University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings Upward Bound Director presented with esteemed regional award

October 27, 2014


University Relations, 657-2269  


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings Upward Bound program Director Dan Benge was awarded the Art Quinn Award from the ASPIRE Region of TRIO—the highest regional award one can receive from the association.


Dan Benge at the awards ceremony

The Association of Special Programs in Region Eight, or ASPIRE, awards professionals who have shown a long-term dedication to assisting TRIO-eligible students in a manner that extends well beyond general expectations and project guidelines.


Benge has been MSUB’s Upward Bound program director for 17 years— a dedication his colleagues say makes him stand out from most.


“There’s no question that ASPIRE and TRIP are better off for the efforts of Dan Benge,” one nominator states in a nomination letter. “I have a deep level of respect and admiration for his commitment to college access in Montana, the ASPIRE region and our nation.”


The letter goes on to say that under his leadership, the TRIO staff at MSU Billings has been very active and engaged in advocacy and can always be counted upon to do what is necessary to bring awareness to the importance of our efforts and the costs of ignoring our underprivileged students.


“Dan’s passion for the mission includes a strong belief in adhering to the highest standards of practice of professionalism so as to provide the most benefit to students,” the letter states.


Recipients of the Art Quinn Memorial Award are nominated and selected by the ASPIRE executive board. Nominees are long-term ASPIRE members who have excelled in providing services and support to the association and on behalf of TRIO programs and recipients at the institutional, state, regional or national level.


Benge was recognized in part because of his lengthy career serving TRIO students, as well as serving in roles as a regional ASPIRE President, member of the COE Board of Directors, Montana Government Relations Chair, and member of numerous committees at the state, regional and national levels. 


“What stands out most about Dan, in my opinion, is the incredible amount of time he has volunteered as a leader at the state, regional and national level,” an executive ASPIRE board member states. “ASPIRE is a better organization for all the time, effort, and energy Dan has given it.  I think he’s made a tremendous contribution in moving us toward a higher degree of professionalism and accountability, and is part of the reason ASPIRE is so highly regarded throughout the country. 


“Less often seen is his huge heart and his passion for TRIO students, but I know his belief in educational opportunity is the driving force behind the leadership work he does.  I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive the 2014 Art Quinn Award.”


PHOTO ABOVE: Dr. Dan Benge, MSUB Upward Bound director, was honored Oct. 14 at the ASPIRE Regional meeting in Grand Forks, N.D and was presented with the 2014 Art Quinn Memorial Award from the ASPIRE region of TRIO programs—the highest regional award one can receive from the association.