Stearns looking back with “thanks” for experience as UM Interim - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Stearns looking back with “thanks” for experience as UM Interim President

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MISSOULA - University of Montana Interim President Sheila Stearns is sending a big message of thanks to all the faculty, administrators and students as she finishes up her assignment this week and prepares to return to retirement. 

Stearns spent the past year running UM, helping the school to navigate through tricky budget adjustments and laying the foundation for her successor, new UM President Seth Bodnar. And she tells us it’s been “a lot of fun” to be back on a campus transitioning into the future.

“You know, I do a little bit of traveling around the country, or I did when I was previously retired, where I help with governing boards of colleges and universities," Stearns said. "And this has given me a real up-to-date insight into the obstacles, in the foxhole, in the trenches at challenges of colleges and universities in this day and age. Everything is more complex in our society, but universities are too.”

Stearns, who previously served as UM’s Vice President and as Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, was tasked with several challenges, from ordering cuts to bring spending more in line with enrollments, to trying to build momentum for recruiting new students and finishing off major building projects. And she’s quick to give credit to everyone who’s lent their support.

“I have a huge thanks to so many people I couldn’t even begin to list them. So many people wanted to help, have helped. It’s just been amazing how much support there is for the University of Montana. And so, huge thank you for all of that reservoir of affection and good will, for the university and for our students, and for me.”

Stearns says she and her husband Hal plan to do some traveling, and she’d like to do some writing, reading and spending time with her family.

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