University Relations and Communications

2014 Outstanding Alumni honored March 14, 2014

March 17, 2014



Sarah Brockel, Alumni Relations, 247-5780
Aaron Clingingsmith, University Relations, 657-2243


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings Alumni Association honored six of its leading graduates during the 32nd annual Outstanding Alumni Awards.


The alumni awards event was set for Friday, March 14, and recognized the accomplishments of alumni who have used their education to excel professionally, provide inspirational leadership to others and provide service for the benefit of MSUB and the community.


Outstanding alumni are recognized in three categories:

  1. Distinguished Alumna: Honors an alumnus/a who has distinguished himself or herself through personal, professional and civic contributions, while bringing a sense of honor, pride and recognition to the University community.
  2. Alumni Merit Medallion: Honors an alumnus who is dedicated to the advancement of education, exemplified by his or her commitment of professional expertise and/or volunteer service to Montana State University Billings.
  3. Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Honors two alumni who have distinguished themselves in fields ranging from business, professional, education, volunteer service to a community, public or civil service, or arts and sciences having impacted those fields while bringing a sense of pride and recognition to the University community.

Past recipients of these awards have included persons who have exhibited unusual courage, creativity, perseverance, originality of competency in their chosen field; raised the quality of life for others; contributed to and promoted the advancement of higher education; or distinguished themselves as leaders in their profession or area of interest. 


This year’s recipients are:


Thomas PowellDr. Thomas Powell, Distinguished Alumnus. Dr. Powell graduated from MSU Billings (then Eastern Montana College) in 1976 and 1979 with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in special education. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Powell worked with several programs for adults with special needs including the YWCA and Yellowstone County Special Education Cooperative Services. Powell has been very involved in the special needs community and during his time as a student he ran one of the first group homes for adults with disabilities in Billings. Powell and his wife Irene also opened Support and Technology for Empowering People (STEP). STEP is a community-based program that helps families to maintain their child with developmental disabilities in their home. He presently serves as they 24th President of Mount Saint Mary’s University.


Thomas PowellLenette Kosovich, Merit Medallion Award. Kosovich graduated from MSU Billings in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. While working as the Director of Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, the Regional Director for the Health Access Call Center, and the Human Resources Director for St. Vincent Health Care, Kosovich obtained her master’s degree in health administration. She works as the CEO of the Rimrock Foundation. 


Thomas PowellJoe Harrington, Recognition for Exceptional Achievement. Harrington graduated from MSU Billings in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and received a master’s degree in mental health and rehabilitation counseling in 1992. He is a case manager with the Mental Health Center, based out of The HUB. 


Thomas PowellTom Ferro, Recognition for Exceptional Achievement. Ferro graduated from MSU Billings (then Eastern Montana College) with a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in English in 1977 and a master’s degree in school counseling in 1980. Tom is currently a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in private practice. 


Thomas PowellGayle Carter, Exceptional Achievement. Carter graduated from MSU Billings (then Eastern Montana College) with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1968. She has been involved in a variety of organizations including GFWC Billings Junior Woman's Club, Billings Education Association member (Teacher of the Year 2003) and Friends of the Billings Public Library 


Thomas PowellBrent Roberts, Ronald P. Sexton Award for Professional Commitment to the University. Roberts serves as the Director of the MSU Billings Library. He received his master’s degree in public relations in 2008. This award is named for former chancellor Dr. Ronald P. Sexton and will be awarded periodically to alumni who dedicated their professional careers to serving students and the university. 


For more information about the awards and the Alumni Association visit or contact Sarah Brockel, Director of Alumni Relations, at 247-5780.