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Donors Provide $3 Million Boost For Premier Program At UM

University of Montana President Royce Engstrom has announced that a former associate dean and his wife have committed $3 million to the UM College of Forestry and Conservation. Joel and Patricia Meier of Denver have included a provision in their wills to fund an endowed chair in the Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management program.

“The Patricia and Joel Meier Wildland Recreation Management Chair will allow us to attract a leader in what is already a nationally renowned program at UM,” Engstrom said. “We are grateful for Joel and Patti Meier’s generosity. It certainly will help UM better serve students and the world.”

The UM Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management program prepares students for careers with land management agencies, nonprofits and nature-based tourism or for graduate studies in related areas.

“Patti and I loved the University, as well as Missoula’s geographic location and Montana’s great outdoors,” Joel Meier said. “My faculty colleagues were very supportive, mentored me, and helped me grow professionally. Also, I greatly enjoyed working with my students who were preparing for future careers in managing outdoor recreation opportunities and our nation’s magnificent natural resources. Now Patti and I want to give back to the institution and a program that has meant so much to us.”

Meier joined the UM faculty in 1970 and became a professor emeritus after 24 years of service. Originally, recreation management was part of the College of Education and Human Sciences. The program moved to the School of Forestry, and Meier served as its chair. He later was associate dean of the School of Forestry, which is now the UM College of Forestry and Conservation.

Meier left UM to chair the Department of Recreation and Park Administration at Indiana University. The Meiers retired in Denver. Joel Meier will give the Commencement address for the College of Forestry and Conservation on Saturday, May 14.

“The college’s leadership in recreation resource management started when Joel was a member of our faculty 20 years ago,” said James Burchfield, interim dean of the College of Forestry and Conservation. “This generous gift will ensure our students can actively engage with the best faculty in the best environment to learn how to protect and enjoy our natural legacy.”

Since 1980, more than 700 individuals have included UM in their wills. In addition to endowed professorships and chairs, bequests have supported scholarships, buildings and specific UM programs.