspect that she will miss most.  “I have been privileged to be a member of the platform party during MSUB commencements: watching the hundreds of graduates receiving their diplomas walk one by one across the stage in front of me, excited, well-prepared and ready to take on the world is inspiring,” she says.  “That’s what it’s all about: improving people’s lives.”


Miller improved the lives of more than just MSUB students.  “It is amazing to think about Marilynn’s spheres of influence,” noted MSU Billings Chancellor Rolf Groseth. “Whether it is a student who needs assistance, a faculty member who is looking for program support, a local business person searching for a way to make a lasting difference, or a legislator who needs guidance, Marilynn resonates with each of them.  She can work with anyone and most importantly is respected by everyone.”


Miller has left the foundation in the perfect position to take the next evolutionary step.   “I was blessed to work with a superb board, professional and effective staff, as well as many loyal and generous donors,” said Miller.   “The next president & CEO of the foundation not only will have the advantage of taking the reins of a nonprofit corporation that is fiscally robust, but also will enjoy the unusual benefit of working with an excellent professional advancement consultant from the Gonser Gerber firm, with whom the foundation has contracted for the next couple of years.  This is a wonderful opportunity for a qualified higher education advancement professional. “


When asked about Miller’s accomplishments, former Chancellor Ron Sexton remarked, “Quite honestly, she is the most remarkable development and fundraising person we have in Billings.  I was fortunate that I had a front-row seat for many years to witness the magic of Marilynn.  She is extremely passionate about our institution and that passion is infectious, which is why it was almost impossible to tell her no.”


“Marilynn put the MSUB Foundation on the map and has given the organization a strong presence in the community,” commented current Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Tim Schruth.  “I marvel at how she is able to maximize the potential and productivity of a board consisting solely of volunteers.  It is quite a testament to Marilynn and the rest of the staff at the foundation.”


Her presence will be missed most of all by the talented staff she has worked alongside for so many years.  “Marilynn is the ultimate mentor,” said Jill Hirschi, Director of Donor Relations and Annual Giving.  “She is someone who handles every situation with grace.”


Many of us will look back on our careers and take pride in making a difference in the lives of those we have known.  Marilynn Miller will get to look back on her career and think about the difference she will make in the lives of those she will never have the chance to meet.


A national search for a new president and CEO will commence on September 15.  MSU Billings would like to announce a successor prior to Miller’s departure on December 31, 2013.  “It is our intent to move swiftly, said Chancellor Groseth. “It would be wonderful for the next leader we select to have an opportunity to learn from the best in the business.  The MSUB family wishes Marilynn and her family all the best. She will be greatly missed but we take solace in knowing she is only a phone call away.”


PHOTO ABOVE: Marilynn Miller