UM Selects 2020 Distinguished Alumni

This year's UM Distinguished Alumni: Lynette Stein-Chandler, Meg Oliver, Katie Grove, Mike Halligan, Roger Barber, Nancy Kaser-Boyd and Leslie Halligan.

MISSOULA – In honor of Homecoming Week, the University of Montana Alumni Association has announced seven recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award for their service, leadership and distinction in their fields. 

The 2020 Distinguished Alumni include an award-winning journalist, a former senator, a district court judge, an expert in clinical psychology, a previous academic deputy commissioner, an American Indian educator and one of the first female athletic trainers. They are:

  • Roger Barber ’67, J.D. ’71, M.B.A. ’83, of Whitefish, who has used his UM education to give back to his home state. He worked for the historic 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention and, after a brief hiatus in Washington, D.C., he returned to Montana and served as a faculty member at UM’s business school before moving to MSU-Northern.

There, he became the first faculty member hired for the college’s new bachelor’s degree in business, was promoted to full professor and served in several leadership roles. In 2003, Barber was asked to serve as deputy commissioner for academic and student affairs in the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education for the Montana University System. Under his leadership, the university system improved credit transferability between its campuses and made changes benefiting all Montana students.

  • Katie Grove ’73, of St. Paul, Minnesota, who has advanced women in athletic training for more than 40 years. One of the first female athletic trainers in the Midwest, she developed the Women in Athletic Training Task Force and the Women in Athletic Training Committee to help promote women and educate members on pay equity, honors and awards, sexual harassment and women’s exclusion in job opportunities. She also founded the Women in Leadership program in 2018.

Grove has been entered into numerous halls of fame, including the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2015, and she has garnered several national industry awards for her service as an athletic trainer, mentor, teacher and scholar. Just this year she received NATA’s Gail Weldon Award of Excellence. 

  • Mike Halligan ’75, M.P.A. ’77, J.D. ’85, of Missoula, who is a Vietnam vet and a former senator in the Montana Legislature. He has worked as a Missoula deputy county attorney, supervising attorney for the Montana Department of Justice’s Child Protection Unit and owner of a private family law practice. Since 2002, Mike has directed UM’s philanthropic Dennis and Phyllis J. Washington Foundation, and he remains connected to the community through volunteer work.
  • Leslie Halligan ’83, J.D. ’86, of Missoula has served as district court judge for the Fourth Judicial Court since her appointment in 2015 by Gov. Steve Bullock. She is chair of the Missoula Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and previously worked as a Missoula deputy city attorney and Missoula deputy county attorney. She was elected president of the State Bar of Montana in 2017.
  • Nancy Kaser-Boyd, M.A. ’79, Ph.D. ’80, of Studio City, California, who is a recognized expert in the field of clinical psychology. In addition to serving as a clinical professor at University of California, Los Angeles, she trains psychology graduate students, medical students and psychiatry residents in psychological assessment and consults with University of Southern California’s law school on prison inmates filing appeals.

A member of Los Angeles County Superior Court Panels of Psychiatrists and Psychologists, Kaser-Boyd is a consultant on criminal cases throughout California and the western U.S. – primarily focused on cases where battered women kill abusive spouses.

She has authored numerous book chapters and journal articles and is active in various professional organizations. Twice she has received the Outstanding Superior Court Panel Expert Award from the Juvenile Courts Bar Association of Los Angeles County.

  • Meg Oliver ’93, of Montclair, New Jersey, who is an award-winning CBS News correspondent with more than two decades of journalism experience. She joined CBS News in 2006 as overnight anchor of “Up to the Minute” and correspondent for “The Early Show” and today reports for all CBS programs and platforms.

She has covered breaking news stories around the county and world, such as the London Bridge terrorist arrack and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Other major stories she has reported include a Florida teenager who ran away with her soccer coach, the number of unreported deaths at trampoline parks and the opioid epidemic, as well as the current pandemic.

Oliver has earned several Society of Professional Journalist honors and Associated Press Awards for breaking news and continuing coverage.

  • Although Lynette Stein-Chandler, Ed.D. ’10, died in 2017, she left behind a legacy in American Indian education.

A member of the Aaniiih and of Nakoda descent, Stein-Chandler, known as Dancing Woman, and her husband were the first graduates of Montana State University’s Native American Studies master’s program. In 2003, Stein-Chandler founded the private K-8 White Clay Language Immersion School and revitalized the language through increasing fluent speakers on Montana’s Fort Belknap Reservation. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Peru and Guatemala and received a Doctor of Education from UM in 2010.

Stein-Chandler earned the 2011 Unsung Hero Award, 2012 Montana Indian Educator of the Year and UM’s 2013 Educational Leadership Excellence Award. The Fort Belknap Indian Community declared May 7, 2012, Dr. Lynette Chandler Day in her honor.

Although the Homecoming Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony is canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the recipients will be honored in a future ceremony. Read more about this year’s Distinguished Alumni on the Office of Alumni Relations website.


Contact: Jodi Moreau, engagement/board relations, UM Office of Alumni Relations, 406-243-6124,