Distinguished Alumni Award 2008: Garry South ’76, Bachelor of Arts History and Political Science

“Other than my parents and my faith, my time at the University of Montana was the most important formative influence in my entire life. If my federally insured student-loan eligibility hadn’t expired, I would probably still be there! For a kid from Miles City and an uneducated family, the University was an excellent launching pad into the larger world. I left with increased personal confidence, a keen intellectual curiosity and an eagerness to excel and succeed. One couldn’t ask for more than that from a college education.”

Named “one of the top political strategists in the Democratic Party,” Garry is a frequent guest commentator on NPR and a regular contributor of opinion pieces to the Politico, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Asian Week, Capitol Weekly and the California Majority Report blog. For the past 36 years Garry has managed or played leading roles in campaigns for President, U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Legislature, County Executive, County Supervisor, Mayor and City Council. In 1998, he was unanimously named “Campaign Manager of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants for directing the come-from-behind victory of California Gov. Gray Davis. During his years at UM Garry served as president of ASUM, as a student member of the Blue-Ribbon Commission on Post-Secondary Education, as a member of Silent Sentinel and Phi Alpha Theta and as Feature Editor and Guest Columnist for the Kaimin.

Garry lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife, Christine Wei-li Lee, and their 2-year-old son, James Ru-Shiao Lee-South.