Presidents and Chancellors

 

As the 12th chancellor of Montana Technological University, Dr. Les Cook is focused on advancing Montana Tech while listening, learning, and engaging with all Montana Tech constituents. 

Before he was appointed chancellor on July 1, 2019, he spent 16 years at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) in Houghton, Michigan. At Michigan Tech, he held numerous leadership positions, including vice president for strategic university partnerships, vice president for student affairs and advancement, vice president for student affairs, and vice provost and dean of students. He led advancement, alumni engagement, athletics, dean of students, enrollment management, student affairs and university marketing and communications. Under Cook's leadership, Michigan Tech experienced significant increases in enrollment, student success, and fundraising. Cook was named a NASPA Pillar of the Profession in 2016.

Before Michigan Tech, Dr. Cook held positions at the University of the Pacific, University of Utah, and Salt Lake Community College.

Dr. Cook holds a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Brigham Young University, a master's degree in social science and a bachelor of science in political science from Utah State University. Dr. Cook also completed Harvard University's Institute on Educational Management.

Cook is actively involved with several professional and student service associations. He serves as Board Chair for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Foundation Board, is member of the NASPA national board, and is a trustee for the Leadershape Institute. Cook served as chair of the chief student affairs officers group for the Michigan Association of State Universities and is on the board for Student Affairs Today. Cook has long served as a lead faculty member for the LeaderShape Institute, is a lifetime member of the National Orientation Directors Association, has been an active member of the Association for Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Dr. Cook serves on the Board of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber and is a member of the local economic development committee.

Cook was actively involved in his community in Michigan, serving on the Houghton Downtown Guidance Team, Dial Help board of directors, and the Keweenaw Community Foundation Board.

Les and wife, Stephanie, have two grown children: Cole, who lives in Phoenix, AZ; and Adison, a senior at Michigan Tech.

 

Dr. Donald M. Blackketter became Chancellor of Montana Tech on June 27th of 2011 after serving 22 years at the University of Idaho in positions that included Mechanical Engineering faculty member, Department Chair and Dean of the College of Engineering. Dr. Blackketter brought extensive teaching and research experience to Montana Tech having educated and conducted research in the areas of solid mechanics and composite materials. Dr. Blackketter is a registered professional engineer in Idaho and Montana and a former Fulbright Scholar. Blackketter received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1985, 1986 and 1989 respectively.

 

On July 1, 1998, Frank Gilmore became the tenth Campus Executive Officer (Chancellor) of Montana Tech. A native of Mississippi, Dr. Gilmore earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry at Virginia Military Institute and a Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, did a Postdoctoral year at Florida State University, studied Law and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and attended the Institute of Educational Management at Harvard University. 

Before coming to Butte, Dr. Gilmore had an extensive research career in both the private and public sectors. His original and innovative research in developing and demonstrating peptidomimetics, the first synthesis of optically active amino phosphonic acids and peptides containing them proved to be important in drug design and development. Also, Dr. Gilmore had a distinguished career as an educator and administrator, including being named “Teacher of the Year” by the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi. His five years as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Executive Vice President at West Virginia University Institute of Technology prepared him to lead Montana Tech.

During his 13 years as Chancellor, Dr. Gilmore spearheaded the first Comprehensive Capital Campaign undertaken at Montana Tech. Campus physical facilities improved by the addition of two new buildings, renovation of four buildings, construction of a new Greenhouse, and the Montana Tech Arch. Academic programs were expanded to include more opportunities for study in Health disciplines, as well as the Trades and Software Engineering. Under Dr. Gilmore’s leadership, the student body grew from 2,230 to 2,864, the operating budget increased by 118%, the endowment grew by 158%, and the land area of the campuses more than doubled.

Upon his retirement on June 30, 2011, Dr. Gilmore was appointed Chancellor Emeritus. Consistent with his lifelong passion and commitment to the sciences and education, one year following his retirement from Montana Tech, Dr. Gilmore was appointed by the Board of Trustees and approved by the Executive Office of the President of the United States to serve as President of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. 

In October 2012, the Frank and Ann Gilmore University Relations Center was dedicated in honor of their service and commitment to Montana Tech.

William Franklin "Frank" Gilmore died on Feb. 14, 2018.

 

After serving as Vice President and Technical Director of The Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City, Dr. Lindsay D. Norman became the ninth President of the college on July 1, 1986. Born in Pennsylvania, Lindsay earned his degrees at the University of Maryland: B.S.  in Metallurgy/Chemical Engineering in 1960, M.S. in Metallurgy/Nuclear Engineering in 1964, and a Ph.D. in Materials Science/Physics in 1970.

Norman brought to the campus national recognition and extensive management experience in the metals and mining industries. Earlier he had been appointed Director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines by the President of the United States and had been Vice President for Research of Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation.

When Lindsay arrived in Butte, he wanted to enhance the international reputation of the “college on the hill.” His goal was to make the campus a unique, world-class center of excellence in training future engineering and business professionals.

