MISSOULA Donors stepped up to support the University of Montana in a big way this year, topping $50 million for the fourth year in a row. At the close of fiscal year 2017, private support totaled $84.5 million. The University’s largest-ever gift, from Bill and Carolyn Franke and their family, helped propel this record-breaking fundraising year.


“We are grateful for alumni and friends who recognize and champion the University’s impact on students, Montana and the world,” said Mary Olson, chair of the UM Foundation board of trustees.

Gifts came from individuals, foundations and corporations. Donors designated gifts to a variety of areas, including scholarships, faculty, programs, research and campus facilities.

Support for students has ensured more privately funded scholarships than ever before. Last fall, the foundation received a $4 million gift from The Haynes Foundation to continue the legacy of Jack and Isabel Haynes and provide scholarships to deserving Montana students. This spring, The ALSAM Foundation gave $1.25 million to support educational opportunities for Native American pharmacy students. These are just two of the hundreds of gifts, large and small, that were directed toward scholarships and fellowships. In academic year 2017-18, the Foundation is expected to distribute around 2,700 scholarships.

This year, private support for faculty was especially meaningful. Donors doubled the number of named chairs on campus – establishing one each in forest conservation, watershed hydrology, and history, and two in education – for a total of five new chairs. Privately funded, named chairs are one of the University’s most prestigious honors. Donor support allows the University to recruit and retain nationally acclaimed faculty by using the gift to augment the faculty member’s salary. The gift may also provide funds for professional development and research activities.

A gift from UM alumni Ian and Nancy Davidson created a new way to engage honors students: the Teaching, Research and Mentoring Fellows Program. The program brings postdoctoral fellows (recent graduates of Ph.D. programs) to campus for two years to teach honors seminars and involve students in hands-on research. The first two fellows arrive on campus this fall.

Other faculty positions supported by donors this year include the ATG Faculty Fellowship in Management Information Systems, the Knick Family Faculty Fellowship, the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professorship in Journalism and the Dr. David M. Emmons Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies. Faculty fellowships augment existing faculty lines, while the Pollner Professor and Emmons Scholar funds bring experts to campus for limited-term appointments.

Gifts for key campus facilities also made an impact, including a $5 million gift from the Alice Lee Lund Charitable Trust to build a state-of-the-art public auditorium at the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, $2.4 million from Dennis and Gretchen Eck for Liberal Arts Building renovations, and continued support from donors for the Missoula College building, the Larry and Dee Dee Gianchetta Student Success Center at the business school, and the Washington-Grizzly Champions Center.

The UM Foundation is a separate, nonprofit organization that raises and manages funds to support the University’s faculty, students, programs and facilities. The organization follows standards established by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education when reporting its fundraising figures. The independently audited financial statements for fiscal year 2017, which ran from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, will be available at SupportUM.org later this fall.

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