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Amazing Franke Wilmer


Rep. Franke Wilmer is a full professor at Montana State University in Bozeman.


What I do, and why it matters: I knew when I finished my PhD that I wanted to continue both teaching and scholarship and the position at MSU was a perfect fit with my field-specific training and interests and commitment to high quality teaching and expectations of research/scholarship productivity. I am able to link research with teaching in international human rights, international law, and war and peace.


The best testament to the symbiotic value of this link is that I have just completed my third book (first text book) on the subject of international human rights, inspired and informed by teaching a senior-level course on the subject over the past 18 years at MSU.


I was able to bring the fruits of my research on the subjects I've studied and written about - war crimes, genocide, laws of warfare, and the relationship between human rights violations and group (racial, ethnic, religious) discrimination as well as women's human rights - to bear on undergraduate political science education nationally (and perhaps internationally).


On a more concrete level, after 18 years I can now count as many as several dozen former students who are now working in high-profile public policy or political communication positions throughout the US, both in and out of Montana. Others have gone on to graduate school and are themselves pursuing academic careers.


Best kind of day on the job: A class discussion that engages students in debating and critically examining their own and others' points of view -- when I see the "light come on" in students' eyes and when they stay after class, follow me out the door, and continue the discussion with me and even better, with one another after the class is over.


Why I belong to MEA-MFT: To promote transparency and fairness in campus policies affecting faculty and their mission.


What I do for fun/ what I dream about: Sailing....sailing...sailing... And when that is not possible (in Montana that would be 9 months a year), I love doing anything that gets me outdoors -- fishing, hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, and regular doses of almost any kind of music and theater performed live.


Family/community involvement: I am very lucky that my daughter and her four children live in Bozeman. All are or have been students in K-12 or higher education. My daughter is still working to complete her degree in psychology at MSU while raising her kids and keeping a personal chef business going. Of her children, the oldest is now a student at MSU, another attends Bozeman High School, and the two youngest are first graders at Longfellow Elementary.


I have been active as a founding member of the Gallatin Human Rights Task Force, past chair of the Montana Committee for the Humanities, and in my third year serving on the board of Congregation Beth Shalom. I have spoken over the years to numerous public groups - including the Rotarians, the Pachyderms, anti-war rallies, community forums on UN Day, Guantanamo Bay and International Law, Holocaust Memorial Day, and International Human Rights Day.


Good book or movie I've enjoyed lately: Just finished THE RED TENT and am currently reading THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. Slumdog Millionaire was fantastic -- and a little more meaningful because I once spent three weeks in Mumbai and took the second class train through the slums every day. I remember taking a back pack full of nutri-bars to give to the "beggar kids" because we knew about the "mafia" exploiting them. If we gave them nutri-bars we at least knew that they had something to eat. Now I know the stories behind the kids' tortured lives.


My hopes/ambitions for this session: Civility above all -- agreement in principle on maintaining an ending fund balance of $250-$290 million and working to achieve bipartisan agreement (which of course will not be 100%), and passing a few good policy bills.


I wish we could make more progress on clean energy and will work over the interim with colleagues (in both houses and both branches) and stakeholders with diverse concerns and interests to move that agenda forward in 2011.


Read about other Amazing MEA-MFT members.