The Gift of Education

September 9, 2019

Paul and Betty Haack met as high schoolers in Billings, but it was at the University of Montana their story officially began. They wed after their sophomore year and took part-time jobs working as night-shift custodial staff in a Higgins Avenue medical clinic.

Paul and Betty Haack

“Paul did the floors and would shovel the walk,” Betty explained. “I did the cleaning and the washing and drying.”

Their hard work paid off after graduation, when Paul, a 1972 business administration alum, and Betty, who received her degree in home economics that same year, began a journey that would take them to Seattle, Chicago and back again over the course of their careers.

Starting out in Seattle, Paul began as a staff accountant with Deloitte, and Betty became a registered dietician at a local hospital. Betty earned her master’s degree at the University of Washington and retired after a few years to care for their new son, Mike. The family moved to Chicago in 2001, where Paul served as a senior partner with Deloitte. He was responsible for the firm’s services to aerospace and defense companies for many years before retiring in 2006.

Today the Haacks reside in Bellevue, Washington. Despite both time and distance, the University of Montana remains close to their hearts. One reason, they said, is the role UM has played in their lives and careers.

“It sounds intimidating to move to a big city and meet all kinds of people who’ve gone to schools you’ve only heard of, but it turns out Montana gave me a really great foundation to compete and succeed really anywhere,” Paul said, adding that taking classes taught by longtime UM accounting professor Jack Kempner is among his favorite UM memories.

“He taught a certain kind of discipline that carried over into other aspects of your life and certainly your business career.”

The Haacks’ fondness for UM led them to give back to the institution in a variety of ways. Their philanthropic contributions established undergraduate scholarships for Montana residents and created a faculty fellowship, which enhances the salary of an accounting professor and gives the College of Business a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining talented faculty.

Witnessing the impact of their gifts gave the Haacks the confidence to further their legacy by including support in their estate plan.

“Our gifts to UM have been used wisely so we feel anything given through our estate will be well used too,” Betty said.

Paul agreed, saying estate planning allowed them to provide for their family and also support the institution they love. 

“Each gift is a monetary and emotional decision and I think giving should make one feel good,” he said. “Montana does that.”

Paul Haack, 1972
Betty Haack, 1972