President's Perspective

UM President Seth Bodnar and Dr. Chelsea Bodnar share their vision for S.E.A. Change


Categories: Alumni , Campus , Academic , Athletics , History , Research , Arts

UM President Seth Bodnar and Dr. Chelsea BodnarSitting in Jeannette Rankin Hall is fitting for this special issue of the Montanan, which is entirely dedicated to showcasing UM’s inspiring women and their contributions to a better, more equitable world for all.

Exactly 100 years ago, UM alumna Jeannette Rankin carved a legacy alongside other American suffragists to secure the women’s vote as a constitutional right. Rankin’s advocacy and spirit inspires us today, as do the many UM students, faculty, staff and alumni making diverse strides toward equality.

Working with many others, Chelsea and I launched the S.E.A. Change Initiative this past year. A carefully selected acronym, S.E.A. stands for a Safe and Empowering campus for all women and a community that Accelerates their careers and lives of impact.

S.E.A. Change renews UM’s commitment to being a campus and alumni community that fosters and celebrates the incredible potential and contributions of UM women.

This issue is full of inspiring examples and brave agents of change.

Lana Batts ’68 rose to national prominence in the male-dominated trucking industry by creating a path of her own. UM journalism student, Jordynn Paz, wants to change the way Native American people are portrayed in media. Jessi Kopperdahl is a single mother balancing the demands of a neuroscience degree and making time to mentor other first-generation college students. Abigail Belcher parlays her student government presidency into meaningful service for students, and Evelyn Wall started a student group for the LGBTQ+ community to feel safe and thrive in the outdoors.

Each of these women found a community and motivation at UM to challenge the status quo for themselves and others.

We also are motivated by those who are inspired to fuel deliberate efforts for equality, like Dennis and Gretchen Eck, who generously gifted UM $1.25 million in support of S.E.A. Change and Missoula’s Clearwater Credit Union which provided financial support to renew UM’s Women’s Leadership Initiative for faculty, staff and rising stars across Montana’s workplaces.

The 19th Amendment’s historical centennial allows our greater UM community to think deeply and critically about what equal rights and opportunity mean for our modern times in every sector of society.

We honor the path carved by those before us.

We recognize there is always work to be done. We invite you to follow along with the people, programs and places involved with S.E.A. Change at, where you can also give directly to these important programs.

Most importantly, we hope that as you settle into this issue of the Montanan, you feel renewed pride in the role your University is playing in the lives of powerful, compassionate and successful women of every generation.

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