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Montana Western Announces $11.8M Raised in Historic Experience One Campaign

February 15, 2023

University of Montana Western Chancellor, Michael Reid, has announced the university’s plans for major investments in scholarships, academic programs, athletics, and student wellness as part of the $13M Experience One Campaign.

Montana Western Campus

The largest-ever fundraising campaign in UMW’s history will increase scholarship support for students, expand academic programs and the impact of Experience One, create a new Student Wellness Center, and construct a new Sports & Activities Complex on the UMW campus.

“Today marks the start of a new and even more vibrant future for the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the University of Montana Western,” said Reid. “Our vision for Montana Western is ambitious, but so too are the goals of our students. Montana Western and the Bulldog Community believe in them, and we want to invest in their future.”

With over $11.8 of the $13 million already raised, that message is clearly ringing true.

“When we set out on this effort, our goal was to transform the student experience,” said Roxanne Engellant, Executive Director of the University of Montana Western Foundation. “Thanks to the generosity of our Bulldog Community, we are well on our way to fulfilling our commitment to our students and our university.”

With the support of its generous donors, Montana Western plans to fully fund four priorities, starting with significantly expanding scholarship opportunities for UMW students. The next priority of the campaign focuses on the university’s one of a kind “Experience One” program, which funds experiential and hands-on learning opportunities for students in real-world settings to fully prepare them for their future careers and graduate school programs. To support the mental and physical health and wellbeing of UMW’s students, the third fundraising priority is to create a new Student Wellness Center as part of an expansion and renovation of the front entrance of the existing Bulldog Athletics and Recreation Complex, a project that will be primarily funded through student fees and private support. 

The final fundraising priority will allow for the design and construction of a new Sports & Activities Complex on 14 acres of land adjacent to campus that John and Phyllis Erb pledged to the university in 2019. Plans for the new Complex reflect the stability of Montana Western, the caliber of its football program, and a desire to foster campus pride among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community. With expanded seating and new amenities, the Complex will significantly enhance the game-day and campus life experience and will aid in recruiting future students and student-athletes. The new Complex will also be available to host local games and events for other community organizations to support the youth of Beaverhead County.

The Experience One Campaign has received two of the largest donations in Montana Western’s history – $1+ million from both the Sloan Family Foundation and Jim and Sarah Kennedy. To date, there have been over 240 gifts made to the campaign.

In addition to the land pledge from John and Phyllis Erb, other major campaign gifts include $500,000 from the Baty family, $500,000 from Steve and Gretchen Burke, $225,000 from the Harrington/Hirschy family, $200,000 from Greg and Tracy Johnson and Jenny Johnson, $150,000 from the Montana Office of Tourism, $115,000 from Stockman Bank, and $100,000 gifts from Bob and Helen Hanson, Tony Pierce, Matt and Jenny Blades, Beaverhead Motors, and Pioneer Federal Savings & Loan.

“The level of enthusiasm, support, and generosity for this effort is a testament to the dedication of our alumni and the greater Bulldog Community,” said Reid. “Anyone who was or is a UMW student, or just loves this university, should take pride in being part of such a vibrant community.”

The university plans to break ground as soon as the upcoming academic year for both the Complex and the Student Wellness Center once authorizations by the Board of Regents are obtained. Additional fundraising efforts will be made over the next few months as a general contractor is secured and in-kind contributions for the Complex are considered.

“We are thrilled and humbled by the support we have experienced from our Bulldog Community,” said Engellant. “We wish to thank each of our donors, and invite your support as we work together to invest in the future of Montana Western, our students, and our community.” 

For more information about Montana Western’s fundraising efforts or to support the Experience One Campaign, please contact the University of Montana Western Foundation at 406-683-7305, email [email protected], or visit