Group of people standing in fall leavesThe School of Journalism faculty and staff assemble in front of Don Anderson Hall in 2018.

Read more about the staff and faculty:


Denise.jpgDenise Dowling, Interim Dean

Phone: (406) 243-4143

Dean Denise Dowling began teaching at the School of Journalism in 2000. She served as chairwoman of the school’s Radio-TV Department and as the interim dean from 2012-2014.

She teaches courses in journalism ethics, television writing and producing, and radio reporting. She launched the award-winning student radio program, “Footbridge Forum,” a call-in show that features debate on key issues and a search for solutions.

She came to the school after 20 years in the TV news, first at KPAX-TV while an undergrad at UM.  She moved on to stations in Montana, Colorado and Washington, working as a director, technical director, producer, executive producer and managing editor. 

She spent 17 years working in Spokane, working at both the ABC and NBC affiliates. She won a number of Emmy Awards and Edward R. Murrow awards as part of teams that covered a firestorm, flooding, an ice storm and the arrest of a serial killer. 

Dowling earned her bachelor’s degree in radio-television from the University of Montana and a master’s in learning and technology. In 2013 Dowling was awarded the Tom Boone Town and Gown award for fostering deeper understanding between Missoula and UM. She serves on the Board of Governors for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences-Northwest Chapter. In 2010 she was awarded the Broadcast Education Association Best of Festival Award and the Broadcast Education Association Radio Hard News Best of Competition. 

She describes herself an amateur tennis player that inadvertently qualified for a regional USTA competition in 2012. She is married to Chris Johnson and has two children.


Jule.jpgJule Banville, Assistant Professor

Office: DAH 427
Phone: (406) 243-2237

Associate Professor Jule Banville began teaching at the School of Journalism in 2009 as an adjunct professor before joining the full-time faculty in the fall of 2011. She teaches basic and advanced courses, including elements of news writing, feature writing, opinion writing and advanced audio.

Before she began teaching, Jule worked for newspapers, public radio and ran the editorial for a website covering the Rocky Mountain West. Before moving to Missoula, she was the assistant managing editor at Washington City Paper, the alternative newsweekly serving the District of Columbia. She was a daily news reporter at the Erie Times-News in Erie, PA, for a decade. She’s published several articles about the news business for She also worked as a radio producer for WNYC, the New York NPR station, as part of the original staff that launched “The Next Big Thing.” She continued work in radio as independent producer for various national radio shows. 

In 2015, she launched the podcast, Last Best Stories, which consists of sound-rich features only mostly unique to Montana.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in political journalism from Mercyhurst University in Erie and her master’s in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in NYC.

At UM, she serves on the Faculty Senate and as the faculty adviser to the Montana Kaimin, UM's independent student newspaper and website. She also helps run the statewide high-school journalism contest. Jule is married to fellow faculty member Lee Banville. They have two girls. 


Lee.jpgLee Banville, Professor

Office: DAH 406
Phone: (406) 243-2577
Curriculum Vitae: View/Download CV

Associate Professor Lee Banville joined the University of Montana faculty in 2009 after 13 years at PBS NewsHour, where he was editor-in-chief of the Online NewsHour.

With a background in web and digital reporting and social media, Lee teaches courses that include the digital and web reporting, audience engagement, and the school’s introductory media history and literacy course. He also teaches media law, with a focus on access and open meeting laws and co-teaches election reporting every two years. 

He received his bachelor of arts in English and government from the College of William & Mary and earned his master’s degree in political science from the University of Montana. Before joining the PBS NewsHour, Lee worked briefly in public relations and as a stringer at the Virginian-Pilot. He is the author of "Debating Our Destiny: Presidential Debate Moments that Shaped History," written for MacNeil/Lehrer Productions in 2012 and updated in 2013.  He also authored a two-volume encyclopedia, "Covering American Politics in the 21st Century: An Encyclopedia of News Media Titans, Trends, and Controversies," that was published in January 2017 by ABC-CLIO. 

