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All about our students

‘CLASSY’ COMMENCEMENT

Maria Robinson

Photo by Dave M. Shumway, RMC ‘07

Rockwood Brown, a longtime member of the RMC Board of Trustees, read the article in The Billings Gazette about one of RMC’s 2009 graduates and said, “This is terrific. This is the perfect example of what we can accomplish here.” That is sufficient endorsement for this month’s featured student: Maria Robinson is not a typical graduate. Nor was she a typical student. The single mother of two sons took seven years to earn her degree and she earned it the hard way, working around the clock. Her weekdays started at 4 a.m. when she arrived at Rocky for her “day job” as a custodian. She took on the job because it promised free tuition. Some classes were in the middle of her work schedule, meaning she had to make them up later. The eight-hour custodian job and her class schedule exhausted her some days, she said. She felt like quitting. But, encouraged by a mentoring faculty, she not only persevered, but earned academic honors. She will share an honor with one of her sons – while she graduates from Rocky, he will graduate from Billings Senior High School. “When I came here I wasn’t sure I had a future. My Rocky family has made me see a future for myself.”

Photo by Dave M. Shumway, RMC ‘07

Ann-Margret, John, B. Mowell, Thorm R. Forseth, and Maryann L. Reese received honorary doctorates during the 127th Rocky Mountain College Commencement, May 9.

A Big Star and a Big Class Mark 127th Commencement The 127th Rocky Mountain College Commencement presented the largest graduating class in the 131year history of the College when 229 students were awarded their diplomas, May 9, 2009, in the Fortin Education Center. Four distinguished guests were presented with honorary doctorates during Commencement. AnnMargret, star of stage, screen and television, was awarded an honorary doctorate in music and performing arts; John B. Mowell, Chairman and President of EMS Technologies, one of the world’s premier satellite technology companies, received an honorary doctorate of aviation; Maryann L. Reese, the Commencement keynote speaker, who is the Chief Operating Officer for St. Vincent Healthcare, received an honorary doctorate of

allied health; and Thorm R. Forseth, an alumnus, ardent supporter of the College, and Chairman of the RMC Board of Trustees, received an honorary doctorate of humanities. (Please see Big Star, Big Class on back page)

Photo by Dave M. Shumway, RMC ‘07

To cheers from her children, Heather Peers was a proud recipient of a Master in Educational Leadership degree, one of the charter class members that received a master’s degree in this new program. Heather, the mother of three, teaches at the Billings Career Center, but with her new degree will be able to pursue opportunities in school administration.


Insider The Praise from Others is a Wonderful Endorsement As parents, we all know how wonderful it is when someone else praises our children. We love to brag about our own kids and tell others about their achievements, but when someone else says, “Boy, you’ve got a terrific daughter,” or “I was talking with your son and he is really an impressive young man,” the parental pride knows no limits. I thought about that during our College’s 127th Commencement last week. I beamed watching students I have enjoyed knowing for four years walk into Fortin Education Center for a climactic moment in their lives. I was proud to know this was our largest graduating class in the College’s 131-year history. It was exciting to witness our charter class of graduates in our new Master of Educational Leadership Program; to see members of our national championship basketball team finish out successful academic careers that match their successful athletic careers; to gratefully regard a long list of new physician assistants who will be playing critical roles in health care at a crucial time; to feel tears well up when Katie Kitchen gave her speech as one of the President’s Cup winners and to have that immediately countered by the wonderful humor and bright talent of Andy Babb’s performance as the other President’s Cup winner; and to personally and proudly congratulate all 229 new alumni as they accepted their diplomas. If that was not enough to make a college president feel fine, it became even better when others praised our students, our faculty, our staff, our work – our College. “I became acquainted with Rocky Mountain College’s aviation program first because it is my life interest, and I can tell you Rocky’s program is second to none,” said John B. “Jack” Mowell, who was one of our guests receiving an honorary doctorate. Mr. Mowell, a new member of the RMC Board of Trustees, is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of one the pre-eminent satellite technology companies in the world, EMS Technologies. His company – with 2,000 engineers – will play an integral role in landing the first manned module on Mars. Praise from a man of his experience and stature is truly remarkable. Since that first introduction to RMC via the aviation program, Mr. Mowell said he had become better acquainted with the entire institution and he continued to be impressed with the students, faculty, staff and others associated with Rocky. Maryann L. Reese, the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Executive Vice President for St. Vincent Healthcare, echoed Mr. Mowell’s assessment of Rocky. Ms. Reese, this year’s Commencement speaker, said she considered an invitation to speak at Rocky to be one of the highlights of her career. “I can’t think of a greater honor,” she said. Ms. Reese said she knew that a graduate of Rocky is “among the elite,” and that the training to think that RMC inculcates in its students is what will continue to separate them from the average. Our esteemed Chairman of the Board of Trustees, in his quiet and thoughtful way, stated he was humbled to be able to serve his alma mater. Thorm Forseth, a successful businessman who has served Rocky faithfully as a board member, as an alumni association president and as chair, was thanking us for the opportunity to serve! Why? Because he knows “what a great institution this is, with marvelous students learning from a remarkable faculty.” And last, but certainly not least, Ann-Margret, one of the premier stage, film and television performers of our time said she could not have been better honored than she was at Rocky. She said in interviews she was impressed by the “passion” she saw in our students. She remarked on the pride she felt to help Rocky with its scholarship fund raising events. From others whom I met and talked with during this very eventful Commencement week – parents and patrons alike – I heard similar praise for the College. As a parent who hears from others about how wonderful his children are, so I felt as president of this College. The praise from others certainly validates what we know: Rocky Mountain College is an extraordinary place. Best regards,

