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UM administrative transition underway

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MISSOULA - The entire responsibility for running the University of Montana will soon completely fall on the shoulders of new president Seth Bodnar. But he's meeting the calling with enthusiasm, and a lot of gratitude for his predecessor.

This is Interim President Sheila Stearns last week on the assignment she'd held for the past year, helming UM through a period of change.

From navigating a tough course to balance budgets against reduced enrollments, to finishing off major building projects, it's been an active stretch -- and there's a lot to pass along in just a few days. But Stearns says Bodnar is up to the challenge.

"President Bodnar is just really fun to work with. He's really smart. Everybody knows that. But it's just fun to see it. And he has leadership experience that's really good," Stearns told MTN News.

"It's fun to connect that to higher education and to our model of how we do business and how we educate the students and really prepare for a 21st Century future in a more energetic and digitally-aware way. He's great. The transitions great. But I feel like I'm learning as much from him as he's learning from me," she continued.

"Well, I think we just all owe President Stearns and enormous debt of gratitude. Not just for the past year here at the University of Montana but really for a career of service to this institution. To this state. She is an icon in this state and I'm incredibly grateful for her service," Bodnar said.

"You know, we're making this as smooth a transition as one could expect. And I'm a huge fan and admirer of Sheila's. I'm disappointed to see her go. I've tried to do a 'mind meld' with her before she goes. But she's been incredibly gracious," Bodnar concluded.

Stearns says during her "second retirement" 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.

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

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