October 29, 2020
University of Montana Western Chancellor Beth Weatherby has announced that she will retire following the May 1 Commencement after nearly 30 years in higher education.
“I arrived when Experience One was in its 10th year. The faculty and staff had put so much hard work into creating this program to distinguish Montana Western from all others in public higher education,” said Weatherby. “My role has been to tell the story more widely, muster more support and resources to ensure that we sustain this university into the future, and position the university to build upon its tremendous promise. Montana Western, with the support of its friends and admirers, is poised to be recognized as a national leader in experiential education.”
The university has just completed a new strategic plan for 2020-2026 titled “Building on the Promise of Experience One.”
Weatherby took the helm of UMW after 22 years at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota, where she served as an English Department faculty member and director of an acclaimed creative writing program; Dean of the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences; and finally, as Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. She is an award-winning writer, having received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and her doctorate in English from the University at Albany, New York.
“Chancellor Weatherby has created strong relationships and partnerships both in the community and across the state,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian. “She has promoted the university and enhanced its reputation in Montana and nationally and has made great progress toward her goal of ensuring the university’s sustainability into the future.”
During Weatherby’s tenure as Chancellor of UMW, the university opened new programs including Glass, Farm and Ranch Operations, Outdoor Guide and Wildlife Outfitters Management; developed teacher preparation partnerships with Blackfeet Community College and Little Big Horn College; and expanded partnerships with the Montana Center for Horsemanship, Pima Medical Institute, and the Montana Youth Challenge Academy.
“I believe that the most lasting impact from my work here will result from the Experience One Campaign,” Weatherby said. “Working with Executive Director Roxanne Engellant and the Foundation Board, we are gaining momentum in support of scholarships, the Fund for Experience One, and a Sports and Activities Complex that will benefit the entire community.”
Weatherby and her husband, Dr. Steve Kramer, initiated the Fund for Experience One shortly after their arrival in Dillon to support the development of creative and innovative experiential learning opportunities.
The Experience One Campaign, still in its silent phase, has generated the largest cash gifts in the history of the university.
“Montanans are grateful that UMW, which originated as the state’s Normal College, has made an enormous contribution to the development of Montana, preparing excellent teachers and school leaders for nearly 130 years,” said Weatherby. “Friends of the university appreciate and support our focus on innovative teaching and learning, and mutually beneficial community partnerships. Working together is always what works best.”
Commissioner Christian noted that details will be provided soon regarding the process for finding UMW’s next chancellor.