Liberal Arts Building Rename Honors UM Supporters Dennis and Gretchen Eck

A picture of Dennis and Gretchen Eck before Eck Hall.
Dennis and Gretchen Eck pose before the former Liberal Arts Building at UM, which has been renamed in their honor.

MISSOULA – The Montana University System Board of Regents has approved the University of Montana’s request to rename its Liberal Arts Building the Dennis and Gretchen Eck Liberal Arts Building.

The renaming honors longtime UM supporters Dennis and Gretchen Eck, who have contributed nearly $11 million to the University. Their gifts have funded renovations to most of the Liberal Arts Building, one of the most frequented buildings on Montana’s flagship campus.

In 2017, the Board of Regents approved the University’s request to name the Academic Hall of the Liberal Arts Building after Dennis and Gretchen. The new renaming applies to the entire building in recognition of their ongoing philanthropic gifts and continued dedication to transforming the Liberal Arts Building to better serve UM students, faculty and the community.  

“The improvements that have been made to the Liberal Arts Building, because of the vision and generosity of Dennis and Gretchen, will benefit UM students for years to come,” said Julie Baldwin, interim dean of UM’s College of Humanities & Sciences. “It is important that the building now reflects their names.”

UM’s Liberal Arts Building was constructed in 1953 and has served as the primary home for the institution’s humanities offerings. Due to the contributions of the Eck Family, the building now features many renovated spaces, including 25 classrooms with innovative teaching technology, a 120-seat auditorium, a new central building entrance on the famed Oval, three student and faculty engagement hubs, several ADA-accessible restrooms and a new academic advising center, as well as significant upgrades to the building’s sprinkler, electric, HVAC and internet infrastructure.

“The teaching, learning and technology environment of this building is completely transformed by the renovations,” Baldwin said.

The Ecks also gave a significant gift in 2019 to support the University’s S.E.A. Change Initiative, which prepares students to be change drivers and next-generation leaders who champion gender equity. They also established a scholarship fund for Native American students.

A native of Wolf Point and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Dennis Eck earned his degree at UM in history and political science. Gretchen Eck was raised in Butte and also attended UM. After completing a degree in history and political science in 1967, Dennis Eck launched a successful career in corporate retail, serving in executive leadership positions with Jewel Companies Inc., The Vons Companies, Coles Myer and Ulta Beauty Inc. Today, he is the principal of DKE Retail Studies.  

The UM Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that has inspired philanthropic support to enhance excellence and opportunity at UM since 1950.


Contact: Elizabeth Willy, director of communications, UM Foundation, 406-243-5320,