Minutes after having the word “interim” dropped from his title, new Rocky Mountain College President Robert Wilmouth was rolling up his sleeves.
“Time to go to work,” he said.
The Rocky board of trustees selected Wilmouth, 56, for his strong leadership qualities, which he has shown during his months as interim president and while leading the school’s physician assistant program for several years, said Carl Hansen, Rocky’s board chairman.
Wilmouth also had strong support from Rocky students, faculty and staff.
“Rocky is doing well and he will do great things for Rocky,” Hansen said Friday evening.
Wilmouth, a longtime Billings physician, said he was honored and humbled to have been chosen after a national search.
Among his goals is fundraising for a new science building to replace the current one that is too small and out of date.
He’s concerned that Rocky is losing some students who want to major in a science because the facility is too old.
The dynamic science faculty needs the right tools to teach students, he said.
Wilmouth doesn’t plan to add any new academic programs, saying that one of Rocky’s strengths is its current curriculum.
Maintaining the school’s enrollment, which now is between 900 and 1,000 students, also is important, he said.
Wilmouth is the first physician to be president at Rocky, which traces its roots back to the earliest colleges in Montana, said Lawrence Small, a retired Rocky president who has written a history of the college.
Wilmouth grew up in Evanston, Ill., and graduated from Notre Dame University. He worked at IBM in marketing for two years before heading to the University of Illinois School of Medicine. He went on to specialize in surgery and then cardiothoracic surgery before coming to Billings Clinic in 1992.
He was an adjunct professor in Rocky’s PA program for 15 years before being named its director and associate professor in 2008.
Wilmouth’s wife, Liz, is well-known around Billings as a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations and will be helping Rocky on future financial campaigns, he said.
They have two daughters.
Katie, finishing up a degree at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., will be going to Notre Dame Law School this fall, joining her sister, Maggie, who is in her second undergraduate year at the South Bend, Ind., school.
Wilmouth became interim president Jan. 1.
Last fall, Michael Mace announced he planned to retire at the end of this school year. In November, he asked the board for a medical leave and six-month sabbatical through the end of June.
The process of replacing Mace began last fall. The board received applications from 54 candidates, which were narrowed by a search committee to two candidates who had on-campus interviews.
David Evans, an academic vice president at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, was the other finalist.
During an initial vote Friday, Wilmouth received a majority, Hansen said. The board then voted unanimously to confirm him as president.
Asked about Wilmouth’s salary and length of contract, Hansen said a contract is still being worked out.
Mace’s salary was nearly $190,000, according to the college’s 990 federal form for the tax year ending June 2011.