Impact Stories


Deana Pedersen and Kerry Foresman

A Passion for Education

September 5, 2023

After decades of teaching and researching at UM, Kerry Foresman and Deana Pedersen are still helping students through philanthropy. They recently made a commitment in their estate plan to establish scholarships for biology, wildlife biology and microbiology majors. Their scholarships will help make higher education accessible for UM students pursuing degrees and meaningful careers in these fields.

A supporter bids on autographed books during the silent auction at the Hooks for Books fundraiser.

Hooks for Books Fundraiser Makes 'State Treasure' Shine

August 2, 2023

Entrepreneur, writer and fly-fisher Tim O’Leary ‘81 and Creative Writing Director Chris Dombrowski, with support from the UM Foundation, are organizing the second annual Hooks for Books to support future generations of writers. This fundraiser will gather the literary and fly-fishing communities to benefit UM’s nationally renowned creative writing program.

Amber Freed and Dr. Mike Kavanaugh

'Fighting Like a Mother'

June 12, 2023

When Amber Freed's son Maxwell was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called SLC6A1, she was fiercely determined to find a cure. She founded SLC6A1 Connect, a patient-led organization that has become a key philanthropic partner for UM’s neuroscience program and research led by UM professor Dr. Mike Kavanaugh. Ongoing private support will ensure Dr. Kavanaugh and other neuroscience researchers at UM can continue their critical efforts to help families like the Freeds.


'It Belongs to All People'

June 5, 2023

For retired U.S. Forest Service ecologist and Curator Emeritus Peter Stickney, the University of Montana Herbarium is more than the state's largest collection of plant specimens; it’s a culmination of rich botanical and historical knowledge that serves communities worldwide. Stickney has established an endowment that will grow this precious resource.


Sergeant First Class Alan L. Boyer

Honoring an American Hero

September 26, 2022

A newly established scholarship will memorialize Vietnam veteran Sergeant First Class Alan L. Boyer, a UM student who enlisted in the U.S. Army Special Forces in 1966. Boyer's family established a scholarship to support UM students while honoring his legacy of military service, and his love for Montana and for the University of Montana.

Craig and Mary Ann Pierson

High School Chemistry Teacher, Alum Gives Back to UM

April 25, 2022

Dr. Craig Pierson made a commitment in his estate plan to establish scholarships for music and journalism students. The UM alum and high school chemistry teacher will help driven, talented students earn degrees and pursue meaningful careers in these fields.

Ralph and Norma Hartse

UM Professorship Honors Music Educators’ Legacy of Excellence

March 30, 2022

Ralph and Norma Hartse were beloved UM alumni and educators who inspired young musicians through their teaching careers at Custer County High School in Miles City. Their daughter, Dr. Kristyna Hartse, is honoring their legacy by creating the Ralph J. and Norma M. Hartse Endowed Professor of Bands at UM’s School of Music.  

Jill Farnsworth, Miyuki Hayashi and Jess Ray

‘A Breath of Fresh Air’: Stella Duncan Memorial Fellows Pursue Impactful Careers in Biomedical Science

January 26, 2022

Jill Farnsworth, Miyuki Hayashi and Jess Ray have all dedicated their professional lives to improving the health of others. These accomplished alumnae each exemplify the tradition of scientific discovery established by 1907 alumna and donor Stella Duncan Johnstone.


Sally Mauk

The Joy of Giving

September 30, 2021

When Sally Mauk launched her journalism career in 1980, she realized the importance of female mentors. In this Q&A, Mauk shares her motivation for establishing an endowment to foster and support MTPR journalists.

Don and Suzanne Johnson

'Keepers of the Place' Empower UM Students

September 29, 2021

Don ‘64 and Suzanne Johnson have dedicated their lives to improving their community and environment. Through current and deferred gifts, the Johnsons are ensuring future generations can continue their legacy of service.

