Cowles’ $100,000 Gift Moves UM Closer to Having an Alumni Center on Campus

Don Cowles ’66, of Bozeman, calls his student days, “three of the greatest years of my life.”

Because he recognizes that other alumni have similar feelings and would like a place on campus where they can gather for social, business, or educational purposes, he and his wife, Patty, have committed $100,000 for architectural fees and planning for a new, on-campus alumni center that also will include office space for the UM Foundation. They have demonstrated an early belief in this campaign priority and hope others will join them to make the center a reality.

During the past four years, the Cowles family has looked at thirty to forty universities around the country and nearly all have alumni buildings. “Facilities like that make a first impression that is hard to beat,” Don says. “A nice building adds to the University’s presentation and might help with recruiting,” as some of UM’s newest academic facilities such as the Gallagher Business Building, Skaggs Biomedical Addition, and Don Anderson Hall for journalism do already.

Currently the Alumni Association and UM Foundation are housed—“cramped,” Don says —in Brantly Hall, a building constructed in the 1920s. “Having a new building for the Alumni Association and Foundation would raise the stature of the University in the eyes of alumni, promote better relations, and increase contributions. I’m hoping it will generate additional alumni giving,” he says, and leverage other connections to UM.

Although he knows the Invest in Discovery campaign has other building projects as priorities, “this was a good fit for me. Three of the greatest years of my life are a reason to support the University in this way.”

Jack Dietrich, 1924-2007

With the death of John M. “Jack” Dietrich ‘48, J.D. ‘49 Billings, the University and UM Foundation lost a valued former trustee and board chairman, philanthropist, and friend.

From his service on the Foundation board during its early years, chairmanship in 1982, and years of involvement, Jack brought the wisdom of a historian to all the meetings he attended. As a trustee emeritus, he continued active participation in the University, Foundation, and law school, and during the Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2001, he delivered the official chronicle of the board’s history.

His practice of law began with his admission to the Montana bar in 1950. During his career he received numerous honors, including the Jameson Award, the highest honor for professionalism from the Montana Bar Association. He was a specialist in estate planning, real estate, and corporate and business law.

A strong supporter of the University and its law school, Jack helped promote various fund drives, including the current “Building for Our Second Century” to modernize the Law Building. Named a UM Distinguished Alumni Award winner in 1997, Jack also received two other high honors from the University: the Pantzer Award and the Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award.

His obituary stated that Jack would be “remembered for his love of the state, support for its institutions, his pursuit of excellence, his self-deprecating sense of humor, his engaged humanism, and deep religious faith.” Survivors include his wife, Anne Kiefer Dietrich ‘50, children—Janet, David ’84, Suzy, Katja, and Paul, a UM professor—and grandchildren.

Ross Fund Facilitates UM Outreach Efforts

East of the Continental Divide, which many consider to be “Bobcat Country,” UM is reaching out to prospective students, alumni, and friends thanks to an outreach fund created by the family of the late John W. “Jack” ’34 and Mildred Ross of Fromberg.

The fund was established in 1997 by Mildred Ross, with her son, John ’69 of Billings, and her daughter, Betsy Ross Wilcox ’66 of Missoula, to memorialize her husband and their father, a longtime resident of that part of the state. Just before her death last year, Mildred became a UM Benefactors Society member by enhancing the fund with an additional $100,000 gift. It now carries both their names: The Jack and Mildred Ross Central and Eastern Montana Outreach Fund.

Jack grew up in Fromberg and after college at the UM School of Law and a clerkship with the Montana Supreme Court, he returned to Fromberg to practice law. He also had an ownership in banks in Fromberg and nearby Bridger. The Rosses were avid supporters of the University’s academic and athletic programs, and Mildred, a former teacher and basketball coach, rarely missed a Grizzly football or basketball game broadcast. They placed a high value on education and wanted to encourage young people from Central and Eastern Montana to take advantage of the programs UM had to offer, just as Jack and their children had. The Ross Outreach Fund supports promotion of the University—especially its athletics programs—across the state and facilitates communication between UM and the people of Eastern and Central Montana.

John Ross says, “I hope others who believe strongly in education and Grizzly athletics, as my parents did, will consider joining them in this effort so that the University can further encourage education and support for the Griz in Eastern and Central Montana.”

From the campaign chair

The sights and sounds of UM are now just a click away. The UM Foundation has launched a new Web site for the campaign at, and it’s bringing the campus to life on your computer. Whether it’s midnight in Ekalaka or tea time in London, UM alumni and friends can connect with students, faculty, and donors whenever and wherever they choose.

With a quick click of the mouse you can watch chemistry Professor Garon Smith perform an explosive experiment, venture inside the classroom of pharmacy Associate Professor Donna Beall, or witness biology Professor Ken Dial as he soars into the air like one of the birds he is famous for studying.

This new site, developed in association with the Missoula advertising and marketing firm Partners Creative, brings priorities of the campaign into sharp focus and is a good way for people to learn how their gifts will enhance students’ UM experiences. I personally like the interactive timeline, where I can go into the past decade-by-decade and learn about UM greats like Harold Urey, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, and Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

As you explore the site, you’ll discover fun, new ways to share your UM pride—such as forwarding your favorite video to a friend or issuing a challenge to make a difference in your department of choice. And making a gift to the UM Foundation has never been easier!

The site,, is an exciting and engaging new way to reach a broader base of alumni and friends and inform them about the campaign and the ongoing process of supporting the people and programs at UM. So come along and take a virtual tour. See how UM has shaped the world since it was founded, and experience how we are preparing to impact the twenty-first century.

Deborah Doyle McWhinney
National Campaign Chair

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