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Phil Willett To Receive UMW Alumni Distinguished Service Award

UMW Press Release

The University of Montana Western’s 126th Annual Commencement Ceremony, to be held on Saturday, May 6, 2023, will honor Phil Willett with the University’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award.

Willett graduated from Montana Western in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science and a minor in history. He went on to receive a Graduate Degree of Banking from University of Washington Pacific Coast Banking School.

Willett has been involved with Montana Western in various capacities for over 20 years. He has been on the Montana Western Foundation Board of Directors since 2016 and currently serves as the Board Chairman and on the current Capital Campaign Committee. He was a member of the most recent search committees for both the UMW Chancellor and Athletic Director positions in 2020/2021.

Currently, Willett serves as the President/CEO of Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Association, with locations in Dillon and Deer Lodge. He has been in the banking industry for 20 years with experience in all aspects of banking and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Montana Independent Bankers Association, a state board that serves Montana’s community banks with support, advocacy, training, and benefits.

Willett has served multiple terms on the Southwest Montana Family YMCA Board, as President of the Beaverhead Golf Course Board, Treasurer of the Dillon Jaycees, coached youth soccer and basketball teams, and currently serves on the Engine 18 Foundation Board. He was awarded the Outstanding Young Man Award by the Dillon Jaycees in 2011 for his dedicated service to the community. He has served as a UMW assistant football coach, a radio and TV announcer, and his family has hosted members of the women’s basketball team for many years.

He and his wife, Ashley, also a Montana Western graduate, are the proud parents of daughter Gabby and enjoy spending time together by attending her many activities. Avid golfers, they also attend many community events and support student-athletes at Beaver and Bulldog games.

“Montana Western is proud to honor Phil Willett with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. Phil’s support of the university and community is unparalleled. We are grateful for his commitment to Montana Western and for the opportunity to recognize his years of dedication,” said Montana Western Foundation and Alumni Director, Roxanne Engellant.

The Montana Western Alumni Office will host a luncheon in the Lewis and Clark Room in Mathews Hall on Friday, May 5, at 11:30 a.m. to honor Willett and the Montana Western Classes of 1998 and 1973. Tickets can be purchased for $15 by calling 406-683-7306. The Commencement Ceremony will begin the following day at 10 a.m. in the Straugh Gymnasium on the University of Montana Western campus.

For more information, please contact Montana Western Foundation and Alumni Director, Roxanne Engellant: 406-683-7305 or

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