University of Montana Surges Past $400 Million Campaign Fundraising Goal

October 11, 2019

The new wing of the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education enhances student learning through facilities such as observation rooms like this one.MISSOULA – When the University of Montana Foundation publicly launched the most ambitious fundraising campaign in UM history, it announced a goal of inspiring $400 million in philanthropic giving through 2020 to benefit every UM student, college, school and program. That target has been exceeded – nearly a year before the campaign concludes.  

The comprehensive, seven-year initiative known as “Campaign Montana – Think Big. Be Bold.” began in July 2013 and launched publicly in October 2018. In the past year, generous donors have provided over $74.8 million in support, pushing the late-September campaign total past the launch goal to $401.3 million.

With this significant philanthropic momentum and the private support goal for several priority opportunities yet to be met, the UM Foundation will continue to partner with alumni and friends to advance these priority opportunities through the campaign’s conclusion next summer.

Donor gifts allow programs like UM’s top-ranked Wildlife Biology program to recruit and retain the brightest students. “I am deeply grateful for the extraordinary generosity of our alumni and friends who have buoyed this institution with their engagement, insights and giving,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “Their support of and steadfast belief in the University of Montana will continue to impact our campus community in immeasurable ways, and our students will benefit long into the future.”

Donors have transformed thousands of lives through Campaign Montana. Their philanthropic gifts have created 15 new endowed faculty positions that help UM recruit and retain top faculty, helped renovate or construct 10 facilities to enrich learning environments, and provided access to higher education by giving $115 million for scholarships and other student support. The campaign has inspired donations to all colleges and schools, as well as Grizzly Athletics, the Flathead Lake Biological Station, the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, and other programs.

The Montana Media Lab, which works to enhance digital storytelling and news literacy across the state, is supported by donor gifts.  Gifts of all sizes have made a difference. More than 32,000 donors have given to the campaign, with nearly 37,000 gifts under $100 counting toward the overall goal. During Campaign Montana over 12,000 first-time UM donors have pledged their support to the University.

At its annual dinner for members of the President’s Club giving society on Oct. 3, the UM Foundation announced more than $7 million in gifts.

A $5 million gift from the Terry and Patt Payne Family will enable Montana Museum of Art and Culture to bring its vast collection of thousands of compelling works of art from campus storage into public view and engagement.

Dennis and Gretchen Eck have pledged $1.25 million to support the S.E.A. Change Initiative for UM Students, a new program that prepares women across disciplines to become next-generation leaders whose contributions will influence broad societal change.

University of Montana alumni Sam and Julie Baldridge have donated $1 million to help fund an expansion of UM’s Clinical Psychology Center, allowing it to serve up to four times more Western Montana residents in Meredith Reynolds, a clinical psychology doctoral student, works with a patient at the Clinical Psychology Center. UM plans to renovate the center with a $1 million gift.  need of mental health care.

Alumni Mark and Cheryl Burnham, co-chairs of Campaign Montana’s public phase, have articulated a call to action for UM supporters as the campaign enters its final year: Consider how you want to make an impact at UM and take action as we reach for greatness.

 “We have a golden opportunity to redefine success,” said Mark Burnham, “but it will take each one of us grabbing the part of the dream that resonates with us personally and giving to make it a reality. We must commit to 110 percent for our students and our University.”

With student success as a top strategic priority, Campaign Montana is a vital channel of support right now. Private support can provide the critical resources required to further develop and enhance the services and resources students need to persist and succeed, including connecting every student with both a professional academic adviser and faculty mentor on their structured pathway to lifelong achievement.

One example of recent donor support in this area comes from alumnus Joe Whittinghill and Blake Takamura, who provided a leadership gift to develop a Student Success Center in the College of Humanities & Sciences, where students receive one-stop professional support as they create personalized educational and career plans. Many similar giving opportunities like this one exist across the University.

Throughout the next year, UM colleges, schools and programs aim to enhance accessible, world-class programs, enrich dynamic learning environments and expand the boundaries of faculty-led research, experiential learning and mentoring with students.

Individuals, families, businesses and private foundations can connect with a range of opportunities to impact students and programs in their area of interest. These opportunities include augmenting traditional classroom learning with more access to field coursework, study abroad programs and internships. Privately supported undergraduate scholarships will provide students struggling with financial limitations with the assistance they need to excel at UM, while also enabling UM’s top-rated programs like Wildlife Biology to recruit the nation’s top students.

Donors may help provide an enriched preschool environment for students working and learning in the new wing of the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education or support the further development of the School of Journalism’s Montana Media Lab, which was established to build news literacy and knowledge in digital storytelling.

UM supporters interested in the field of health care are invited to explore ways they can help expand the reach of the Neural Injury Center to serve Montana veterans and their families or the student training programs that prepare graduates for rural medical careers. A complete overview of all campuswide priorities can be found at www.campaignmontana.org.

“This campaign is a public-private partnership that is shaping UM’s future before our very eyes,” said Cindy Williams, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. “Now is the time for us to be the best advocates we can be for all students as they navigate their educational journeys and become the next generation of leaders reaching for greatness.”

Campaign Montana is managed by the UM Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization that has inspired philanthropic support to enhance excellence and opportunity at UM since 1950. In June 2019, the UM Foundation earned an Educational Fundraising Award for Overall Performance from the Council to Support and Advance Education. The award recognizes “colleges and universities that show solid program growth, breadth in the base of support and other indications of a mature, well-maintained program.”

Visit www.campaignmontana.org or call the UM Foundation at 406-243-2593 to learn more and to find an unmet Campaign Montana priority that aligns with the impact you would like to make in the world.

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Contact: Elizabeth Willy, director of communications, UM Foundation, 406-243-5320, elizabeth.willy@supportum.org.