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Montana Western Appoints Dr. Estee Aiken as Dean of Strategic Initiatives

August 18, 2023

The University of Montana Western is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Estee Aiken as the next Dean of Strategic Initiatives.

“It is an honor to welcome Dr. Aiken to her new role at Montana Western,” said UMW Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dr. Johnny MacLean. “She is well positioned to lead existing and new strategic initiatives aligned with our institution’s mission. We look forward to the experience she brings to the role and the resource she will be to both the university and the community.”  

Aiken earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2001, followed by a Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary School from Colorado College in 2002. She earned her Doctor of Education in Education Studies from the University of Northern Colorado in 2012. 

Aiken currently serves as the Division Chair of Education at Montana Western, where she has also served as a professor since 2011. Having taught over 25 different education courses during this time, she has also been actively involved at the state level in roles including Montana Council of Deans of Education, Montana University System Teacher Scholar 2022-23, current campus lead for the Teacher Residency Demonstration Project, President of the Montana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, past President of the Montana Association of Gifted and Talented Education, and past co-chair of the Montana Higher Education Consortium.   

She also has a variety of experience in grants authorship and project management from funding sources including the U.S. Department of Education, State of Montana DPHHS, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, Montana Office of Public Instruction, and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. Aiken has published several peer reviewed publications and presented at conferences across the country.  

“I am so excited for this opportunity to be part of advancing our strategic plan and initiatives. Dr. Ripley has established a legacy of excellence as the current Dean of Strategic Initiatives, and I will do all that I am able to continue that legacy. I’m grateful that I get to grow professionally without leaving UMW or Dillon—I love being a part of Western, and my family loves being a part of the community,” said Aiken. 

Spending as much time as she can enjoying all that the Dillon area has to offer, Aiken and her family hike, camp, fish, ski, and take in the outdoors as much as possible. Additionally, she is a member of the Lark Quartet, which performs periodically around Dillon and also serves on multiple boards and committees. 

She will start the duties of her new position at Montana Western on August 28, 2023.