School of Journalism Benefits from Large Bequests

The School of Journalism often makes news for its award-winning student reporting. This spring, Dean Peggy Kuhr announced other news of note: a record number of scholarships and awards made possible by several sizable bequests.

The School of Journalism distributed $139,000 in scholarships and awards at the annual Dean Stone Awards Banquet. “Thanks to the continuing generosity of alumni and supporters of the J-school, we’ve been able to help students more than ever,” Dean Peggy Kuhr said.

A gift of almost $1 million came from the estate of Dorothy “Marge” Thayer, a philanthropist, poet and career woman from Helena who passed away in 2011. She directed that the money be used to establish the Thayer Fund to honor her parents, Louis M. Thayer and Dorothy MacLane Thayer, and her father’s newspaper career in Butte and Helena. Proceeds from the fund will assist graduate students in the school’s masters in environmental science program and natural resource journalism.

A bequest from the estate of Frank W. Milburn, Jr. will provide flexible funds for Dean Kuhr to help meet the School’s greatest needs. After graduating from UM with a degree in journalism and the Salzburg Mozarteum with degrees in piano and music history, Milburn was the music administrator for the New York Philharmonic for 26 years, among other accomplishments.

Another alum, Ted Hilgenstuhler, a veteran of 45 years in the field of journalism, also left a sizable gift for flexible and discretionary support.

Hilda McGaugh, whose husband was a longtime newspaper executive, pledged a gift to create and fund a visiting professorship in the School of Journalism, a gesture driven in part by her lifelong love of teaching and learning.

Just as important as these estate gifts, though, is the planning that goes into them. More than one gift to the School of Journalism has come unexpectedly. In one recent case, notice of an insurance policy gift was not received for 10 years. To ensure that your gift is received as soon as possible, it’s important to notify the Foundation of your estate plans in advance. This allows us to establish clear lines of communication should any follow-up be needed. It also allows the UM Foundation to work with you as you plan your gift so that it may be used according to your wishes.

If you’re considering a bequest to benefit students and programs at UM, please contact the UM Foundation Office of Gift Planning at 800.443.2593 or