 

Fred W. De Money became eighth President of the College on July 1, 1972. Born November 25, 1919 in Oak Park, Illinois, De Money received a B.S. in Fire Protection Engineering in 1942 from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He worked in industry from 1941-1972 and during part of that time, also attended the University of Minnesota, receiving a M.S. in Metallography in 1951 and Ph.D. in Physical Metallurgy in 1954.

President De Money's greatest challenge at the College came when the Blue Ribbon Commission recommended transferring engineering programs to Montana State University and making the College into a junior college. President De Money provided the leadership necessary to successfully defend the College.  Moreover, he moved the College forward in steady enrollment increases, expansion of physical facilities and growth of academic programs.

At the beginning of the fall term in 1984, President De Money announced he would retire in 1985.

 

Following 11 years as head of the Chemistry Department, Butte native Edwin G. Koch became President in 1957 and served until his retirement in 1971

In 1928 he received a B.A. in Chemistry from Montana State University in Missoula. The University of Illinois conferred a Ph.D. in Chemistry on him in 1933. Following a short career in industry, Dr. Koch began teaching at the University of Tennessee.

Koch was called to active duty during World War II and in 1945 was mustered out as a Lt. Colonel, having served 29 years on Army active reserve duty.

After teaching Chemistry at the University of Texas for one year, Dr. Koch came to the College in 1946 and thus provided the campus with 25 years of stabilizing influence.

 

Born in 1896, J. Robert Van Pelt became the sixth president of the College in 1951 and served until 1956 at which time he resigned. Originally, he received both a B.A. in science and a B.A. in mining from the Michigan School of Mines in 1922. Later, he obtained an A.B. degree and a Doctor of Science degree from Cornell of Iowa.

Dr. Van Pelt worked as a mucker, a surveyor, and a geologist and even directed an industrial museum.

In Ohio, he organized an in-service program which prepared scientists and engineers for careers in industrial research. From this position, Dr. Van Pelt came to Butte.

An active member of many professional organizations, President Van Pelt published numerous articles in technical journals.

 

Francis A. Thomson, the College's fifth President, was born December 21, 1879 in London, England. He came to North America and received E.M. (1904) and M.S. (1914) degrees and a Doctor of Science degree (1923) from the Colorado School of Mines.

He was a prospector, miner, an assayer, mining engineer, and a superintendent of mining operations. He also held various academic and administrative positions in the states of Washington and Idaho before coming to Butte.

Dr. Thompson became the fifth President of the College in 1928 and served until 1950 when ill health forced him to resign. By stressing a selective but quality education, Thomson succeeded in turning out engineers who had the mark of excellence. Thus he gained national recognition for the College in the minerals industry. The College was referred to by some as the “Freiberg of America.”

Herbert Hoover eulogized Francis Thomson saying, “He was not only a great teacher, but a magnificent American.”

 

George W. Craven, the fourth President of the College, was a minister's son. Born in Last Chance Gulch in April 1871, young Craven later lived in several other Montana localities, including Corvallis and Bozeman.

After graduating with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Craven stayed in Massachusetts to work for a railroad. Later he was employed by a mining company in Great Falls and at the smelter in Utah before coming to Butte, where he worked for several mining companies.

By 1905, Craven was a member of the College's faculty, teaching Mining Engineering, Mathematics, Drawing, and Mechanics. In 1919, he became vice-President, the first in the College's history. He was President from 1921 to 1928.

 

C.H. Clapp, the third President of the College, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1905, with a B.S. in Mining Engineering. In 1910, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard. From 1905 to 1907, he was instructor of Geology and Mining at the University of North Dakota where he also served as assistant state geologist. From 1913 to 1916, he taught Geology at the University of Arizona. He came to Butte in 1916 to teach Geology at the College.

Named acting President in 1918, Dr. Clapp was appointed President in 1919 and served in this capacity until 1921.  During his presidency, Clapp established the Montana State Bureau of Mines and Metallurgy.

 

Charles H. Bowman was the second President of the College. Born in Davenport, Iowa in 1873, he graduated from Iowa State University in 1895 and did post graduate work at Chicago University. Later, he worked in Chicago installing electric plants and managing a railway electrical repair shop.

In 1900, he came to the College as a professor of Mechanics and Mining Engineering, eventually serving as President from 1906 to 1918. When he died in 1942, President F. A. Thomson said, “He had the reputation of being a skillful, careful and painstaking teacher and was devoted to his students and to his institution.”

 

Nathan R. Leonard was first President of the College at a time when it was call the Montana State School of Mines. A former newspaper owner/editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he received an A.M. in mathematics from Kossuth College in Iowa where he later taught for seven years.

Leonard spent the next 27 years as professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Iowa State University and also served as acting president.

Born in Ohio in 1832, Leonard was 68 years old when he became president of the Montana State School of Mines. In 1917, at the age of 85, he passed away in the Leonard Hotel in Butte.