UM announces largest gift in school history

Missoula Current

The University of Montana Foundation announced the largest single gift in the school’s history on Tuesday, one directed toward the Global Leadership Initiative and the College of Forestry and Conservation.

Bill Franke and his family, which pledged the $24 million gift, have also given to Stanford University and the University of Northern Arizona. The family owns a home in Montana and has spent time on the university campus.

“This will become the largest single gift ever received by the University of Montana, pending approval by the Montana University System Board of Regents,” said Paul Short, director of communications at UM. “The family’s gift is focused on conserving Montana’s natural resources and expanding the global perspective of our students.”

During the past six years, Short said, the Frankes have met with professors, students, administrators and alumni, and have developed a strong connection to the Missoula-based university.

In consideration the gift, Short said, UM will look to rename both the College of Forestry and Conservation, as well as the Global Leadership Initiative, in honor of the family’s generosity.

Short said the naming proposal must be vetted by faculty within the forestry college, as well as the oversight board for the Global Leadership Initiative.

The Faculty Senate, and the university’s president and provost will also have a say. If approved, Short said, the proposal will then be submitted to the Board of Regents for consideration.

“The University has begun its process of vetting the naming proposal within the UM campus community,” said Short. “When the Board of Regents addresses this item in November, the public will have the opportunity to participate in the process.”

Short said UM and the UM Foundation will share more about the Franke family and its gift in the weeks ahead, along with more details on the gift itself.