May 2, 2018


Chris Nelson


MSU Billings announces commencement keynote

MSUB alumnus and Zoot Enterprises Owner Chris Nelson to provide key address during University’s 91st annual commencement



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — The keynote speaker for Montana State University Billings 91st Annual Commencement this Saturday will be alumnus Chris Nelson. MSUB will confer 789 certificates, associates degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees during the commencement ceremony, which will be livestreamed. The ceremony will be held at MetraPark at 10 a.m.


Nelson is known as a trailblazer in the loan approval business and is a prime example of the excellence that can develop from an education at MSUB.


Born and raised in Billings, Chris Nelson has come a long way since the day he graduated from Eastern Montana College (EMC) in 1978. Using his accounting and information systems degrees to take him to new heights, he has become an established leader in the loan approval business.


Shortly after his graduation from EMC, Nelson acknowledged the urgent need of an automatic, but efficient loan approval system in the financial services industry. He worked to create the software that is now Zoot Enterprises, based in Bozeman, Mont. Under the leadership of Nelson, the company has grown into a multimillion-dollar empire. Since its founding in 1990, Zoot has developed the ability to gather and analyze credit information in seconds. While serving seven of the top ten financial institutions in the U.S., Zoot processes over 350 million loan applications annually.  Nelson has made significant contributions to both the industry and his own company, and has won several industry awards for doing so.  


Nelson will likely deliver a powerful statement about his time on campus, life lessons, and inspiring advice for the students graduating.


Nelson and his wife, Rebekah, make their home in Bozeman. Among his many accolades, he takes most pride in his son, Shawn, who has joined his father in the Zoot business as its business manager, his granddaughter, and his best friend, Izzy—an energetic Australian Shepherd who accompanies him to the office every day.


Prior to Commencement, individual colleges will hold Convocations to celebrate their graduating students and announce their outstanding students for the year. Convocation schedules are as follows:


Thursday, May 3, 2018

  • 6 p.m. - City College - HSCT Great Room - Reception to follow

Friday, May 4, 2018

Reception to follow each convocation in Rimrock Café

  • 8:30 a.m. - Allied Health Professions - Cisel Recital Hall
  • 11 a.m. - College of Business - Cisel Recital Hall
  • 1 p.m. - Arts & Sciences - Petro Theater
  • 4 p.m. - College of Education - Petro Theater