Michael Mace, RMC President

Coming Attractions 2009 FRIDAY, MAY 29 Open House in Virginia City Hosted by Rocky Mountain College (Kick off Rocky’s first season at the historic Opera House and 60th Anniversary of the Illustrious Virginia City Players ) Tickets: Jesse Murphy 406-208-2429 jesse.murphy@rocky.edu FRIDAY, JUNE 19 RMC 2009 Alumni Golf Tournament Peter Yegen Golf Course 1 p.m. To register, call 406-657-1005 SATURDAY, AUGUST 22 All Euro Car Show Sponsored by Absaroka Region Porsche Club (Open to all European sports cars and sedans - vintage or contemporary) RMC Green Information: Fred Magers 406-245-6733 abs.pres@gmail.com SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10 RMC 1990’s Class Reunion For more information call 406-657-1005

Rocky Mountain College 1511 Poly Drive Billings, Mont. 59102 1-800-877-6259 www.rocky.edu


Focus on Faculty & Staff

Dr. Dale Zimdars Closes a 44 Year Career at RMC When Dale Zimdars first came to Rocky Mountain College, the country was embroiled in an unpopular war, the Soviets were the first to have an astronaut walk in space, and Muhammad Ali was just beginning his long reign as a heavyweight boxing champion. By the time Dr. Zimdars retired this May, the U.S. totally eclipsed the early Soviet leads outside the earth’s orbit, the U.S. was trying to extract itself from a different unpopular war, and Muhammad Ali was regarded as the last champion of international notoriety. “Yes, I’ve witnessed a lot of changes,” Professor Zimdars said at his retirement reception, honoring his 44 years at Rocky. “One thing that did not change was my enjoyment of this College. It was a good place to teach and I enjoyed being here.” Dr. Zimdars was “a good colleague, who offered gentle guidance and support,” said fellow history and political science professor, Dr. Tim Lehman. “He was an exacting teacher, but was admired for his quiet, soft spoken sense of humor.” Lehman said Dr. Zimdars was well traveled and well versed in current issues. “He took excellent photos of his trips to Russia. We discussed global warming, the impact of climate change, the ongoing unrest in the Middle East, and he knew his stuff,” Lehman added. Zimdars earned a B.A. from North Central College, a B.D. from Evangelical Theological Seminary, and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Chicago. Academic Vice President Anthony Piltz congratulated Dr.

Dr. Dale Zimdars, photographed with a living rhinoceros during a trip to Kenya, retired after 44 years as a professor of history and political science at RMC. Dr. Zimdars amused colleagues and students with a Photoshop version of this photo featuring him in a pith helmet with a rifle.

Zimdars on his retirement and presented two gifts – one was an RMC keychain with a key to Alden Hall, and the second was an RMC computer mouse pad. “We hope you continue to come to your office in Alden so someone will keep ‘Doc’ company,” he joked, referring to Dr. James McDowell, who has taught at Rocky for as many decades as Dr. Zimdars. The mouse pad was also given in a lighter vein, because Dr. Zimdars had often bemoaned the lack of funds for new computers. “Thank you all for coming,” he told the crowd gathered in the Great Hall of Prescott Commons. “Now, let’s all enjoy the food.”

