Celebrating 60 years of support for UM

This year marks 60 years since the University of Montana Foundation first set out in uncharted waters with a dozen trustees, $2,100 and one employee to raise money on behalf of the University. In the last six decades, the UM Foundation has grown to a 40-member volunteer board of trustees who oversee the management of more than $172 million in net assets and, in partnership with campus, raise more than $20 million a year to provide a steady and growing source of support for the University of Montana.

Historical Images

Over the years, the Foundation has provided tens of thousands of scholarships, supported innovative programs and helped secure funding from private donors for many of UM's iconic buildings including The Payne Family Native American Center, Don Anderson Hall, the Davidson Honors College, the Gallagher Business Building, the School of Law, the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center, the Skaggs Building and Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Today, the Foundation is helping UM President Royce Engstrom move the University toward the goals set forth in his strategic plan, UM 2020: Building a University for the Global Century.

The 60th anniversary of the UM Foundation would not have been possible without the vision and tireless work of those who kept the embers of interest alive for what matters most-- the belief that private financial support greatly enhances excellence in public higher education,” says Jack Russell ’65, chair of the Board of Trustees, who keeps UM and Missoula close to his heart, even from his Illinois home.

Several individuals spent a great deal of their lives pushing the Foundation forward and providing the University with the funds to build on its success. One of those who donated a great deal of her time and resources is Nancy Davidson ’59, who served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 1996 to 1998.

Recalling her time as a Trustee, Davidson reflects on the symbiotic relationship between the campus buildings, the students who learn in them and the professors who teach the students, none of whom would be there “were it not for the financial support that UM Foundation donors have given in terms of essential professorships and scholarships,” says Davidson.

Davidson also acknowledges that through each campaign the Foundation launched and with each dollar it raised, it used that momentum to propel itself to higher levels of expertise, professionalism and stature to the point that the Foundation has earned a reputation for integrity and effectiveness among its peers.

“In my opinion, today the University of Montana Foundation stands alone as the single most effective nonprofit fundraising organization in the state of Montana,” Davidson says.

“It has been a road traveled with partners all across campus, all through the years,” says Laura Brehm, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the UM Foundation’s journey.”

Historical images have been used with approval from Archives & Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, the University of Montana [70190-4, 6930-5, 6654-2, 83088-8 and 75017].