Since January of 2010, Dr. Waded Cruzado has served as the 12th President of Montana State University, and during that time she has significantly reshaped the face and future of the state’s first land-grant institution.
An articulate and inspirational speaker on the role of the public university, President Cruzado has become well-known for her understanding of the Morrill Act, which created the land-grant university system 150 years ago. She is a passionate champion of the land-grant’s tripartite mission of education, research and public outreach, as well as the important role higher education plays in the development of individuals and the prosperity of the nation.
Montana State University has set new student enrollment records under President Cruzado’s leadership, becoming the fastest-growing and largest university in the state since 2014 at almost 16,000 students. Montana State University has also been welcoming the most accomplished freshmen in 25 years of record-keeping, in terms of their GPA, ACT and SAT scores. During the last two years, Montana State University has also registered the highest retention and graduation rates in the state. With 64 Goldwater Scholars, Montana State University is a leader in this prestigious scholarship for students in math, science and engineering and is ranked in the top 10 universities in the nation. During President Cruzado’s tenure, Montana State University has also received two Rhodes Scholars, one Gates-Cambridge Scholar, and one Marshall Scholar, among many other impressive student recognitions. In 2015, Montana State saw a first: two students won the Truman Scholarship, making Montana State one of only four universities to have double winners in that year.
In 2013 President Cruzado obtained approval from the Board of Regents to designate the Honors Program as the MSU Honors College. During her tenure, the number of Presidential scholarships has almost quadrupled, with 758 applicants in the fall of 2015.
During President Cruzado’s tenure, Montana State University has competitively won more than $650 million for sponsored research projects. Some recent projects include the renovation of Cooley Lab, thanks to a $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, and a $67 million grant from the Department of Energy for the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership, which is housed at Montana State. In 2015, the Montana Legislature approved an Executive Research Initiative of $15 million, with faculty at Montana State receiving $9 million, more than all other state university campuses combined.
Montana State University received legislative support under President Cruzado’s leadership to expand by 50 percent the WWAMI cooperative medical education program for the first time in 38 years. WWAMI is a 40-year-old cooperative medical education program involving Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Montana students spend their first year at MSU and then go to the University of Washington School of Medicine. The legislature also supported the creation of a Veterinary Medicine Program at MSU in partnership with Washington State University. Modeled after WWAMI, it is the only Veterinary Medicine Program in the state.
President Cruzado has consistently reaffirmed the importance of a campus environment that places student success as the top priority. To that end, she has made student retention a major priority of the university by funding numerous programs and appointing an executive officer to oversee related initiatives in increasing students’ financial literacy, helping more students graduate in four years and providing more student support services such as tutoring, mentoring and advising. In 2012, President Cruzado launched the “Freshman 15” program, an initiative that incentivizes all students to enroll in more credits, adding more “weight” to their class schedules. In fact, in the fall of 2015, Bloomberg News featured a 5-minute segment devoted to MSU’s “Know Your Debt Letter,” an initiative that has resulted in students taking more credits, reducing their debt load and graduating in a timely manner. President Cruzado has also enhanced MSU’s responsiveness to students’ needs and aspirations with the creation of two Family Care Rooms and a Veterans Center that has helped Montana State earned the designation of a “Military Friendly Institution.”
In April 2012, President Cruzado announced a goal of becoming the first university in the nation to raise $1 million in endowed, private support for Bobcat Rodeo. By the following spring, this goal had been achieved. A large portion of the funds have been invested to fund 18 scholarships, including 16 new scholarships.
During President Cruzado’s tenure the campus has seen the completion of numerous major construction and renovation projects. In the fall of 2010, the university reopened one of its most heavily used classroom buildings on campus, Gaines Hall, after a $32 million renovation funded by the Montana Legislature.
That same fall, the university opened its new, 40,000-square-foot Animal Bioscience Building. The $15.7 million building was funded, in part, by donations from Montana’s livestock and grains industry. In addition to classroom and teaching laboratory space, the building is home to the MSU College of Agriculture’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences.
Not a year into her administration, President Cruzado also launched an ambitious campaign to raise $10 million for a 7,200-seat renovation of the south end zone of Bobcat Stadium. The funds were raised in a record amount of time and the renovation was completed for the 2011 football season, a 10 month project from start to finish. The end zone project greatly enhances the game-day experience of all MSU students in attendance, while improving the practice and competition environment for the MSU Track and Field Complex. Importantly for President Cruzado, the expansion serves to strengthen a sense of community between MSU’s students, faculty and staff with its alumni, fans and friends.
In the fall of 2012, President Cruzado announced the construction of Jabs Hall, a new building to become the home of the MSU Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Jabs Hall, dedicated in May 2015, was made possible thanks to a $25 million gift from MSU alumnus Jake Jabs (1952), president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse in Denver. In her first year, President Cruzado also welcomed a $3 million gift to MSU from Jabs, who generously funded the Jabs Entrepreneurship Center at Montana State University.
In March 2014, President Cruzado announced that MSU alumnus Norm Asbjornson (1960) had committed $50 million for its College of Engineering – the largest private gift in the history of the state. Asbjornson’s gift will fund the construction of an innovative classroom and laboratory facility that will enable collaborative, hands-on learning and leadership. The building, to be named the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center, is envisioned to promote dynamic interdisciplinary engagement, meaningful student-faculty interaction, and accelerated innovation that responds to and anticipates emerging trends in education, industry and society. University officials will break ground in 2016.
