The MSU Billings Alumni Association honors seven exceptional graduates with the 2019 Outstanding Alumni Awards. All seven Montana State University Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College) alumni are Billings residents and receive awards in four categories.
The 2019 Outstanding Alumni Awards descriptions and winners are as follows:
Alumni Merit Medallion: Honors an alumnus or alumna who is dedicated to the advancement of education, exemplified by his or her commitment of professional expertise and/or volunteer service to MSU Billings.
Jerry Anderson, class of ‘77
Jerry Anderson is an Eastern Montana College graduate from the class of 1977. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, but dedicated his career to business. After graduation, Anderson spent the next 30 years in the financial services industry. He focused on assisting individuals, families and businesses in managing, preserving and growing their assets. He also managed brokerage activities in Montana and Wyoming for Wells Fargo Private Client Services. Anderson has a long history of community involvement, supporting multiple organizations and participating in events. Beginning in 2010, Anderson served on the MSU Billings Foundation’s board of trustees for six years in continued support of his alma mater.
Distinguished Alumni: Honors alumni who have distinguished themselves through personal, professional and civic contributions, while bringing a sense of honor, pride and recognition to the university community.
Carter Mollgaard, class of ‘76
Carter Mollgaard worked for several major corporations after graduating from Eastern Montana College in 1976, including Nabisco and Frito-Lay. He and his wife, Betsy, purchased M&C Beverage in Miles City in 1989 and still own the business today. Mollgaard is vice chair on the MSU Billings Foundation’s board of trustees and is a long-time supporter of the university. He and Betsy have funded two MSU Billings student scholarships, and given to the Yellowstone Science & Allied Health Building campaign and the annual Wine & Food Festival. In 2018, Mollgaard was recognized by the First Interstate Bank Trust Department with the Platinum Award for M&C Beverage’s outstanding 401K retirement plan for employees.
Krista Montague, class of ’99 and ‘18
Krista Montague is a native of Hysham, Montana, and received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at MSU Billings. While pursuing her bachelor’s in business administration, Montague was a four-year letter winner on the MSU Billings women’s basketball team. As a senior, she helped MSU Billings reach the West Region Championship – the program’s first Elite Eight appearance in women’s basketball. MSU Billings became the first NCAA institution in Montana to hire a female athletic director when Montague entered the role in 2013. The Billings Gazette recognized Montague in 2016 as one of the area’s best and brightest business professionals working to make Billings a better place with its annual 40 under Forty awards.
Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Recognizes the accomplishments of alumni who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in their chosen professions, made positive impacts on their communities, and are involved with MSU Billings.
Harold Olson, class of ‘71
Harold Olson has been an educational professional for 50 years. In 1968, he became a science teacher and coach at Colstrip Public Schools – his first teaching position. After earning his master’s degree in counseling from Eastern Montana College in 1971, Olson has dedicated his career to education. He held roles at several Billings middle schools before becoming president of K-12 Billings Catholic Schools in 2004. Olson retired to join MSU Billings as the director of the Dual Enrollment and Montana Career Pathways program in 2015. That fall, only three Billings high schools participated in the program with an enrollment of 59 students. Under Olson’s leadership, the program grew to schools in 12 Montana towns, with more than 50 college course sections offered to high school students.
Judy Povilaitis, class of ‘81
After 30 years in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, Judy Povilaitis returned to Billings in 2010. In Las Vegas and in Billings, Povilaitis has spent 39 years preparing students to be lifelong learners. As an educator, she encourages students to focus on their careers early, which is integral to developing a well-educated workforce. Today, Povilaitis is the executive director of the Student Services Division for Billings Public Schools. She draws on her experiences, both personally and professionally, to focus on her family. Povilaitis and her husband raised two daughters, instilling in them her belief that success happens with hard work, preparation, and running through the doors of opportunity as they open.
Darwin George, class of ‘84
It is the people of Billings that have instilled in Darwin George a passion to give back to his community. George grew up in Billings and graduated from Eastern Montana College with a business administration degree in 1984. He believes Montanans are warm, trusting people who understand that what is really important in life is each other. Working for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Floberg Real Estate, George’s Montana pride fuels him to improve the real estate industry, while serving his clients. He was voted Billings’ Best Realtor five times, and received national recognition for sales and realty excellence. George is president of Playhouse Parade and secretary of the MSUB Foundation board of trustees, among other service organization roles.
Ronald P. Sexton Award for Professional Commitment: Honors alumni who dedicate their professional lives as employees of MSU Billings. This award is given to an alumnus or alumna who has dedicated 10 or more total years of his or her career to MSU Billings and has significantly contributed to the advancement of the university. Recipients of this award emulate Chancellor Sexton’s passionate commitment to access, excellence and student success.
Trudy Collins, class of ’88 and ‘18
Trudy Collins is the vice chancellor for administration and finance at MSU Billings. Her service to the university and professional commitment to higher education goes back decades. In 25 years, Collins progressed in responsibilities from her first position as a cashier in the campus business office. Her experiences led her to encourage others to develop professionally as an active member of the Western Association of College and University Business Officers. On campus, Collins champions the Yellowjacket spirit. She earned her undergraduate degree at Eastern Montana College in 1988 and returned to complete a master’s degree in 2018. Collins co-chairs the MSUB Jacket Proud: Catch the Buzz employee engagement initiative to encourage campus pride. She has also contributed personal financial support toward scholarships to aid current and future students in achieving their educational goals.
Friend of MSU Billings: Honors a non-alumnus/a who has clearly demonstrated commitment to MSU Billings through distinguished service and/or leadership, while influencing the growth and improvement of MSU Billings and inspiring others to support the university.
In 2018, the MSU Billings Alumni Association introduced a new Friend of MSU Billings award honoring a non-graduate. However, this year there is a twist. Adding to the excitement, the 2019 Friend of MSU Billings is a secret to both the public and the recipient until the awards ceremony in March.
“The community won’t want to miss this special moment, as the winner is revealed live on stage at the Outstanding Alumni Awards Luncheon,” said Gillette Vaira, director of alumni relations.
Outstanding Alumni Awards luncheon
Celebrate the 2019 winners at the Outstanding Alumni Awards luncheon at noon on Friday, March 22. The event returns to the Northern Hotel ballroom in Billings, which is alumni-owned. Enjoy a catered meal and the chance to hear from this year’s recipients as they accept their awards. Event tickets and table sponsorships are on sale now through March 11 at msubfoundation.com/shop.
For more information about the Outstanding Alumni Awards, visit msubfoundation.com/alumni, or contact Gillette Vaira, director of Alumni Relations, at (406) 657-2253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.