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RIIC longest-serving staff member retires after 32 years of service

The longest-serving staff member of the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities recently retired after 32 years of service. We wanted to take advantage of Joyce’s institutional knowledge. In her own words, we asked her to record her memories of the early days.

I started at the Montana University Affiliated Program Satellite in October 1978 in Helena (Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education) and was the second staff to be hired, after the Director. 

After touring the 3 state’s universities, Missoula was selected to be home for the Rural Institute.  In June 1979, the four-member staff moved to Missoula and shared a rental house near the university. 


One of my fondest memories is meeting with Ray Murray – he said he liked me because I was the only one without a beard.

The first Rural Institute grant was $86,000. I kept the paperwork for posterity.

The first location of the RIIC on campus was a corner office in Main Hall, and the Pigeon Palace (upstairs in Main Hall).  It was called Pigeon Palace because it got so hot the windows had to be open at night allowing the pigeon’s easy access. 

In July of 1983, the Rural Institute moved from Main Hall to the top floor of the Social Science building (formerly the University’s library). It was as hot as Main Hall, but, fortunately, it didn’t include any pigeons.

Next, RIIC relocated to the old bowling alley in the University Center where the bank, post office and a hair salon are now. When it was RIIC’s office there were pin setters, a polished wooden floor, and insulation on the walls.  Unlike previous locations, it was so cold that space heaters had to be used under the desks.  The giant fig tree in the UC atrium was a mere yard tall.

With the remodel of the University Center, RIIC moved to its current location, Corbin Hall.  RIIC occupied most of the lower level dorm rooms which included an office pool in the former conference room which had previously been a laundry room.  The RIIC staff grew immensely over the years and now has offices on the second level as well.

Financial records were kept with ledger paper, pencils, and adding machines – the first “spreadsheets” were in the Lotus fashion.  That was before Quattro Pro and Excel.  The College and University Financial System (CUFS) was the university’s financial system.  BANNER, in its many forms, followed CUFS. 

I remember taking a word processing class in order to more efficiently type grant proposals.  Prior to word processing, proposals used to be typed on electric typewriters and if someone made a correction or edited a paragraph, the entire document had to be retyped.  Liquid paper was not invented yet and carbon paper and a mimeograph machine were used to make multiple copies of documents.

That was just the beginning.  Things sure have come a long way….in all ways.  RIIC has seen five directors and dozens of staff come and go.  Change is good and inevitable and the Rural Institute will keep changing through the years.  From being the Montana University Affiliated Program Satellite in 1978 to whatever name the future brings… It’s been the time of my life.  I wish all of you the very best.

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