Banville described himself as “a poor fly fisherman, mediocre curler and for some reason the teacher of most of the large classes the School of Journalism offers.” He is married to faculty member Jule Banville, and they have two girls.


Jason.jpgJason Begay, Assistant Professor

Office: DAH 410
Phone: (406) 243-2191
Office Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-noon
Curriculum Vitae: View/Download CV

Assistant Professor Jason Begay joined the faculty in 2010 after spending six years as a full-time reporter for The Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz.

He teaches courses in reporting and diversity and co-teaches the school’s award-winning Native News Project, which produces an annual publication and website that covers issues facing Montana tribal communities. He has served on the board of directors for the Native American Journalists Association as its vice president, treasurer and president.

Jason is a 2002 graduate of the School of Journalism. He won a prestigious New York Times internship, and worked as a reporter for Portland’s Oregonian before returning to his home, the Navajo reservation on the Arizona-New Mexico border, to work for The Navjao Times.

Jason grew up in Gallup, N.M., and interned for the Times at age 19. As a journalism student at UM, he interned at newspapers in Duluth, Minn., and Oakland, Calif.

He earned a Masters in Business Administration in 2015.


Joe.jpgJoe Eaton, Assistant Professor

Office: DAH 409

Assistant Professor Joe Eaton joined the school’s faculty in the fall of 2013. He is a freelance writer for magazines and websites including National Geographic, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Wired.

Eaton teaches courses in public affairs reporting, investigative reporting and editing.

Before joining the faculty, he worked as an investigative reporter at the Washington, D.C.- based Center for Public Integrity. He has also been a reporter at the Roanoke Times in Virginia and Washington City Paper.

Eaton graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in English  and earned his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

In his spare time he enjoys being with his wife and young son and tinkering with old sports cars.


RayF.jpgRay Fanning, Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Affairs

Office: DAH 405
Phone: (406) 243-4747

Associate Professor Ray Fanning joined the University of Montana faculty in 2007 after a career in broadcast news and a stint teaching broadcast journalism courses at Columbia College Chicago.

Fanning teaches a variety of broadcast journalism courses as well as the curriculum in the lower division core, including online courses.

Fanning worked for almost 20 years in local broadcast news, most recently as a special project manager at KGW in Portland, Ore. He’s also worked for TV stations in Salt Lake City; Spokane, Wash., and Boise, Idaho. A native of Idaho Falls, Fanning received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho, master of fine arts from Brandeis University and master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. 

His series of radio reports for Montana Public Radio on wrongful convictions in Montana won a international ‘Best of Festival-News’ award from the Broadcast Education Association, a regional Edward R. Murrow award from the Radio- Television Digital News Association and a Non-Commercial Radio Program of the Year award from the Montana Broadcasters Association. In 2017, Fanning also reported and produced an hour-long documentary for Montana Public Radio called “Facing Race in Montana.”


Keith.jpgKeith Graham, Associate Professor

Office: Don Anderson Hall, room 430
Phone: (406) 243-2238

Associate Professor Keith Graham joined the faculty in 1998 after a distinguished career as a photojournalist and editor for a string of newspapers, including the Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury News and Roanoke Times. He teaches courses in photojournalism, publication design and freelancing strategies.

A Mississippi native, Graham earned a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt and a master’s in photojournalism from the University of Missouri. An internship at the Miami Herald led to a job covering such things as the Cuban boatlift, street riots, drug trials and the Miami Dolphins.

He then joined the San Jose Mercury News and spent his last two and a half years there as a picture editor and photographer. His assignments included national political conventions, the World Series and the Super Bowl.

From there he traveled to Virginia’s Roanoke Times, where he eventually became director of photography.

Keith has four sons, and enjoys running, triathlons, gardening, reading and sports of all kinds. His priorities, he says, are his love for Christ, his family and teaching.

He is currently working on a multimedia documentary about Montana’s surviving one-room schools.


Jeremy.jpgJeremy Lurgio, Associate Professor

Phone: (406) 243-2601

Associate Professor Jeremy Lurgio began teaching photojournalism and multimedia classes at the School of Journalism in 2007. But he is best known as a co-teacher of the school’s award-winning Native News Project.

