Roles and Responsibilities of Acting Deans

Acting Dean, Students

Monte Mills

Monte Mills is a professor and co-director of the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the law school. Mills, along with his current colleague, Assistant Professor and Clinic Co-Director Kekek Stark, and former colleague and Clinic Co-Director, Maylinn Smith, has helped lead a reinvigoration of the school’s Indian and tribal law program and teaches a variety of law courses in addition to his work in the Clinic. He helps advise a range of student groups, including the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) and the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and serves in a variety of service roles within both the School of Law and the University.

In 2020, Mills and colleague Professor Andrew King-Ries were recognized as MUS Teaching Scholars for their collaborative work on race and racism within the legal system and legal academia. Mills is also a leading scholar on tribal sovereignty and natural resources, having recently co-authored a comprehensive report on tribal co-management of federal public lands and A Third Way: Decolonizing the Laws of Indigenous Cultural Protection, a book published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. Prior to joining the Law School faculty, Mills served as director of the legal department for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado.

Mills earned his B.A. from Lewis & Clark College and his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law.

In general, the Acting Dean of Students is responsible for:

  • Career Development
  • Student Services
  • Internal communications for the law school
  • Student support

Acting Dean, Public Administration and Policy, MPA Director

Sara RinfretDr. Sara Rinfret currently serves as an Acting Dean and MPA Director for the School of Law. Since coming to the University of Montana in 2014, she led the strategic charge to create the first-ever Department of Public Administration and Policy in Montana, housed within in the School of Law in the United States. Due to her leadership, the School of Law’s Master of Public Administration Program and related programs at the graduate and undergraduate level have steadily increased enrollment.

Rinfret is also a nationally recognized teacher and scholar. In 2020, she was the recipient of the Mike Malone Montana Educator of the Year. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and six books focused on administrative rulemaking and environmental policy.  Rinfret was elected for a three-year term to NASPAA’s Executive Council, the accreditation body for public administration and policy programs across the globe. She has a strong commitment to student success, supporting the professional development of her colleagues, and diversity education, having worked throughout her career to improve outcomes of women and marginalized populations in law, public administration and policy.

Rinfret earned a B.A. in political science and history from Otterbein University, an M.P.A. from the Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs and Ph.D. in political science from Northern Arizona University.

In general, the Acting Dean, Public Administration and Policy/MPA Director is responsible for:

  • Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy (CNREP)
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Representation for the law school at Deans Meetings and Academic Officer Meetings
  • Internal and external communications for DPAP
  • Faculty evaluations for DPAP (in conjunction with Office of the Provost)
  • Lead for DPAP meetings
  • Budget co-lead
  • DPAP scheduling, curriculum, student concerns
  • NASPAA Representative

Acting Dean, Academic Affairs

Cathay Y. N. SmithCathay Y. N. Smith is a professor at the Blewett School of Law. She joined the faculty at Montana in 2015 after a teaching fellowship at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  Prior to that Smith practiced as an intellectual property law litigator at the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in Chicago, Illinois, where she represented multinational technology, fashion and entertainment and media corporations in intellectual property disputes.  She is admitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Third Circuit and Federal Circuit. 

Since joining the faculty, Smith has redeveloped the Property Law curriculum and created several new courses in intellectual property and property law.  She is an active member of the IP Law Section of the Montana Bar and co-organizes an annual IP Day in Montana conference.  Her research focuses on trademark and copyright law and theory, and their intersection with art, culture, and society.  She is a nationally recognized scholar in copyright law and her scholarship has appeared in the William and Mary Law Review, Yale Law Journal Forum, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Georgetown Law Journal Online, Cornell Law Review Online and other national law journals.  Smith currently serves as the chair-elect of the American Association of Law School’s IP Section.

Smith earned her BSc. with Special Attainments in Commerce from Washington and Lee University, her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and an MSc. in Law, Anthropology, and Society from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In general, the Acting Dean of Academic Affairs is responsible for:

  • IT
  • Jameson Law Library
  • Internal communications for the law school
  • Communications with ABA, AALS, US News
  • Budget co-lead
  • Faculty evaluations
  • ABA Representative
  • Law scheduling, curriculum, and lead for law meetings