Letter from Dean Matt Caires

MSU Students,

Welcome back to campus.  I hope that you’re settling in for a dynamic and successful semester. I also hope that you were able to spend some relaxing time away from campus this summer.

As some of you know, this was my first summer as a Bozeman resident.  I took full advantage of the various mountain ranges and single-track that abounds in the Gallatin Valley.  I also spent two days hiking the “Devil’s Backbone” in the high alpine of the Gallatin National Forest.  If you haven’t done this yet, I highly encourage you to do so before your graduation.

One of the most difficult parts of my job is supporting friends and family members when a student in our academic community passes away.  I am sad to report that three of our students passed away during this past summer. I would like to share a little bit about each student as we remember the unique contributions they made to our campus.

Ethan Strauser, a senior studying film and photography, passed away in early May in a car accident on I-90 on his way to his summer internship.  Ethan loved riding motorcycles and quads, and he was talented enough to do tricks while launching himself off jumps.  He was also an avid photographer.  Some of Ethan’s work can be found at: http://ethanstrauserphotography.smugmug.com.

We lost another student member of our community in early June in a tragic kayaking accident on the Gallatin River.  Harold-Allen Vaughan III, from Ennis, MT, was a senior at MSU studying business finance.  He was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed hiking, fishing and snowboarding, and was dedicated to his church and had a passion for Christ.

Finally, I was deeply impacted by the loss of Karston Waarvik in August in a car accident near Big Sky.  Many of us knew Karston on campus as an active member of Sigma Chi, student government and the Diversity Awareness Board. Karston was the type of student who loved to debate, and I can remember several heated conversations with him in the SUB last year as we discussed the merits of various university policies.  I will very much miss these conversations with him in the future.

The loss of these three students is simply tragic, but their passing gives us an opportunity to pause and celebrate their contributions to our campus.  I hope that we can occasionally pause and reflect on the tremendous contributions our students make to MSU, and to get to know them individually. The painful nature of these students passing away is difficult for many of us on campus. I encourage students to talk about the emotions they face when dealing with these types of difficult issues. Our Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) is available for all students, and I would urge you to take advantage of this excellent service.

I wish you all well as we begin another semester at MSU.

Dean Matt Caires