Rendering of the expansion$10 Million Gift to Expand UM’s Education Programs

Building a better education for Montana: That’s one of the primary goals of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.

Since 1985, the foundation has invested in scholarships, expanding support to include cutting-edge programs and facilities for teaching and learning at UM. Now, it has made another transformative gift to propel high-quality educational preparation for the next generation of Montanans.

With the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation’s generous $10 million gift, the University will construct an addition to the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center – the epicenter of UM’s education and human sciences programs.

Three stories tall, the addition will connect to the west end of the building and provide 35,000 square feet of instructional and collaborative space. Included in the new wing are a 500-seat auditorium, the largest on campus; clinical labs for the counselor education program; new spaces for the Montana Digital Academy; and two additional Learning and Belonging Preschool classrooms with observation rooms, seminar spaces, an outdoor play yard and a unique inspiration lab.

“We could not be more proud to have Dennis and Phyllis Washington as our allies in building an exceptional college for education and human sciences,” said UM President Sheila Stearns. “They epitomize the Montana ethic of working hard, earning success and giving back to build a stronger Montana.”

Preliminary preparations for construction began in late August. The project is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2018.

The addition is solely funded through philanthropic giving, and several generous donors have joined the Washington Foundation to support the project. Last year, the Alice Lee Lund Charitable Trust made a $5 million gift toward the auditorium, and significant contributions have also come from Montanans Betsy and Warren Wilcox and Maureen and Dan Rovig. (Betsy and Maureen are both graduates of UM’s education program).

“Since the beginning of our foundation, both Dennis and I have been committed to helping youth realize their dream of accessing high quality education through scholarships,” said Phyllis Washington, chairperson of the Washington Foundation. “As a former elementary education teacher myself, I realize that investing in 21st-century technology and facilities and in transformative teacher development programs will impact students for generations to come.

Alumni and friends gather to celebrate the announcement of the $10 million gift from the Washington Foundation.
“Dennis and I are honored to play a key role in supporting education programs, from early childhood to creating this new, state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment right here in our hometown of Missoula.”
The Washington Foundation helped fund the first addition to the education center, which was completed in 2009 and named in honor of Phyllis Washington. Since then, the college has only grown – both in number of students and in academic excellence.

The college showed across-the-board enrollment growth from academic year 2015 to 2016, and is on track to continue that upward trend. The growth demonstrates that the college is meeting demand for qualified teachers, distance-learning options and mental health professionals across Montana. Donor investment in the college’s new facility will help propel these already successful programs.

“We are poised to become a national leader in education, human sciences and other helping professions,” said Roberta Evans, dean of the college. “With the support and guidance of these generous and passionate friends of our college, our programs will continue to grow and support high-needs fields through the development of qualified professionals.”

More information about the programs enhanced by the new addition is online at To
invest in this project, please contact Twedt Hailes, senior director of development, at 406.243.4568 or