Gift from Missoula Couple Launches Gifted Education Program

Gifted education in Montana received a boost this fall thanks to UM supporters Suzanne and Dave Peterson. On September 12, the couple announced their $1.5 million commitment to the University of Montana’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. Their generous gift will create the Suzanne and Dave Peterson Distinguished Professor of Gifted Education.
“We are incredibly thankful for this gift and the impact it will have on the lives of children everywhere,” said Dean Roberta Evans. “For years Suzanne has been a leader for the College of Education and Human Sciences, as well as the University of Montana, and this momentous gift memorializes the commitment she and Dave share to improve education across our state, region and nation.”
Suzanne and Dave Peterson
The new faculty member will specialize in gifted education, an area of growing interest nationwide that has received less funding and attention than other kinds of special education. With a specialist in this discipline, UM will become the only university in the Northern Rockies to offer a comprehensive education in the field of personalized learning.
In addition to training tomorrow’s educators, the college will contribute to ongoing research into how and why gifted children are best motivated to succeed.

“It is exciting to think that our gift has the potential to touch so many lives,” Suzanne said. “We have always been supporters of education and believe that all children deserve the opportunity to maximize their learning potential. If they have the opportunity to be challenged and engaged in the classroom because teachers have the training they need, the possibilities for educational success will be endless.”
The Petersons, both UM alumni, owned and operated Quality Supply until 2011. Suzanne currently serves on the UM Foundation Board of Trustees.
To support this endowment, contact Director of Development Erika Twedt or visit us online at