In December 2002, the College of Business at Montana State University Bozeman received a $3 million gift. In July 2003, the Board of Regents approved the request to honor this endowment by naming the Gary K. Bracken Center for Excellence. With this approval, the Bracken Center joins the established Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West. The funds were placed in an endowment.

"The Gary K. Bracken Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Business Education represents the next level of achievement for the accredited and successful undergraduate program in the College of Business at MSU-Bozeman," said Rich Semenik, dean of the college.

Dean Semenik is very excited that the endowment ensures a lasting impact for the MSU-Bozeman College of Business student programs. "The gift will not only impact today's students and faculty, but also will continue to serve students needs for generations to come."

Bracken was known as a visionary with respect to the college's efforts to emphasize undergraduate education, excellence in teaching, and strong faculty supported learning experiences for students. Dr. Renee Wachter was hired in August 2003 to oversee the development of the Bracken Center and to set goals that will bring to life the vision that Bracken began.

"We can now add executive mentoring programs, new scholarships, travel abroad fellowships, and career counseling services to the outstanding programs we already have in place," Dr. Wachter said.

Dean Semenik also states, "This gift from his friends and family allows us to build on the exceptionally strong features of our undergraduate program and create a truly extra-ordinary undergraduate learning experience. One of the things we are most excited about with respect to this gift is that since we have no old bills to pay or deficits to cover, every dollar will be going into student programs."

After Bracken graduated from MSU with a degree in accounting, he worked for the accounting firm of KPMG in Billings. Later, he joined a small start-up company and subsequently retired as executive vice president and controller of one of the largest cable media companies in the United States.

"Gary is an example of what MSU-Bozeman and the College of Business is all about," said Dean Semenik. He came from a small town in rural Montana (Sidney) and received a great education ( '61 accounting) that prepared him for a future in accounting and business. The community and MSU had a positive impact on his life that he never forgot."

Bracken had a long-time relationship with the College and was a member of the College's National Board of Advisors. He passed away April 2001. Through his friends and family, he was able to give back to the institution that prepared him for a successful future.

The gift had an immediate impact on several students of the College of Business. At the spring scholarship banquet, three students received the Bracken International Study Fellowship and six were awarded the Bracken Student Scholar scholarship.

An example of how one student used her Fellowship is Andrea LaBore, Sr., Bismarck, North Dakota. Labore is studying this summer in Costa Rica. She earned six college credits to complete the MSU Spanish non-teaching minor. While in Costa Rica, she did research for her honors thesis for the MSU-Bozeman Honors Program. She gathered information on the political, cultural and economic history of the country.