MSU Billings News Services
Two champions for American Indian children and education, an advocate for special education, business leaders and a local legend in music and theater were honored last week as outstanding alumni for Montana State University Billings.
The 30th annual Outstanding Alumni Awards event was held March 30 at the Student Union Building. This year’s event recognized the accomplishments of eight people selected by the MSU Billings Alumni Association.
This year’s recipients were:
• Distinguished Alumnus: Andrew Small, ’74, College of Arts and Sciences. Small is a part owner and lawyer for BlueDog, Paulson and Small based in Minneapolis, Minn. He has been an advocate for the rights of American Indian through the court system and has been instrumental in enforcing the Indian Child Welfare Act. He has served as general counsel and special counsel for 13 tribes and has been admitted to practice in 14 tribal jurisdictions throughout Indian Country, as well as Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
• Alumni Merit Medallion: Dr. Wayne Hansen, College of Arts and Sciences. Hansen received his associate’s degree from MSU Billings on his way to receiving his DDS at the University of Nebraska. After serving in the Air Force, where he flew and served with the Strategic Air Command and served as the personal dentist to an Air Force general, he Hansen opened his own dentistry practice. He has continued his affiliation with MSU Billings as a generous donor of resources and time. He was instrumental in helping re-establish the men’s baseball program a few years ago.
• Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Dr. John Cech, ’85, College of Business. Cech currently serves as Deputy Commissioner for Two-Year and Community College Education for the Montana University System in Helena. Previously, he was the Dean of MSU Billings College of Technology.
• Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Tim Harris, ’73, College of Education. Harris received his Master’s Degree in Special Education from MSU Billings and served as the administrator for the Special Education Division for the Office of Public Instruction for Montana. He is also a member of the National Wheelchair Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
• Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Darrell Kipp ’70, College of Education. Kipp is the co-founder and director of the Piegan Institute on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation, which provides a language immersion school for its students through the middle school. This school has been a model for language immersion programs around the globe. Besides a degree from MSU Billings, Kipp has a master’s of education from Harvard University and a master’s of fine art in writing from Vermont College.
• Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Lisa Lombardy ’83, College of Arts and Sciences. Lombardy is well known throughout the Billings community for her music and theatrical performances. During the day she works as a registered nurse at the Billings Clinic Outpatient Surgery Center, but she devotes just as much time and energy to the performing arts in the area. Lombardy received her music degree from MSU Billings while she was working the night shift at the hospital. She continued to pursue her music passion and received her master of music degree from the University of Arizona. She has received numerous awards for her music and is currently preparing the next generation of performers by providing private lessons to area youth.
• Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Dr. George McGrail ’63, College of Education. McGrail is an Emeritus Professor of the College of Business at the University of Wyoming. He has written more than 30 refereed publications, more than 30 research papers and was responsible for four major grants while with the University of Wyoming. He received the Recognition of Service Award from the University of Wyoming, which has only been awarded twice in 40 years.
• Ronald P. Sexton Award for Professional Commitment: Dennis Schuld ’76, College of Arts and Sciences. Schuld not only attended and graduated from MSU Billings, but has spent his entire career serving MSU Billings through the Information Technology department. After graduating from the university, Schuld was hired full time and has spent the last 36 years adapting and implementing new technology for the university.