Six months have gone by since Adrienne Corti passed away, but her legacy at the University of Montana continues to grow, and could reach a pinnacle next spring through a scholarship in her name.

Described by her family as an “Italian Eveready bunny,” Corti’s presence at the university has been greatly missed since her death in May.

But the programs she built during her tenure in the Department of Health and Human Performance continue to grow, and others are reaping the benefits of her work, both on and off campus.

“She taught the first responder, emergency care and CPR courses, and was certified as a wilderness EMT,” said Erika Twedt, director of development and alumni relations for the College of Education and Human Sciences. “She did a lot of work, not just with our college, but with the community.”

Think ski patrol and ski instructor, hiker and biker. Toss in Missoula Freestyle and more than 100 campus recreation programs and one begins to get the picture.

“She was responsible for my hiring at UM, and I owe much of my professional career to her,” said Chris Riley, director of ACTivity Classes and Accounting within HHP. “We’d like to honor her – something to remember her by. We came up with the scholarship idea.”

That idea was born shortly after Corti’s passing, and work to raise money for the endowment will likely begin next month after a group of supporters gathers to kick off the fundraising efforts.

As envisioned, the Adrienne Corti Memorial Scholarship will go each year to a UM student with a connection to the outdoors – and a student who is looking to pursue certification as a wilderness emergency medicine technician.

Supporters hope to make the first scholarship available next spring. And they hope to establish it in perpetuity.

“Our fundraising goal is $50,000, as we’re trying to do an endowment so it can be given out every year,” said Valerie Moody, an associate professor in HHP. “(Corti) was heavily involved and ingrained in our community, not just for UM. This is something we can do to give back to her.”

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Corti arrived in Missoula in 1980 to attend UM. She earned her master’s degree in recreation management and worked at the YWCA before signing on at UM, where she worked for the Wellness Center, Campus Recreation and Human Resources.

Shortly after 2000, Corti was hired by the Department of Health and Human Performance. As her obituary noted, she found her “work family” within the department. Off and running in her new position, she would come to shape the program.

“She pretty much laid the foundation for all of those programs within HHP,” Riley said. “We have one of the most diverse activity class programs, as far as peer institutions are compared.”

The program now offers more than 100 recreation sections each semester. Corti brought instructors to campus, establishing courses that ranged from yoga to belly dancing to snowboarding.

Described as college-level physical education, the one-credit courses are open to any university student. The program’s guiding principle? Keeping active amid the academic rigor.

“We believe in well-rounded students,” said Riley. “We want them active and to lead a healthy, physical lifestyle to balance out their academic work. We feel that students who have an active lifestyle do better in the program.”

Corti brought her own active lifestyle to the program. She served as a ski instructor and a Pro Patroller at Montana Snowbowl. She was active in Missoula Freestyle, and she worked for Aerie Backcountry Medicine.

It was that last connection that’s so closely tied to the Corti scholarship and the hopes of those behind it.

“Given her love of medicine, wilderness medicine in particular, we thought this would be a great way to depict everything she stood for,” said Moody. “We thought this would be a great way to honor her and to give that to other students.”

To donate or find out more, call 243-4568.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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