Before joining the School of Journalism, Jeremy worked as a photographer and photo editor at community newspapers including the Ravalli Republic. He also worked as a freelancer, doing a variety of editorial and commercial photography.

His work has appeared in newspapers and magazines that include the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, High Country News, National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, Northwest Fly Fishing, and the Drake. He continues to be a regular contributor to the Big Sky Journal and Montana Magazine. Jeremy earned his bachelor’s degree in American studies from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Montana. His specialty is community-driven photojournalism, documentary storytelling and multimedia storytelling. He recently completed an award-winning documentary project about vanishing communities titled “Lost & Found Montana.” The work has been exhibited nationally.

In addition to his teaching at the school, Jeremy has also been an instructor at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography for nine years. 

In his free time, he enjoys backcountry skiing, mountain biking, cyclocross, fly fishing and exploring the wilds of Montana with his wife, Caroline, two young children and their dog, Atlas.


Dennis.jpgDennis Swibold, Professor

Office: DAH 413
Phone: (406) 243-2230

Professor Dennis Swibold began teaching at UM in 1989 and joined the School of Journalism’s permanent faculty two years later. 

He teaches courses in reporting, editing, ethics and election coverage and helps to oversee such efforts as the school's legislative coverage and alumni magazine. 

Before teaching, Dennis was a newspaper reporter Arizona and Montana. He was the editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle before coming to the university, and he later worked summers as a copy editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Salt Lake Tribune. 

He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona in 1979 and a master’s in journalism from UM in 1991. Dennis is the author of "Copper Chorus: Mining, Politics and the Montana Press, 1889-1959," a history of industrial domination of Montana newspapers. The work won the Western Writers of America’s 2007 award for best work of contemporary nonfiction. He continues to research and report on public affairs issues and lead conversations about the changing face of journalism. In 2014, he taught a graduate course in American political journalism at Shanghai International Studies University. 

He has served on the boards of the Montana Innocence Project and the Montana Newspaper Association. He has been an adviser to Project Vote Smart and to efforts by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Montana Historical Society’s efforts to digitize American newspapers of historical value. 

He and his wife, Julie, have an adult son, Colton. Outside of the classroom, Dennis enjoys history, fly-fishing and playing his beat-up Fender Telecaster. 


Kevin.jpgKevin Tompkins, Visiting Assistant Professor

Office: DAH 402
Phone: 406.243.4088
Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday: 11:30am - 1:30pm
Curriculum Vitae: View/Download CV

Kevin Tompkins joins UM’s School of Journalism to teach Intermediate Videography/Editing (JRNL 350) and Intermediate Television Directing (JRNL 351).

Tompkins just finished a 30-year career as an award winning director/producer at KREM-TV in Spokane, WA. Before that, he worked for 4 years at KRDO-TV in his hometown of Colorado Springs, CO. Kevin graduated from the University of Colorado in 1982, with a B.A. in Communications (Radio-TV-Film). 


Nadia.jpgNadia White, Director, Master's Program in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism

Office: DAH 408
Phone: (406) 243-2227

Associate Professor Nadia White joined the faculty in 2006 after a career in newspaper journalism that included work throughout the West and in Washington, D.C.

She specializes in environmental and public affairs journalism, and teaches courses in science journalism, global current events and reporting. She is the director of UM's master's program in environmental science and natural resource journalism.

Nadia graduated from Bates College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a concentration in Asian literature. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Before coming to UM, Nadia reported for Maine’s Lewiston Sun, Minnesota’s Stillwater Gazette and the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo. She was a reporter and editor at the Casper Star-Tribune in Wyoming and in the paper’s Washington, D.C., bureau.

Nadia has received several awards for her reporting and writing, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award of Excellence for work on brucellosis in central Asia; the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Best Columnist of the Year Award; and several Associated Press Public Service awards.

