New Chancellor Selected for Montana Tech



Contact: Royce C. Engstrom, UM president, 406-243-2311,; Donald M. Blackketter, dean, University of Idaho College of Engineering, 208-596-0915,


Pending Board of Regents approval, Montana Tech of The University of Montana has its next chancellor.

UM President Royce C. Engstrom, guided by a 25-member Montana Tech search committee, has selected Donald Blackketter for the chancellorship in Butte. Blackketter currently serves as dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

“As people who grew up in Bozeman, my wife and I are excited by this opportunity to return to Montana,” Blackketter said. “With its clear institutional emphasis on engineering, science, business, health, informational sciences, liberal studies and technology, Montana Tech is positioned to continue to be an educational leader and to become nationally recognized as a leading research institution.

“My wife, Vicki, and I are excited to begin partnering with faculty, staff, students, alumni and Tech friends in helping Montana Tech achieve these goals,” he said.

Led by Doug Coe, a dean and search committee chair, Montana Tech started its chancellor search in December. Blackketter was selected from among four finalists and will start his new job June 27, replacing Montana Tech Chancellor Frank Gilmore, who served for 13 years.

Blackketter will earn $197,000 annually, plus the use of the president’s house and car.

“We had four exceptional finalists to choose from, including a strong internal candidate,” Engstrom said. “Dr. Blackketter will make an excellent chancellor, and I could not be more pleased by the outcome of the search. I look forward to a bright future for Montana Tech under his leadership.”

Engstrom will recommend the Montana Board of Regents hire Blackketter at its May 19 meeting at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell.

Blackketter earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Wyoming. After earning his doctorate, he joined UI in 1989 as a mechanical engineering assistant professor and moved through the ranks to become a full professor in 1997.

He was assistant director for the National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology from 1998 to 2005, including one year as acting director. In 2005 he was elected chair of UI’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and he accepted appointment as dean of the College of Engineering in December 2008.

Blackketter has been an active researcher for more than 20 years, focusing on solid mechanics and receiving more than $3.7 million in funding from a variety of sources. He has performed research and published in areas that include composite materials, biomechanics, numerical methods and hybrid vehicles.

The Blackketters have three grown children: Riley and wife, Meghan; Britni and husband, Jonathon; and Shadd and his wife, Heather.