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Educator, Innovator Andrew Montana Dies
Influential Early CSUF Faculty Member Succumbs After Long Fight With Cancer

Dec. 4, 2007 :: No. 114

Andrew F. Montana, emeritus professor of chemistry at California State University, Fullerton, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 77.

He passed away Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, in Edmonds, Wash., his home state.

Montana was one of the university’s early faculty members and played a major role in shaping how science, in general, and chemistry, in particular, are taught on campus.

“Andy loved the outdoors so much,” said his wife, Kay Montana. “He loved hiking and fishing and just being outdoors. Only his love of Cal State Fullerton and his students kept him there all those years.”

Montana taught at Cal State Fullerton for 29 years, then returned to Washington when he retired from the university in 1992.

He won a number of awards and distinctions during his career, but he is best known on campus for three major achievements: He was instrumental in setting the standards for teaching and research that are still followed today, said Maria Linder, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. In addition, she noted how Montana was instrumental in the design and oversight of Dan Black Hall and the development, along with university computer technician Jeffrey Buell, of the computer program Organic Reaction Mechanisms.

The program, inspired by Montana’s drive to improve the educational experience of his students, animated dozens of chemical reaction mechanisms and was a teaching aid that could be used in computer laboratories and on students’ own computers, a rarity at the time of its development. It was meant to be particularly useful to students who had trouble visualizing chemical reactions.

Buell and Montana began developing the program in the 1980s and received National Science Foundation grants for the effort. In 1992, the program won the prestigious national Software and Curriculum Innovation Award from EDUCOM, then a nonprofit consortium of 650 colleges and universities devoted to information exchanges on computing in higher education.

In 2006, Organic Reaction Mechanisms won Montana the MERLOT Award for outstanding education software. Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching — better known simply as MERLOT— is a California State University-administered program for faculty development and instructional technology that now has international participation.

“Dr. Montana was truly a loyal and giving member of the Cal State Fullerton community. He loved his students and was an exemplary professor,” said Steve Murray, dean of the CSUF College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “He appreciated the value of research and used his influence to ensure that his department hired productive scholars. Andy always set the bar high for himself and for others and in so many ways helped establish a culture of excellence in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at CSU Fullerton. He will be sorely missed.”

Montana, the academic, was known as an outstanding educator and innovator, but Montana, the person, made an impression, as well, said Linder, who echoed the sentiments of many at the university who knew him: “He had a wonderful sense of humor that brought cheer into a room just because he’d entered.”

Montana came to Fullerton as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1963, just four years after the first classes were held at what was then known as Orange County State College. Two years later, he became chair of the Chemistry Department. He served as chair through 1971, returning as interim chair in 1977-1978. He became a full professor in 1970.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Seattle Pacific College in 1951 and his doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Washington in 1957. Before joining the Fullerton faculty, he taught at the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii, where he was an assistant professor from 1961-63.

Besides his wife, Kay, Montana is survived by son, Stephen; grandchildren, Shayne and Seth; and sisters, Florence Harrison and Delores Meyer.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a fund in Montana’s name to aid undergraduate students in purchasing books. Checks can be made out to the Andy Montana Book Fund and sent to the Andy Montana Book Fund, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry/MH-582K, Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92831-3599.

Condolences may be sent to the Montana family at 9420 190th Pl. SW, Edmunds, WA 98020-2370.


Media Contacts:

Maria Linder, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 657-278-2472 or
Russ L. Hudson, Public Affairs, 657-278-4007 or

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