MSU Billings Alumni Relations

Accepting Nomination for Outstanding Alumni Awards2017 Montana State University Billings
Outstanding Alumni Award Winners

Gregory Anderson

 Dr. Gregory Anderson

Occupation:  RVP of Global Market Readiness for Salesforce Corporation

Degrees:  Bachelor of Science, Human Services 1987


Distinguished Alumnus

Greg received his bachelor’s degree in Human Services from then-EMC in 1987.  He came to EMC on a gymnastics scholarship and recruitment by Coach Jay Shaw.  In addition to being All-American gymnast and member of the MSU-B Athletic Hall of Fame, he was an active in other areas of student life, serving as a resident assistant, student body president, and president of the Montana Associated Students. 


Greg pursued advanced degrees earning a master’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, and his Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Kent State University.  Greg’s career has spanned both higher education and high tech.  His university work included roles as Assistant Dean of Students, Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Director of Campus Life and Student Centers, Assistant Men’s Gymnastics Coach, and Adjunct Faculty Member.


For the past 19 years Greg has worked in the software industry.  He currently serves as Regional Vice President at Salesforce Corporation, a Fortune 500 company. Prior to that as Vice-President at the Oracle Corporation.


An active community volunteer and leader, Greg has devoted years of service to the YMCA in multiple roles including Board Member and Chairman, President of the Louisville Rotary, and President of the Louisville Library Board. His leadership, fundraising skills, and dedication have been key elements of successfully growing the non-profit organizations that he is involved with.  “He is truly service above self, embodying the Rotary mission in all he does,” wrote several of his recommendations. “He is a true community servant and goes about this work with compassion, humility, and generosity.”


He has truly distinguished himself as a tireless community volunteer and successful businessperson.


Greg is a father of three who lives in Louisville, Ohio with his wife. 

Kay Berry

 Kay L. Berry

Occupation:  Retired

Degrees:  Bachelor of Science, Education (Special Education) 1983


Alumni Merit Medallion

Kay Berry graduated from then-EMC in 1983 with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Special Education.  She embarked career in education within Billings School District #2 where she served as an elementary resource room teacher in North Park, McKinley, and Broadwater schools. 


In her roles as an educator, she has influenced the lives of countless children and impacted youth and adults later in her career as a Behavior Specialist and Elementary Program Specialist, after nearly three decades of teaching in a classroom.  She has mentored student teachers from MSU Billings and helped shape them into successful future teachers with keen understanding of the intricacies of special education, direction, and valuable insights into being an impactful teacher.


“Her motivation always being assisting present students earn their degrees and pursue their dreams – as she has been able to do,” wrote a recommendation. “Teaching at its highest level is a calling, and great teachers feel it to their core, something Kay embodied whole-heartedly."


Kay retired in 2015 from her tenure in the field of education.


In addition to being a beloved educator, Kay is an active community volunteer with Junior League, MSU Billings Wine and Food Festival, PTA, United Way, Downtown Billings Association, and Billings Preservation Society to name a few of the civic organizations she generously gives her time to.  Many of these organizations have benefitted greatly from Kay’s service over the years and her dedication has resulted in awards, leadership positions, and recognition for her involvement from these organizations and the Billings community. 

Maria Elena Beltran

Maria Elena Beltran

Occupation: Self-employed Attorney

Degree: Bachelor of Science, Secondary Education (Spanish) 


Recognition for Exceptional Achievement.

Maria Elena Beltran has spent most of her life in the Yellowstone Valley, east of Billings. Throughout her life, she has overcome incredible odds. Maria came from humble beginnings, as the daughter of migrant workers who worked in Texas and settled in the Yellowstone Valley.

She is a self-made success as she taught herself English in grade school. Maria dropped out at 13 years of age; later overcoming extraordinary challenges to enroll in college at EMC in the 1982 as a non-traditional student while raising a family of her own. She received her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, specializing in Spanish, in 1986 from then-Eastern Montana College.

Maria continued her higher education after life at EMC and received her law degree from the University of Montana in 1990. She was employed with Montana Legal Services, a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance to low-income Montanans, in 1982 during her undergraduate years and continued to work for MLS during the summer while attending law school.


As a Poverty Law Attorney, she has worked to improve the lives of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, served the Hispanic community across the state of Montana, and advocated for a multitude of underprivileged people for over 27 years. She has been hailed as “the Mother Theresa of the legal profession in Montana,” often traveling across the state and region to represent clients in pro bono cases and devoting her time and efforts to compassionately represent those less fortunate.


Maria is well respected in both the legal profession and by all whom she has served with accolades of high regard for her character and all that she embodies. She resides in Worden, Montana and continues to volunteer her services across the state while serving on the board of the Montana Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Council to this day.

Bob Durden

Bob Durden

Occupation: Senior Curator, Yellowstone Art Museum    

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Art and Communication Arts (Painting and Theater double major) 1984


Recognition for Exceptional Achievement.

