Gratitude for Higher Education and The University of Montana


As the calendar year comes to an end, gratitude has clearly become my theme for closing out 2019.

There are, of course, no perfect people, no perfect professions, and no perfect institutions. Such is the nature of everything that involves humans. But this gratitude essay (and video) is about my gratitude for higher education and for the University of Montana, in particular.

Below I’ve posted my 4 minute acceptance speech from this past spring, when I received the George M. Dennison Presidential Faculty Award. Because I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, I did a short video-recorded thank-you talk. As it turned out, the talk felt very emotional to me, because I spoke about how higher education has changed my life (for the better!).

My higher education experiences included Mount Hood Community College (where I went to play football and baseball), Oregon State University (more football and some psychology), and the University of Montana (graduate school and personal transformations). The memories from these experiences are mostly fantastic. Here’s the video:

14 thoughts on “Gratitude for Higher Education and The University of Montana”

  1. Congratulations to you, sir! So very well deserved! It is an honor to have your wisdom & knowledge shaped me during my graduate studies for counseling. I enjoy everything I read and because you are phenomenal- I embrace it deeply- in the crevices of my being. You & Ms. Rita are truly amazing. As you stated- the words are small but the meaning is GIGANTIC— THANK YOU, IMMENSELY!
    Hope to meet you one day! If ever you all are in Houston, TX for seminars, conferences or other, let me know! I’ll attend wherever you are.

    Also- I’m takin CPCE very soon! Please send positive vibes and energy my way! Lol I graduate May 9, 2020. So excited!
    #HigherEducation

    1. Hi Michell. Thanks so much for your very kind message. Hearing that our work has had a positive influence on you and your professional development means a lot. For Rita and me, that’s the main point of writing. I’ll be in San Diego for ACA, but that’s the closest I’ll be to Houston for a while. Next time I get a gig in Texas, I’ll let you know. Congrats on your upcoming graduation. Well done! All my best to you.

      1. Mr. John- that sounds great! I’ll remain faithful by following you & if you mention you all are in or closer to Texas, I’ll know then.
        Thank you!
        Many Blessings – Michell

    1. Thanks Gary (aka Ospreypaddler). You’re always so darn supportive. I hope to see you this spring semester when I’m back in Missoula! All my best to you and Joyce. I hope your Christmas and New Year’s are awesome, just like the two of you. John

  2. John, I really appreciated the video clip. In my youth I too was shy, had identify issues, and didn’t even come close to having a voice. Doin’ better now on all three. Thanks for the video.

  3. Nice to be honored by UM, your recognition is well deserved! Your legacy building a highly respected graduate counseling program, helping to produce some fine graduates, some of whom became my co-workers, and fellow manager speaks of excellence! Fine work, but save some time for golf!

  4. Hi JOHNNY, Very nice, You should be proud. You’ve worked hard. And what’s clear to me is most people don’t know you for your accomplishments, they know you as a really nice man. Hope to see you around Ric Mcleod

    1. Hey, thanks Ricky!! I very much appreciate you and all you’ve done for young people and angry people in Missoula. And I not just saying that because I’m a nice guy, although I appreciate you saying that too. Have a great weekend.

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