She received a Ted Scripps Fellowship in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado in 2004-05 and a World Affairs Fellowship from the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., in 2003.


Adjunct and Visiting Faculty

Courtney.jpgCourtney Cowgill, Adjunct Instructor and Director of Media and Engagement

Phone: 406-531-4794

Courtney Lowery Cowgill is an editor, writer, teacher and farmer who began teaching at the university in 2006 when she co-taught the Rural News Network project. Now, Cowgill specializes in teaching online courses (feature writing and elements of news writing) at the School of Journalism and she oversees the Legislative and Community News Services, which provide daily and weekly coverage to scores of news publications and broadcasters across the state during the biennial Montana legislative sessions. From 2005 – 2009 she co-founded and was editor in chief of the award-winning online startup news magazine New West, which has since been sold and shuttered. She then went on to serve as the managing editor of PBS MediaShift, a national publication that covers media and technology. She has also been a reporter for the Associated Press, Lee Newspapers (covering the Montana Legislature) and a reporting intern at The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Great Falls Tribune

Cowgill received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana.   

In addition to her work at UM, she runs a small farm and farm-to-loaf sourdough bakery with her husband Jacob in central Montana. She also writes for various publications about agriculture and about media.

Adjunct professor Jeff GailusJeff Gailus, Adjunct Instructor

Phone: 406-243-4001

Jeff Gailus has covered environmental issues and natural resource management in Canada, the United States and Europe for more than 20 years. Although he once worked as a reporter for weekly newspapers in Hungary and Alberta, most of his career has focused on long-form magazine writing and public affairs and investigative journalism, which have earned him awards in both Canada and the U.S.

He earned an M.S. in environmental studies and an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from the University of Montana, where he earned a Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship and a Bertha Morton Scholarship. Writing grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts allowed him time to publish his first book, "The Grizzly Manifesto," in 2011, which was a finalist for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award. He enjoys teaching as much as he does writing, and has taught ecology, wildlife management and creative writing both in the classroom and in the field. He is currently working on a memoir and editing a collection of environmental writing from the Yellowstone to Yukon ecoregion.

Man standing in large landscapeChris Johns, T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, Spring 2019

Chris Johns will serve at the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor for spring of 2019. Johns was editor-in-chief of National Geographic from 2005-14. He began his National Geographic career in 1995 as a photographer and had a variety of positions at the magazine before he became its editor. While he was editor, the magazine won 23 National Magazine Awards, and in 2008 he was named magazine editor of the year.

Subsequent to that job, he was chief content officer and director of the Centers of Excellence for National Geographic Media and now serves as program leader for National Geographic Society’s “Beyond Yellowstone” program, an assignment that will conclude at the end of this year. Johns will teach a course in conservation journalism, examining the powerful impact visual storytelling has had in the conservation movement.

Dark-haired woman in glasses.

Leah Sotille, T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, Fall, 2019

Leah Sottile will be the the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor for fall semester 2019, teaching a course in narrative writing and the business of freelance journalism.

Leah is a freelance journalist whose features, profiles, investigations and essays have been featured by the Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, Playboy, California Sunday Magazine, Outside, The Atlantic, Vice and several others. She is the host and reporter of the National Magazine Award-nominated and Apple Top 10 podcast Bundyville, made in collaboration with Longreads and Oregon Public Broadcasting. 

She started her career at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, in Spokane, Washington, where she served as Arts Editor and Music Editor, and co-founded the music festival, Volume. Her work at the Inlander garnered multiple regional and national awards, including the Washington State Mental Health Reporting Award.

She is a graduate of Gonzaga University. 

She a one-time comic strip author, an avid heavy metal fan, obsessive vinyl record collector, and the owner of two Boston Terriers and one husband, Joe, who is also obsessed with journalism and dogs and heavy metal. 


JohnTwiggs.jpgJohn Twiggs, Adjunct Instructor

Office: COR 153
Phone: (406) 243-4640
Adjunct Professor John Twiggs began teaching at the University of Montana in 1994 and joined Montana PBS in 1996. Twiggs is currently the television producer at Montana PBS and prior to was a sports reporter/anchor for eight years throughout Indiana, Montana and New Mexico.  Twiggs graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast communications and earned his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Montana.  

