Press Release


May 14, 2015
Contact Information:
Missy Kline
Content Manager – Communications and Marketing

Dennis Defa, Chief Human Resources Officer at Montana State University, Receives CUPA-HR’s Distinguished Service Award

Dennis Defa, head of human resources at Montana State University, has received the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) 2015 Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to a CUPA-HR member who has provided outstanding service to the association through constituent activities, such as service in governance or leadership roles, or through professional development contributions in support of the association. Thanks to the generous support of Kronos, CUPA-HR is pleased to offer a $2,000 contribution to Montana State University’s endowment or a scholarship fund of Defa’s choice.

Defa has served in several leadership roles in CUPA-HR, including a term as chair of the former Northwest Region board of directors and as a representative on the association’s national board of directors, and was instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition when the CUPA-HR Northwest Region merged with the Southwest Region to become the Western Region in 2008. In addition to his service to CUPA-HR, Defa has strongly encouraged his staff to become involved with the association, providing support for them to attend conferences, serve on chapter and regional boards, and conduct conference sessions and webinars.

“Dennis is constantly inspiring his staff to participate in CUPA-HR and to utilize the association to learn from others and to share their expertise,” says MSU Vice President for Administration and Finance Terry Leist, who nominated Defa for the award. “His positive and affirming approach has made it possible for a number of very talented individuals to lend their skills and their time to CUPA-HR at various levels.”


CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving more than 18,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 1,900 member organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

CUPA-HR’s annual Higher Education Human Resource Awards honor excellence in higher education human resources and recognize service and commitment to CUPA-HR and innovation in the profession.