Focus on Alumni & Friends

RMC Alumni Back For Second Act PHOTO: Jesse Murphy, RMC’s Community Relations Liaison, admires wine with a commemorative Virginia City Players and RMC logo, from the Merry Cellars in Pullman, Wash. Rocky alumnus Patrick Merry provided the celebratory wine, which is being used as part of a special sponsorship package to help fund the new partnership between the oldest college in Montana and the oldest professional acting company for the 60th Anniversary of the Virginia City Opera House. Murphy, a 2007 RMC graduate and winner of the prestigious RMC President’s Cup, is working in Virginia City to help launch the 2009 season. Photo by Dave M. Shumway, RMC ‘07

In the exciting new adventure Rocky Mountain College undertakes this summer with the Illustrious Virginia City Players in historic Virginia City, Montana, RMC alumni are eager to come back for their “second act.” After RMC President Mike Mace and RMC Theater Director Gerry Roe decided to make history by joining Montana’s oldest college with Montana’s oldest professional theatre company for the 60th Anniversary season, a number of Professor Roe’s former students chose to bow out of their other summer plans and join current members of the theater department for a summer of intense -- seven shows a week -- performances. As testimony to Professor Roe’s influence in the lives of his former students and alumni fondness for their alma mater, some have worked “behind the scenes” to prepare educational initiatives, help prepare the business operations, establish a pre-summer presence in the Virginia City area, and generally do whatever needs to be done for RMC’s inaugural season to be a great success. With this great opportunity, “We make new friends, and new connections in Southwest Montana,” says President Mace, “which is

an important part of broadening our footprint and promoting our name within a different part of the state.” Professor Roe and his troupe will be performing four shows, rotating daily: “Aggie, the Mail Order Bride;” “Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street;” “Rustle Your Bustle,” and “The Marriage Proposal.” As a way to create excitement and participation, a special 60th Anniversary Package was created. The package comes with 35 fully transferable tickets good for the whole season Tuesday-Thursday. Included in the package is a 60th Anniversary commemorative wine from Merry Cellars in Washington (produced from a vineyard owned by RMC alumnus, Patrick Merry); a commemorative T-shirt; a seat sponsorship; and a chance to win $1,000 at the 60th Anniversary show on July 26th. This package costs $600 (there are only 60 packages total) and orders for this package may be placed online at info@virginiacityplayers.com. There is a one in 60 chance to win; one lucky person has the chance to net $400 by winning the raffle.


Big Star, Big Class (Continued from front page) It was an historic occasion also as RMC graduated its first class of successful applicants for the Master of Educational Leadership degree, as well as awarding Master of Accountancy degrees and recognizing Master of Physician Assistant Studies applicants. Adding an extra glow to the warm light of the Great Hall of Prescott Commons, following Commencement, was famed actress and performer, Ann-Margret. Accompanied by her husband, Roger Smith, a famous actor and producer in his own right, the couple shared their 42nd wedding anniversary weekend with the RMC family. Besides being awarded an honorary doctorate, Ann-Margret was the special guest of President Michael Mace and his wife, Karen, for a reception and dinner to raise money for scholarships. The College presented the couple with a Battlin’ Bears jersey, emblazoned with the number 42, signifying the number of years this remarkable couple has been married. A U.S. flag, obtained by U.S. Senator Max Baucus, which was flown over the nation’s Capitol, was presented to honor Ann-Margret for her service to the country when she entertained troops in Vietnam. Because she loves riding her Harley when she’s not maintaining a demanding schedule filming, President Mace presented her with a Harley vest. Because she is “a jewel of a person,” she received a 30.2 karat aqua marine gem in a pendant, said Shari VanDelinder, RMC director of development. “All the gifts from the College were donated by loyal friends. AnnMargret was genuinely impressed and moved by the wonderful welcome and gifts,” said Shari. As part of the evening’s fund raising, a basketball autographed by the players and coaches of the 2009 NAIA National Champion Battlin’ Bears was auctioned off. Dr. Scott Morledge-Hampton offered the winning bid for the ball, which he intended to give to his mother, Patti Morledge, for Mother’s Day. The Morledge family, which donated the money to renovate Kimball Hall, has been one of RMC’s most gracious and generous donors, helping pay for landscaping, signage and other campus beautification projects. Patti and her late husband, Dr. Charles Morledge, also served on the RMC Board and as Honorary Chairs of Black Tie Blue Jeans, the annual scholarship benefit. “I never know what to get my mom, but this year I have the perfect gift,” Scott said. Also auctioned off was a “grumpy old man” cap, autographed by Roger Smith and Ann-Margret, which wound up in the winning hands of “Ziggy” Ziegler.

Ann-Margret and Roger Smith enjoy a Battlin’ Bears football jersey that was presented as a gift to Roger, who once played football for the University of Arizona. The “42” commemorated their 42nd wedding anniversary, which was May 8.

Longtime RMC supporter, Ossie Abrams, accompanied her “Swedish sister,” Ann-Margret, on the flight from California to Montana where the famous performer was a guest of honor for Commencement events.

Dr. Scott Morledge-Hampton offered the winning bid for a basketball autographed by the players and coaches of the 2009 NAIA Championship team, which he planned to give to his mother, Patti Morledge, for Mother’s Day. “I never know what I can get my mom, but this year I have the perfect gift,” he said.

Rocky Now - May 2009  

RMC newsletter for the college community.

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