Davidsons Given Highest UM Honor
Ian ’53 and Nancy ’58 Davidson were inducted into the Order of the Grizzly at a ceremony in Great Falls on April 27. The Order of the Grizzly, the University’s most prestigious honor, was established by the UM Foundation in 1965 to honor Montanans or others with Montana roots whose accomplishments have earned them national or international reputations. Ian is chairman of the investment firm D.A. Davidson and was chairman of the National Association of Securities Dealers, which controls Nasdaq.
At the induction ceremony, University President George Dennison made Ian and Nancy Davidson the thirtieth and thirty-first individuals to receive the select award and presented them a bronze casting of the University’s mascot, the grizzly bear, sculptured by UM art Professor Emeritus Rudy Autio. Additional tributes came from Great Falls Mayor Randy Gray and Penny Peabody, chair of the UM Foundation Board of Trustees. About150 friends and family attended the ceremony.
Ian and Nancy Davidson gave $1.1 million in 1992 to elevate the University’s honors program to college status and to construct the Davidson Honors College Building just southwest of Main Hall.
The University had started honors education in 1979 as an experimental program to offer classes with small enrollment, innovative teaching and learning strategies, and more personal advising for promising students. Impressed with the program as a means to attract Montana’s most talented students to the University and ultimately to keep them in the state where they had been educated, the Davidsons made their gift. They say their involvement with the honors college and its students “has given us more satisfaction than any other non-family event thus far in our lives.”
Both have served on the UM Foundation board of trustees and are the only couple elected to its presidency, Ian in 1972 and Nancy in 1996. Together they chaired the Six-Mill Levy for the Montana University System in 1989 and each served on governor-appointed higher education committees for the state of Montana. The Order of the Grizzly has been awarded on a very selective basis to men and women whose philanthropic and civic accomplishments have changed the face of The University of Montana. Among past recipients are statesman Mike Mansfield, Nobel laureate Harold Urey, actor Carroll O’Connor, and newsman Chet Huntley.
Bonhomme Estate Substantially Enriches Scholarship Program
Traditionally when an individual leaves an entire estate to a university, it is because he or she attended that institution.
Not the case for Peter Bonhomme. His estate, valued at more than $8 million, was split between UM and Montana State University to provide scholarships for students at the two schools. Neither he nor his wife, Elvi, are alumni of either institution.
Their gift is the largest UM has ever received specifically for a scholarship fund, according to Sharen Peters, president of the UM Foundation. UM’s share was placed in an endowed fund expected to generate about $200,000 for scholarships each year. The fund should substantially impact the University’s scholarship program, which had to turn down forty-two percent of last year’s applicants. UM sophomores, juniors, and seniors in any discipline may apply for the scholarships.
The Bonhommes’ wealth came from their ranching operation in the Shields Valley near Livingston. After Peter Bonhomme’s death in October of 2000, the ranch was sold to an anonymous Texas buyer who also purchased adjoining properties to create a new cattle ranch that stretches from the Yellowstone River near Springdale to the southern end of the Crazy Mountains.
Even Easier Than Writing a Check ...
Two new programs make giving to UM easier than ever. In addition to the traditional method of writing a check, UM now offers an electronic fund transfer (EFT) program and Internet giving. Both are fast, easy, and allow donors to determine timing of their gifts.
With two million new users going on-line every month, the Internet is fast becoming the communication tool of choice of half the U.S. population, and it is predicted that 65 percent of all transactions will be conducted electronically by 2010. To make an online gift, just go to the UM Foundation’s website, www.umt.edu/umf/ and click on the “give online” button. Donors may be confident of the privacy of their credit card numbers because this is a secure website. Once a gift made is made online it is confirmed by the UM Foundation.
A donor may request EFT forms from the Foundation to authorize his or her bank to automatically withdraw a specified amount from either a checking or savings account each month. “Like a payroll deduction plan, EFT encourages developing a habit of giving because donors can continue their giving program for any period they choose,” says Kathy Schaub, director of annual giving. “Our student callers always ask alumni and friends they call during the phonathons if they prefer EFT to receiving pledge reminders and then writing checks.”
Despite these technological advances, most gifts still come to UM the old-fashioned way. “We’ll always welcome a check from those who want to support programs to help UM students,” Schaub adds.
When You License Your Car, Drive With The University
When Derek Bunnell graduated from UM in 1995, he bought himself a graduation present — a UM license plate.
He’s had UM plates ever since. “And so do most of my friends,” he says. “It’s a great way to show support for the University. I encourage everybody to buy the license plates.”
Each Montana county treasurer’s office has the commemorative plates available for a $22.50 annual fee. Montanans have been eager participants in the program at UM as well as at all the state’s other public, private, and tribally controlled colleges; each has its own distinctive plate.
Since the program began in 1992, more than 4,000 Montana automobiles have been licensed with UM plates. In its first year, the charge added to motor vehicle registration generated about $26,000. The license plate program has grown in popularity; ten years after its inception it brings in nearly $140,000 a year from both new and renewing plate holders. The endowment created from those proceeds is currently in excess of $1 million. Its earnings provide more than $53,000 a year in general and Presidential Leadership Scholarships for students.
“The license plate program is a truly significant component of the University’s scholarship program,” says Sharen Peters. “It’s provided more than $250,000 for UM students during the last ten years.”
This academic year, sixty-one students were awarded License Plate Scholarships ranging from $750 to $1,250. One is Heidi Warren, an elementary education major from Hardin, who is pleased to have the scholarship. “Not only does it help financially so I don’t need so many loans, but it’s also a reward for my hard work to this point,” she says.
Bunnell intends to continue to participate in the program, especially after hearing about the quarter-million dollars in scholarship support the fund has provided.