Sep 12 2014

GIFT FROM MISSOULA COUPLE LAUNCHES GIFTED EDUCATION PROGRAM AT UM

Gifted education in Montana received a boost on Friday. Missoula residents Suzanne and Dave Peterson announced their $1.5 million commitment to the University of Montana’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. Their generous gift will create the Suzanne and Dave Peterson Distinguished Professor of Gifted Education.

“We are incredibly thankful for this gift and the impact it will have on the lives of children everywhere,” said Roberta Evans, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences. “For years Suzanne has been a leader for the College of Education and Human Sciences, as well as the University of Montana, and this momentous gift memorializes the commitment she and Dave share to improve education across our state, region and nation.”

The new faculty member will specialize in gifted education, an area of growing interest nationwide that has received less funding and attention than other kinds of special education. With a specialist in this discipline, UM will become the only university in the Northern Rockies to offer a comprehensive education in the field of personalized learning.

In addition to training tomorrow’s educators, the college will contribute to ongoing research into how and why gifted children are best motivated to succeed.

“It is exciting to think that our gift has the potential to touch so many lives,” Suzanne said. “We have always been supporters of education, and believe that every child deserves the opportunity to maximize their learning potential. If they have the opportunity to be challenged and engaged in the classroom because teachers have the training they need, the possibilities for educational success will be endless.”

The Petersons, both UM alumni, owned and operated Quality Supply until 2011. Dave Peterson’s father started the business in 1965, with the couple formally taking the reins in 1984. When they retired in 2011, Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply purchased the Petersons’ four Quality Supply stores located in Missoula, Hamilton, Dillon and Butte.

The gift was announced at a reception at UM’s Phyllis J. Washington Education Center on Sept. 12. The ceremony celebrated the Petersons and the impact of private giving at UM. Speakers included Suzanne and Dave Peterson, Dean Evans and President Royce Engstrom.

The University of Montana Foundation works with generous alumni and friends to raise support for University programs, promote student success and fund prominent faculty positions. The fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, was a record year for UM, with private support to the University of Montana totaling $53.7 million.

For more information, call Peter Knox, communications and outreach manager in UM’s College of Education and Human Sciences, at 406-243-4911 or email peter.knox@mso.umt.edu.