Antonio Jarvey

Philanthropy Enables UM Saxophonist to Pursue Promising Musical Career

August 30, 2021

With support from privately funded scholarships, UM junior Antonio Jarvey is taking advantage of every opportunity to prepare for a career as a solo artist as he earns a bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance from UM’s School of Music.

Karen De La Luz Martinez

First-Generation UM Business Alumna Launches Cybersecurity Career

July 28, 2021

With access to hands-on learning experiences and support from scholarship donors, UM graduate Karen De La Luz Martinez has followed her dream of working in the field of cybersecurity. Now, the 2021 College of Business alumna works with KPMG's Cybersecurity Transformation Team in San Francisco.

Libby Steigers with her son on graduation day

Nurse, Mom, Missoula College Graduate Follows Her Purpose to Serve Others

May 6, 2021

Libby Steigers earned an Associate of Science in nursing this spring. In this Q&A, she shares her inspiration to pursue a career in health care and the role scholarship support played in her academic journey.

Libby Riddle

Herpetology Career Awaits Student Success Scholarship Recipient

April 28, 2021

Libby Riddle always dreamed of becoming a wildlife biologist. With assistance from UM’s Student Success Scholarship Fund, which focuses on assisting students with financial need, she is making her dream come true.

Judith Morgan and Walter Cronkite

Around the World and Giving Back

February 24, 2021

UM alumna Judith Morgan has made generous gifts to the Montana Journalism Abroad Program, ensuring that when pandemic conditions allow, UM students can experience the transformative power of travel.


Kate Indreland

Montana Access Scholarships Provide More Than $1 Million in Need-Based Student Aid

November 24, 2020

Learn how Montana Access Scholarships help students like Kate Indreland to succeed in their dreams of earning an undergraduate degree.

Bob and Judi Pantzer

Honoring a Presidential Legacy

September 8, 2020

The University of Montana has had an indelible impact on Bob and Judi Pantzer’s lives. Learn how the pair is using their estate plan to honor the place that has been such an important part of their story.

Jordan Gross

Gift Lets Students Support Criminal Justice Reform in Rural Areas

August 30, 2020

A newly expanded program at UM’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law will provide graduate students with opportunities to make immediate, meaningful impacts on justice policies that affect rural and indigenous communities.

Allison Grigonis

Dream of Study Abroad Student Disrupted; Private Support Helps Her Stay on Track

August 30, 2020

When Allison Grigonis returned to the U.S. from Japan with unexpected expenses in March, her perseverance matched with private support from the UM Emergency Student Support Fund helped her stay on track to graduate in spring 2021.

Portia Fox

UM Grad, Respiratory Therapist Works Pandemic Front Lines, Supports UM Students

June 22, 2020

Alumna Portia Fox shares her inspiration to donate to the UM Emergency Student Support Fund and her experience as a healthcare professional during the pandemic.

A psychologist works with a child.

Clinical Psychology Center Transitions to Teletherapy During Pandemic

April 27, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the University of Montana’s Clinical Psychology Center to close its doors in late March, Center leaders launched a telehealth program to continue treating current patients.

Myles stands in front of the Lakers sign at the Staples Center.

A Lifelong Dream Realized: New UM Business Grad Works for L.A. Lakers

February 27, 2020

Myles McKee-Osibodu is living his childhood dream: He works as a media relations associate with the Lakers.


Paul and Betty Haack

The Gift of Education

September 9, 2019

Paul and Betty Haack's philanthropic contributions established undergraduate scholarships for Montana residents and created a faculty fellowship. Read how witnessing the impact of their gifts gave the Haacks the confidence to further their legacy by including support in their estate plan.

Dr. Bill Reynolds

A Lifetime of Devotion

September 8, 2019

Dr. Bill Reynolds, a beloved physician, earned a pre-med degree from UM in 1952, then completed his medical training and served the Missoula community for four decades. He has served on several UM boards and makes it a priority to give to the institution, including through his estate plan.