Spring 2001

Political Prodigy

Championship Game

Not Your Average Joe

I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain

Back Roads Fever


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Alumni Notes

Cool Alumni? We Got That!

By Julie Schwartz

One of the best things about alumni work is the travel. As associate director, I've visited with alumni at out-of-state football tailgates, social gatherings in Denver and Las Vegas and escorted a group to Ireland.

I've noticed some truisms. Because our alumni feel especially loyal and connected to their alma mater, they tend to show up. We had horrendous weather at a recent event in Denver, yet one intrepid couple traveled an hour and a half on treacherous freeways to enjoy the company of other alumni and listen to President Dennison, Fred Lee, President/CEO of the UM Foundation, School of Business Administration Dean Larry Gianchetta and Arnie Sherman of the Montana World Trade Center.

I attended most tailgates last fall and was astounded at the people who travel to these games. We had more than 4,000 supporters at the national football championship game in Chattanooga! It felt like we were only a state away. Thousands attend our Griz-Cat satellite TV parties.

UM alumni are a classy and gracious bunch. Although we DO like to have a good time (I won't mention the final beverage tab in Chattanooga!), our alumni have a national reputation for being a great group to work with. I've heard this over and over from host staffs at various athletic venues and from professionals who put on alumni tours around the world.

An outstanding university creates outstanding alumni, and UM alumni are indeed special. Other schools know it and they're envious. Reconnect to the Alumni Association and Montana, no matter where you live, by logging on to — our exclusive UMAA Web portal. See you at our next event!

Navigating the World of Birds

How easily we can fly in dreams. Bird-like, we extend our arms - the sky is ours. Awake, however, the human body will never fly on its own. Even though we share similar bones, muscles and nerves with our avian friends, Mother Nature never intended for us to fly. Nor did she grant us the vocal mechanism to sing two notes at once or a three-dimensional, gyroscopic honing instinct. Exploring the world of birds provided the theme for this year's UMAA sponsored Community Lecture Series. For six evenings in February and March, 250 Missoula area alumni and friends attended presentations by three internationally renowned UM ornithologists.

Professor Erick Greene discussed birdsong, Mount Sentinel's lazuli buntings and the predatory cowbird. Greene received UM's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2000 and its Most Inspirational Teacher Award in 1996. Professor Ken Dial, host of twenty-six episodes of the Animal Planet nature series All Bird TV, focused on the aerodynamics of birds and their relationship to dinosaurs. Professor Dick Hutto, in his 23rd year at UM, and host of many episodes of the PBS television series Birdwatch, spoke on bird migration and their behavior in relation to forest fires.

Plans are underway for a 2002 lecture series. In the meantime, many new local birders are watching and listening for area birds, and still, most likely, dreaming of flight.

Discovering Home

By Betsy Holmquist

Mark Hamilton's search for poetry in the journals of Lewis and Clark took him on a four-year, 6,800 mile voyage. A poet and former writing professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, Mark initially set out looking for poetry in the writings of the ambitious, literary Meriwether Lewis and the spirited, man-with-a farmer's heart, William Clark while a graduate student at UM. The more Mark read their words, however, the more he knew he had to take their journey. Today, Mark stands as the sole person to have traveled the complete route of Lewis and Clark, on their approximate timetable, under his own power.

Mark received his M.F.A. degree at UM in 1989. With help from a Matthew Hansen Endowment, awarded through UM's School of Forestry Wilderness Institute, endorsements, his family and friends, and much research, Mark set out from St. Louis, Missouri, in June 1998. For the next two years and four months, he retraced the steps of the 1804-1806 Voyage of Discovery.

Mark reached the Pacific Ocean, on November 14, 1999, then paddled on to Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805. On March 23, 2000, Mark launched his ruddered kayak, Gander, into the Columbia River for the first leg of the return journey. At The Dalles, Oregon, Mark swapped his kayak for Joe, a delightful and hard-working pack mule. For the next three months they trekked the route taken by William Clark, southward, to the headwaters of the Missouri River. Like the original explorers, Mark and Joe found the snow-covered Bitterroot Mountains impassable in early June. They reached the eastern side of the divide on June 30, and Joe returned to his home pasture in Horse Prairie, Montana. Mark hiked on to Dillon where he re-launched the Gander, this time into the Beaverhead, and headed upriver. A sixty-mile hike and portage over the Bozeman Pass brought Mark to the Yellowstone River. Paddling as much as forty miles a day, Mark encountered 105-degree temperatures at Pompey's Tower, black flies, heat lightning and pollution. He did enjoy gigantic turtles, beaver, coyotes, buffalo, herons and meals shared with other river travelers and friends met in campgrounds. On September 30, 2000, almost to the day in 1806 when Lewis and Clark reached St. Louis, Mark brought his kayak ashore at the St. Louis Waterfront, his journey complete.

The original search for poetry in the Lewis and Clark journals? That project's currently on hold as Mark is working on a book-length prose piece based on his own journals and poetry. Outside his Rosburg, Washington, home the Gander waits; the nearby Columbia River beckons.

Mark's talents illustrate and narrate his voyage on his Website, and video, Discovering Home: A Sojourn on the Lewis & Clark Trail by Paddle and Pack Mule. The video was produced by UM alum Robert R. McConnell '66, M.A. '73. Robert lives in Gig Harbor, Washington, with his wife, Janet McConnell, a '71 UM graduate.


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