Montana State University

Mountains and Minds

The impact of giving November 22, 2016 • Published 11/22/16

Since Montana State University’s What It Takes comprehensive campaign launched in September 2015, hundreds of people from all walks of life and income levels have given their financial support to MSU students and programs. Here is a sample of how a few of those people are impacting the future of higher education in Montana.

Laura Sullivan-Russett is a native of Bozeman and a computer science major at MSU. Robert Olsen from Deer Lodge is studying chemical and biological engineering. Both students are recipients of the Woodward Family Scholarship and are thankful for their respective scholarship awards. Sullivan-Russett and Olsen each feel fortunate about how the internship and lab experiences MSU offers motivate and inspire them. Clem Izurieta and Jeff Heys, MSU professors who have Sullivan-Russett and Olsen in their classes, describe them as hard-working students who seem truly happy in preparing for their chosen fields.

Sullivan-Russett and Olsen are the kind of Montana students who Eugene (Jim) and Carol Woodward envisioned would benefit when they established their family-named scholarship with the intention of helping keep college affordable for students. Thirty years ago, the Woodwards gave their first gift to MSU—$50 to benefit engineering scholarships. Every year since then, they have donated to MSU at increasing levels, culminating this spring in gifts totaling $75,000. The Woodwards’ gifts will benefit the South Campus Development, MSU Library, KUSM, College of Engineering’s greatest needs and the Woodward Family Scholarship.

Jim Woodward grew up in Whitehall and earned an industrial engineering degree from Montana State in 1969. While in college, he received financial assistance from his aunt and his father’s cousin. Jim worked for more than 40 years as an engineer at 3M in Minnesota and credits MSU with providing the foundation for his career opportunities and success. Carol Woodward earned an undergraduate degree from University of Oregon and a master’s degree in library science from University of Washington.
When asked why he has been such a loyal donor, Woodward explained, “I wouldn’t have made it to and through college without the help of my family and my family’s friends. Giving back is something I not only want to do, but something I need to do.” In addition to their recent gifts, the Woodwards have also included MSU in their estate plans.
Now retired, the Woodwards’ generosity to MSU is hard at work supporting students like Olsen, who wants a career working to improve human health and is considering the field of pharmaceutical production, and Sullivan-Russett, who aspires to a career in technology.

Connie Rumely has set up several gifts to support the John H. Rumely Award in memory of her late husband. These gifts included naming MSU as the beneficiary of her IRA, a charitable remainder trust and annual gifts via the IRA rollover transfer. John Rumely was an MSU professor of botany and curator of the MSU Herbarium for 32 years. The award is designated to support the instructional, research and scholarly activities of the curricula traditionally known as botany.

Victoria Barnick made a gift to endow the Robinson-Barnick STEM Scholarship, and included an additional current use gift to award the scholarship in fall 2016. In addition, Barnick included MSU in her estate plans through a bequest, which will fund four awards in perpetuity through the Robinson-Barnick STEM Scholarship and provide support to the Microbiology Department.

Loren Schillinger documented a $500,000 bequest gift to be split between the College of Engineering, the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and the Library, in addition to supporting his two named scholarships for chemical engineering students and business students majoring in finance or accounting. Schillinger grew up on a farm in Vida and attended MSU through a chemical engineering scholarship. He spent most of his career with Dow Agrisciences.

Sue Justis plans to gift a $100,000 property to MSU via a beneficiary deed. Justis is a professor of medical biology at Flathead Valley Community College and serves on the College of Nursing Dean’s Advisory Council. Her gift will be directed to establish an endowment in the College of Nursing that will award scholarships to non-traditional students transferring from FVCC.

Marla Patterson provided for a gift estimated at $66,000 to the College of Nursing in her living trust. Cmdr. Patterson (Ret.) joined the U.S. Navy as an operating room nurse after earning her nursing degree from MSU. She retired after more than 28 years of service.

Many ways to give

With philanthropic intention and commitments that suit their finances, these donors have found a variety of ways to make impacts across campus.


Irene Hansen-Peters and Bruce Peters established an estate bequest in memory of Irene’s mother, Martha Gilman-Hansen.

IMPACT College of Nursing student scholarships


Connie M. Rumely gave $5,000 via a distribution from her IRA through the IRA Rollover provision.  

IMPACT Botany instruction and research with a preferred focus on field studies of native Montana plants


Norman F. Weeden, professor. gave $10,000, as he has every year since 1999, for a giving total of $196,000.    

IMPACT Legumes genetics research and graduate students in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology


Helen J. Lee, former College of Nursing faculty member, designated MSU as the beneficiary of her home (estimated value $220,000).

IMPACT  General support and research for the College of Nursing


Cynde and Clem Pellett designated a $100,000 gift in memory of Cynde’s mother, Betty L. Reed, in their will and gave an outright gift of $25,000.

IMPACT Library Special Collections and Archives

To be a part of the change and make your own impact, visit