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UMW dedicates Legacy Plaza Amphitheater and Model Classroom.

ribbon cutting

University of Montana Western faculty, staff and students joined donors and community members Friday to dedicate the recently completed Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Model Classroom for Education, and the Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan Amphitheater in Legacy Plaza.

The university also marked the completion of Legacy Plaza and final stage of the Main Hall complex restoration.

Mike Halligan, Washington Foundation executive director; Tom Welch, Pioneer Federal president and CEO; Beth Weatherby, Montana Western chancellor; and Susan Briggs, vice chancellor; cut a ceremonial ribbon to open both venues. 

“The new spaces have truly transformed the campus, enhancing Main Hall, tying our buildings together and creating a place for all sorts of exciting new things to take place,” Weatherby said.

The model classroom was made possible by a gift from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. The foundation’s generosity not only created a state-of-the-art classroom lab for education students, but also restored the university’s historic library.

Pioneer Federal Savings and Loan, a longtime supporter of the university, funded the amphitheater project which has become the major architectural feature in Legacy Plaza providing a multi-use space for outdoor lectures, classes, performances, events and informal gatherings. 

“These projects have been a labor of love for so many people the past 10 years,” Vice Chancellor Susan Briggs said. “We have created a beautiful space that people can enjoy for generations to come.”

In 2013, the Montana Legislature appropriated $4 million toward the final phase of Main Hall renovations. As a part of obtaining the funding, Montana Western was required to raise $500,000 in matching funds. 

Legacy Plaza was created as a concept to allow donors and the community to assist in raising the funding. As a result the university was the first in the Montana University System to meet the goal.

— Montana Western —