President Cruzado has made improvements to student facilities a priority. In 2011, she led the university to secure $15 million in bonding authority for upgrading Langford and Hapner student residence halls. President Cruzado made sure students were involved in all phases of the design process. In fall 2013, Gallatin Hall opened. The $7 million upper-classmen residence hall was built using sustainable construction methods and is LEED gold certified. In fall 2013, MSU won approval from the Board of Regents to build the new Yellowstone Hall, a $35 million, 400-bed freshman residence hall to help accommodate planned campus growth; the first freshman residence built at Montana State in 50 years. In the fall of 2015, President Cruzado inaugurated the award-winning Miller Dining Hall, at a cost of $15 million, and the Board of Regents approved additional bond authority for a second dining facility at a cost of $15 million, scheduled for 2018.
Other renovation projects completed under President Cruzado’s leadership include a renovation of the first floor of the MSU Library, an expansion of the Writing Center in Wilson Hall, numerous projects to modernize classrooms and to improve campus accessibility, and $9 million in energy conservation projects, which will upgrade all residence halls and other auxiliary facilities. The MSU Brick Breeden Fieldhouse was modernized in 2014 and the Student Union Ballrooms were renovated in 2015. President Cruzado oversaw the addition of nearly 800 parking slots around campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors. In the fall of 2015, President Cruzado broke ground on a $12.5 million parking garage building, which will be the first parking garage in the history of Montana State University.
President Cruzado has provided new pathways to higher education with the establishment of Gallatin College Montana State University and its range of two-year degrees and one-year certificates. Gallatin College MSU had been formerly known as MSU-Great Falls College of Technology in Bozeman and was located away from the central campus. With the renaming, Gallatin College was also given offices and classrooms in Hamilton Hall, located in the campus center. In fall 2013, Gallatin Valley voters overwhelmingly passed a property tax to support and expand Gallatin College MSU.
Under President Cruzado’s leadership, in 2013 Montana State University won a grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation for the Blackstone LaunchPad, a program that introduces entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provides university students with a network of venture coaches and entrepreneurial support to transform new ideas into sustainable companies.
Montana State University was named the winner of the prestigious C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in the fall of 2011. Montana State was recognized for the contributions its students have made in bringing clean water to a region in Kenya through the work of the MSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Given just once a year, the Magrath award recognizes a four-year public university that embraces outreach and community engagement.
Also in 2011, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awarded MSU its community engagement classification in recognition of the university’s commitment to teaching that encourages volunteer service and the spreading of knowledge that benefits the public. Montana State University is among only 311 universities out of more than 4,400 nationally to receive such recognition.
President Cruzado has inaugurated an era of greater campus communication with regular memos and communications emailed to students, faculty and staff on MSU’s four campuses, as well as MSU Extension and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station’s Research Centers across the state. President Cruzado reformulated the Commencement ceremony, converting from one to three sections every year, including the reinstatement of the Fall ceremony, a tradition that dated back to 1945 at Montana State College, the old name of the institution. She also initiated the “Pure Gold” program, a weekly recognition of student and employee excellence, as well as a new Promotion and Tenure Dinner for faculty and a “Years of Service” Ceremony for staff. Under her leadership, MSU’s flagship campus in Bozeman also undertook and completed a massive strategic planning effort, resulting in MSU’s strategic plan, “Mountains and Minds: Learners and Leaders.”
President Cruzado has enhanced MSU’s alumni and community relations. Perhaps her most visible community project has been the “CatWalk on Main,” a celebration of the relationship between MSU and the community during which the president and the MSU Spirit of the West Marching Band visit local businesses at the start of each academic year.
President Cruzado was honored as the 2011 Michael P. Malone Educator of the Year from the Montana Ambassadors for demonstrating outstanding accomplishment, excellence and leadership in the field of education. She also was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International and, in November 2012, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities awarded President Cruzado the Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lectureship, in honor of the founder of the Cooperative Extension Service.
In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed President Cruzado to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, a seven-member advisory council that advises USAID on agriculture, rural development and nutrition issues related to global food insecurity. In 2013, President Cruzado also began serving on Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy in 2013, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth announced a three-person task force to conduct a wide-ranging review of its policies and procedures, with President Cruzado serving as the task force’s chair.
In 2014, President Cruzado was elected to serve a three-year term on the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board of Directors, the governing and policymaking body of the oldest university association in the nation.
In 2015, President Cruzado received the “Hero” Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Montana Chapter, for her initiative and commitment to the establishment of the MSU Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery, with an emphasis on suicidality. In that same year, President Cruzado was appointed to the inaugural Hispanic Advisory Board for TIAA-CREF.
Prior to coming to MSU, President Cruzado served as executive vice president and provost at New Mexico State University, a post she held since Sept. 1, 2007, and served as NMSU’s interim president from 2008-2009. She also served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at NMSU (2003-2007) and as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Puerto Rico’s land-grant university, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.
A native of Puerto Rico, President Cruzado has a son, Dr. Gerald Mazo, and a daughter, Brenda Nicole Mazo. She is also the proud grandmother of Aurora and Celeste.