Board of Regents Unanimously Approve Selection of UM’s Next President
MISSOULA – The Montana Board of Regents unanimously gave its stamp of approval Nov. 16 for Seth Bodnar to become the University of Montana’s next president.
Bodnar will begin his new duties in January 2018.
In remarks after the vote confirming his appointment, Bodnar said, “I can’t think of a more important fight than public higher education. It is fundamentally important, and it is a privilege to be on this team.”
“We couldn’t be more excited for him to arrive and bring his experience, ideas and energy to the University,” current UM President Sheila Stearns said. “It’s a challenging job, but Seth Bodnar will make an excellent leader for UM.”
Bodnar has deep roots in education and firmly believes in the power of higher education to transform lives and communities. The son of two educators, he is passionate about teaching and mentorship and has received multiple honors for his leadership and coaching.
Bodnar graduated first in his class from West Point, received both the Rhodes and Truman scholarships, and earned two masters degrees from the University of Oxford. He served as an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point, where he taught economics, published research on economic development in conflict areas, mentored cadets applying for postgraduate scholarships and led field training courses on leadership.
He continues to serve as an Army Reserve officer and a visiting faculty member at West Point, and he is a board member of The Positivity Project, a nonprofit organization focused on character education.
Before his time on the West Point faculty, Bodnar had a distinguished military career, serving in the 101st Airborne Division and the U.S. Army’s First Special Forces Group. As a member of the Army’s elite Green Berets, he commanded a Special Forces detachment on multiple deployments around the world and later served as a special assistant to the commanding general in Iraq. As a result of his collaborative leadership style and his ability to lead teams through uncertainty and change, he received numerous awards and was promoted early to the rank of major.
Bodnar is now a senior executive at General Electric Co., where he is responsible for long-term strategy and business transformation at GE Transportation, a global company with over 10,000 employees and approximately $5 billion in revenue.
Previously, he was president of GE Transportation’s Digital Solutions business and was GE Transportation’s first-ever chief digital officer. In this capacity, Bodnar merged multiple teams from across GE – along with two acquired companies – into an integrated business with about 1,500 employees around the world. By implementing a rigorous operating process and a cohesive, mission-driven strategy, he and his team dramatically improved the business’s operational performance, launched innovative new products and enabled double-digit growth.
An effective communicator with varied audiences, Bodnar is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences globally and has been an invited speaker to the U.S. Congress on technology and innovation.
His love for Montana bloomed while studying at Oxford, where he met fellow Rhodes scholar and his future wife, Chelsea Elander, a fifth-generation Montanan and native of Missoula. Chelsea is a pediatrician and a graduate of Hellgate High School, Montana State University, Oxford and Harvard Medical School. Chelsea and Seth have three children.
His resume is online.