President of Rocky Mountain College Bob Wilmouth has an atypical personality compared to what you would expect when looking at a president of a college. You can see him on campus in a suit or in sweats and flip flops; it depends on the occasion. Regardless of his choice of wardrobe, he carries himself with great enthusiasm and has the ability to brighten anyone’s day.
Wilmouth is originally from Illinois. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame and got his medical degree at the University of Illinois. He moved to Billings in 1991 and worked at the Billings Clinic as a cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgeon until 2004. Wilmouth served as the medical director and chief of cardiac services in his time at the Billings Clinic. He holds certifications from the American College of Surgeons, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Heart Association, the American Board of Surgery, and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.
He joined Rocky Mountain College in June 2008 as the program director for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program. Wilmouth was named President of RMC in April 2013.
“I didn’t initially want to take up the position of President of the College” said Wilmouth. “I was a heart surgeon in [Billings] and became ill. I had to stop practice, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I volunteered across the country working for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) a non-profit out of Boston. I did that for two years and I got approached by the Board here at Rocky to run the Physician Assistant program.”
“After five years they approached me again about becoming president of the college,” Wilmouth continued. “I told them that I didn’t know if I was the guy. I was asked to do it at the right place and the right time. But I like the challenge and I like the students here. And it’s a noble cause, so I keep reminding myself ‘this is all about the students,’ and that’s what keeps me going. So I kind of morphed into it.”
Ever since he took the position, many changes have come over the years for RMC. Facilities were upgraded, including Herb Klindt Field and the stadium, the new science building, and the Fortin Center where renovations are just beginning.
“We are in evolution,” said Wilmouth. “I’m always looking to get things done with a sense of urgency, and I just have to remember ‘you gotta play the long game.’ As I sit here right now, I’m very pleased with our accomplishments. I never doubted it. And it’s not just me. My job is to set a direction with the vision; everybody else does the execution. I have the easy job, I can think into the future. I’m in a position that allows me to do that, and it’s kind of fun actually. But what is on my mind now is that we got to keep going. There is a whole vision for how we are going to look in five or ten years. I’m still anxious about continuing the momentum and not getting immobilized.”
Aside from the new look to the campus, RMC has also expanded its academic offerings with the recent accreditation of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program, the institution’s first doctorate program.
“To give you the big picture,” said Wilmouth, “we want to fund the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program fully, we want to move the PA program into the new building eventually, we want to fund the second phase of the science building, finish the football field, and we got to do something with Fortin. Those are the projects on my mind. I would like to see a fine arts building here down the road, and a new administration building where everything is housed under one roof. And I would like to see us add a sport or two. That is the direction we want to go in, and that lays it out here and there.”
Wilmouth eventually wants to see the college as an “anchor institution” in the community of Billings. Keeping in mind that the main purpose of RMC is to educate. The most important thing that happens on campus is what happens in the classroom.
“My favorite part of this job is the students and I love interacting with them on a daily basis,” said Wilmouth.“I don’t know if it’s in the water, or what it is, but our students carry themselves exceptionally well here. That will always be the number one thing. But I also enjoy the strategizing of our evolution. And I like being a small part of something that gets better. That is what gives me drive, that is what makes me feel good.”
As the end of the semester draws near, the class of 2018 will be graduating from one part of the real world to another. Wilmouth’s message to outgoing students is this: “There is one thing that you own as a student that nobody else has, and that is your own integrity. And I always say to students ‘don’t ever give that away,’ ever. It is yours. And it can be hard sometimes. Ninety percent of life is showing up. But the key to succeeding in every aspect of your life is making good decisions. You make good decisions, everything will fall into place. And I believe this place educates you to do that.”
The main vision for Rocky Mountain College is to make it an institution that elevates the human condition for students. Wilmouth looks to make it a true anchor institution that “floats all boats” in the Billings community. One that is looked to as a leader, and that works collaboratively and collectively with everyone else.