Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, will receive an honorary doctorate degree in letters from Montana State University during the university’s fall commencement, university officials announced Friday.
MSU's fall commencement ceremonies are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.
Called “an eloquent advocate and steward of the world’s first national park,” Wenk has been superintendent of Yellowstone National Park since February 2011. In his position at the helm of the “crown jewel” of American parks, he manages more than 2.2 million acres, millions of visitors, a staff of 800 and an annual base budget of more than $36 million. He is concerned with a wide variety of issues ranging from wolves and grizzly bear management to snowmobile access and visitor use management. His job has been described as one of the most difficult but most essential jobs in America today.
“Through his support of research endeavors and student access to the park, Superintendent Wenk has reinforced the long-standing ties between Yellowstone National Park and our university, strengthening MSU’s status as the ‘University of the Yellowstone,’” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Not only is Superintendent Wenk a fierce believer in the vital role of land-grant universities, he is an advocate for access of the park to all Americans. He is extremely deserving of this award, the highest recognition that MSU can bestow.”
A native of Michigan, Wenk has a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Michigan State University. He joined the National Park Service in 1975 as a landscape architect at the Denver Service Center and was the landscape architect for Yellowstone National Park from 1979-1984. Prior to being named superintendent of Yellowstone, Wenk was deputy director of operations for the National Park Service from 2007-2011. During that time, he served as acting director of the National Park Service for nine months of 2009 during an administration transition. Previously, he was superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
During his time at Yellowstone, Wenk has worked closely with MSU, deepening the relationship between Yellowstone’s research unit and faculty and students in many university programs, providing MSU students with real-world experience and access to some of the world’s brightest minds in the fields of applied ecology, geography, geology and the social sciences. During his 42-year career with the NPS, Wenk has received numerous honors, including the Department of the Interior’s Meritorious Service Award and the Secretary’s Environmental Leadership Award, and the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award for Senior Executives in 2010.
For more information about MSU's fall commencement, visit http://www.montana.edu/commencement/.