Bob Durden completed his bachelor’s degree as a double major in Art and Communication Arts in 1984 from then-EMC.  He traveled to the University of Oregon to serve as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Theater in 1985 before returning to then-EMC for Post Baccalaureate work in Sculpture.  From 1986-1987, Bob completed graduate work in the Sculpture program at Wichita State University in Kansas. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1990 from MSU Bozeman.


Bob has devoted his life to the arts with over 35 years’ experience, working not only as an artist, but also as an art director, set designer, and museum curator.  In addition, he has taught classes in art, public speaking, theatre, lighting and design, as a college instructor at both MSU Billings and Rocky Mountain College.  Bob has mentored new faculty members and students and managed art assets for private and public collectors.  During his career, he has curated over 100 art exhibitions and authored over 40 publications in Paducah, Kentucky, Great Falls, Montana, and Billings, Montana. This is a true demonstration that one can do well in the arts, far from the urban art areas of the country, in one's hometown.


"Bob is a distinguished leader who enhances the quality of life for all in the region through his professional work in the arts," stated his recommendations. "I haven't found a curator who is so universally respected and well-liked, no mean feat in the art world."


Bob is an enthusiastic advocate for the arts, welcoming all opportunities to share his expertise with others within the art and theater community and the Billings community at large. As a Billings native, he has been active in giving back to our community devoting his time and expertise to MSU Billings, Montana Art Gallery Directors Association, Northcutt Steele Gallery, Boys and Girls Club, and ZooMontana.

Dominick Vergara

Dominick Vergara

Occupation: Assistant Principal and Activities Director at Elder Grove School

Degree: Master of Science in Sports Management 2011


Exceptional Achievement

Dominick Vergara completed his Master’s degree in Sport Recreation and Fitness Management from MSU Billings in 2011.  Prior to becoming a Yellowjacket, he received a Bachelor’s in Education from Black Hills State University.  His dedication to continual growth and improvement is evident in his additional degree of a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Rocky Mountain College.


Dominick's passion for education and athletics is evident throughout his educational and professional careers.  In his current position at Elder Grove School in Billings, Montana, he wears multiple hats as Assistant Principal, Activities Director, and Health Enhancement Teacher.  He remains involved with MSUB and serves as a part-time faculty member in Health and Human Performance during the summer.


"Dominick is always looking for ways to make a positive impact on his students and his community," wrote one of his recommendations. "His commitment to excellence is beyond compare, raising the commitment of those around him, with commitment to the development and success of his students, peers, and friends." 


In his short time at Elder Grove School, Dominick has been instrumental in developing new athletic programs, creating a booster club, bolstering school and community support of the athletics programs, and garnered media attention for fundraising efforts to build a football field and improve the offering of programs at the school.  Another recommendation shared "Dom is a throw-back to a less egocentric era, rising to the occasion with high internal standards and with an understanding that his own achievements bolster others, not coming at other people's expense."

Tom Rust

Thomas Rust

Occupation: Professor of History, MSU Billings

Degree: Masters of Education, Self-Design (Teaching as a Secondary Career) 1999


Ronald P. Sexton Award for Professional Commitment

Dr. Tom Rust earned his Master’s degree in Education, Teaching as a Second Career in 1999 from MSU Billings. Prior to becoming a Yellowjacket alumnus, he received his Bachelor’s degree in History from University of Minnesota in 1992 and a Master’s degree in History from University of Denver in 1995.  He continued his education and completed his Doctorate of Philosophy in Archaeology and Ancient History from University of Leicester in 2006. 


Dr. Rust has dedicated his professional career to MSUB serving in various roles as a lecturer, faculty member, teacher, and director for over 18 years.


With the success of students and the university as his mission, Dr. Rust assumed leadership of the International Studies and Outreach office, building relationships between OIS and faculty.  Additionally, he served as Director of the University Honors Program while pursuing his PHD to provide a quality interdisciplinary program for MSUB students.


His service to MSUB, the Billings community, and Montana as a whole can be seen in the great number of service learning projects he has embarked on and had his students complete.  Dr. Rust served as Co-Coordinator of Service Learning, an effort that kept the Service Learning program from elimination at MSUB altogether, a notable accomplishment in his service-based career at our university. “Like soldiers called to the service of their country, Dr. Rust has responded positively to numerous calls to serve the students and faculty of MSUB ‘above and beyond’ his position in the History Department,” wrote one recommendation. “He nurtured student leaders and facilitated the learning and teaching excellence for which he and MSUB are both so well known.”


His commitment to excellence and higher education is evident not only in his classes and in engaged students, but in the research, service, and civic engagement he conducts on behalf of the university, with emphasis on Lewis and Clark Expedition, community involvement in Billings and southern Montana.  

Previous Outstanding Alumni Winners
1980's - 1990's - 2000's