MISSOULA – Imagine a place where teachers, legislators, researchers and students can gather to be inspired and equipped – a hub that exists to cast a new vision for education and encourage solutions nationwide.
Imagine if that place was located right here in Montana.
The University of Montana’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences has imagined that place. And now, thanks to a $5 million gift from the Alice Lee Lund Charitable Trust, the college will expand its facilities to include a public, state-of-the-art auditorium – the largest classroom and presentation venue at UM.
It all started with Alice “Ali” Lee Lund, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at UM before launching her career as a teacher. Born and raised in North Dakota, Ali grew to care deeply about Missoula during her time as a student. Before her passing in 2001, she established a charitable trust and named her alma mater as one of the specific organizations to benefit from her generosity. Upon her death, Ali’s brother, Wes Moholt, took over management of the trust, working diligently to honor his late sister’s wishes.
“As the original trustee, Wes positioned the trust for its current success,” said Ron Nelson, attorney at the Church, Harris, Johnson & Williams, P.C. law firm, which now manages the Alice Lee Lund Charitable Trust. “It was because of his foresight and diligence that the trust has grown to a level that will allow it to benefit organizations throughout our region, and honor Ali’s vision for many years.”
The Lund Trust’s investment will fund the Ali Lund Instructional (ALI) Auditorium, a technologically advanced, 500-seat hall fully equipped to promote 21st century learning. As a key component of the education college’s strategic priorities and developing plan for expansion, the ALI Auditorium will serve as a one-of-a-kind classroom, conference and presentation space that will be unrivaled in the region.
Since the completion of the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center in 2009, the college has experienced steady growth throughout its programs. With that growth came unprecedented reach, extending advanced research and tools developed in Missoula to educators across the state and, eventually, the nation.
The ALI Auditorium will contribute to that reach by providing a dynamic, stimulating environment for numerous statewide, national and international seminars, conferences and lectures. Additionally, it will be open to departments across UM’s campus and local community groups, making it a valuable addition to the region as a whole.
“The ALI Auditorium is a vital part of our vision for the future,” said Roberta Evans, dean of UM’s education college. “Thanks to its namesake, the ALI Auditorium will serve as a catalyst for bringing the rest of the world to UM, and will allow the expertise and innovation fostered here to extend across the globe.”