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Kelly Webster


Kelly Webster, director of the Writing Center at the University of Montana, will take on the role of chief of staff in the president's office starting March 12, UM President Seth Bodnar announced Monday in a campus communication.

"Kelly emerged as a knowledgeable institutional citizen with demonstrated commitment to initiatives that cross disciplines and sectors," Bodnar said in the email about the internal recruitment. "Her skills, optimism and sharp focus will help support our collective work."

Webster could not immediately be reached for comment via voicemail late afternoon Monday; the UM human resource office also could not be immediately reached via email about Webster's tenure at UM.

In 2015, Webster was appointed to the UM Women’s Leadership Initiative, according to Missoulian archives. She also served as a vice chair for UM's strategic plan coordinating council, and she was among the 20 members who sat last year on the search advisory board that recommended Bodnar as the UM president.

Bodnar took the helm of the flagship in January, and he announced the creation of the chief of staff position on the heels of voluntary severance offers to 84 staff members and the elimination of 12 lecturers. The chief of staff position was advertised at $75,000, but Bodnar earlier said the hire would not increase the budget in the president's office.

In the announcement Monday, Bodnar said Webster will work to reorganize the president's office, but he said its budget would remain the same as the current 2018 fiscal year. However, he also said the chief of staff would realign roles to best manage the office, events and receptions, and the office would post restructured roles soon.

In May, Rebecca Power, assistant to the president, will become a full time graduate student, and the president "will not backfill her position in its current form," Bodnar said in the campus communication. The president's assistant earns a salary of $67,639.

Going forward, Bodnar also said the $108,000 position of communications director Paula Short would be jointly funded by the president's office and integrated communications "to more accurately reflect the duties of her position." Short took on the integrated communications sector after Mario Schulzke announced his departure in December; his salary was $122,157 and was vacated through his acceptance of a voluntary severance offer.

"We continue to work through how best to align marketing and communications functions across the institution," Bodnar said in the email.

In his note, the president also said he appreciates the guidance he has received from campus members in the first months of his tenure.

"As I listen and learn in our conversations, I know that refreshing the president's office staffing structure will help best support the university's future direction and our important work," Bodnar said.

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Higher Education Reporter

Higher education / University of Montana reporter for the Missoulian.