His expertise lies in producing a variety of television programs from historical documentaries to political programs and children’s education shows. Which involves research, writing, photography, editing and post-production to get the program distributed to the public. The programs have earned national awards such as CINE Golden Eagle, Parents Choice Foundation and also received six regional Emmy awards. 


Photo of Anne BaileyAnne Bailey, Founding Director of the Montana Media Lab

Phone: (406) 243-4401

Anne Bailey, a former professor and graduate of the school, is the founding director of the Montana Media Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory for journalists and non-journalists alike to learn and experiment with cutting-edge multimedia storytelling skills. Bailey graduated from the School of Journalism master’s program in 2008. She has taught and practiced journalism all over the world: from a smartphone video course for Libyans in Rome to a multimedia journalism project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has taught courses at the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, and served as the Distinguished Anthony T. Pollner Professor at the UM School of Journalism in the spring of 2017. She also has filed regularly for the PRI news program “The World.”


JoeBrown.jpgJoe Brown, Broadcast Engineer

Office: DAH 101B

Joe Brown has been at the University since 1996 and joined the School of Journalism staff in August 2013.  He will be working in a share position with the broadcast media center. 

Brown has an electronics degree from San Francisco City College. For the past 35 years he has been a concert soundman and musician for live and recorded sound for many big names in the industry.  He has also been working as a broadcast engineer for KUFM radio and TV since he has been in Missoula. Brown did the sound for the Grammy Award winning Say Yes to Running with Bill Harley.

Cameron.jpgCameron Bucheit, Office Manager

Office: DAH 201
Phone: (406) 243-4001
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cameron Bucheit joined the Journalism Staff as the Office Manager in December 2014. 

Prior to this Cameron was a full time student and held a student worker position at the School of Business Administration.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in communication studies from the University of Montana in December 2014.  She has begun work on a masters degree in counseling.

Cameron has lived in Montana for most of her life.  She currently resides in Missoula, and grew up in Florence.  In her free time she enjoys going on long walks and hikes, playing fetch with her dog Barney, lifting weights, and spending time with her friends and family.

Gita.jpgGita Saedi Kiely, Director of Development

Phone: (406) 243-5354

Kiely is the Development Director of the UM School of Journalism and an adjunct lecturer for the School of Media Arts. She served as the executive director and various director roles of the Big Sky Film Institute & Big Sky Documentary Film Festival from 2012 - 2016. She has produced and edited several critically acclaimed documentary films, including the 2004 PBS series The New Americans. She was an adjunct lecturer for the School of Journalism from 2007-2012 and earned her B.A. in speech and communications with a minor in cinema studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Kiely lives in Missoula with her husband and two children.


Paul.jpgPaul Wheeler, Director of IT

Office: DAH 010 & LAW 122A
Phone: 406-243-4566 & 406-243-5584

Paul Wheeler has worked with the School of Journalism since 2015 and Alexander Blewett III School of Law since fall of 2017. He is working on his M.F.A. in media arts.

In 2009, Paul received his B.A. in communications with an emphasis in digital media/film from Vanguard University. While in Southern California, he had the privilege to work with several film studios. 

Paul has lived in Montana for most of his life. In his free time, he enjoys playing Pathfinder, going for a swim, snowboarding, and spending time with friends and family.

Kathleen.jpgKathleen Whetzel, Assistant to the Dean

Office: DAH203

Kathleen Whetzel joined the School of Journalism staff in January 2003. Her background includes legal secretarial work in Spokane and Missoula for over 16 years. Additionally, she was the Assistant Clerk for the Arlee School District for 2 1/2 years.

Whetzel graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Business and earned her Master's in Public Administration at UM in 2016.

Whetzel and her husband Matt have two adult sons and have resided north of Arlee for over 30 years. She enjoys running and bike riding throughout the area.