UM Launches Campaign to Build Environment and Conservation Hub

Building renderings are courtesy of A&E Architects.

A rendering of the building with the Treasure Montana logoMISSOULA – The University of Montana Foundation and the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation announce the launch of “Treasure Montana: Cultivating Our Tomorrow,” a fundraising campaign to safeguard and sustain Montana’s vibrant landscapes, natural resources and ecosystems.

“At its heart, this campaign is about the responsibility to steward our environment, connecting all of us who treasure our natural world,” said UM President Seth Bodnar. “The Franke College is a recognized leader in ensuring the environment retains its beauty and richness for centuries to come, and Treasure Montana provides an opportunity to be part of that effort.”

The campaign seeks to inspire philanthropic support for a new building that will serve as Montana’s hub for the environment and conservation on the UM campus. The new facility will provide students, faculty members and other partners with resources and spaces to tackle today’s complex challenges affecting Montana and the American West, including pressing issues such as increased forest fire activity, drought and water shortages, and decline in trout populations.

Treasure Montana’s launch marks the beginning of the public phase of fundraising for the building, which was preceded by an initial federal funding strategy that has been underway since Montana lawmakers appropriated $25 million for construction of the new building in 2021. In total, $20 million in donor support is needed to realize construction of the facility.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have this public-private partnership and to prioritize this important initiative that will serve the state and beyond,” Bodnar said.

With 60,000 square feet of classrooms, labs, gathering space and student services, the new building will be located at the heart of campus, between Main Hall and the Davidson Honors College.

Designed by A&E Architects, the structure will feature innovative sustainable wood building products and be LEED-certified. This building will be among the largest structures in the region constructed of mass timber, an environmentally friendly building product that can be manufactured locally and could save on construction costs compared to traditional steel and concrete.

The existing Forestry Building, built in 1922, will remain in use to complement the new structure.

By harnessing the collective power of donors, alumni and community partners, the campaign aims to unlock the full potential of the Franke College and its impact.

“UM has great strengths in environment, natural resources, conservation and sustainability. The Franke College is leaning hard into those in this moment of significant demand for our state, our region and world,” said Alan Townsend, the Franke College dean. “Creating a prominent hub on campus is an essential next step – one that will ensure we remain a leader in training top students and forging partnerships that help society find solutions to some of our most pressing challenges.” 

The Treasure Montana campaign invites alumni, friends, corporations and foundations to join hands in the mission to create an intentional and iconic campus space that serves and enriches teaching, learning and research and brings together collaborators to take on the issues facing Montanans and humanity at large.

To learn more about the Treasure Montana campaign, give and engage, visit

“We are excited to embark on this journey with our donors and partners who share the University’s commitment to uplifting the lives of others, serving Montana’s communities and addressing the critical issues of our time," said Cindy Williams, president and CEO of the UM Foundation. “Private support for Treasure Montana ensures that Franke College students, faculty and alumni – many of whom have been recognized as leaders in their field – continue to make a meaningful and lasting impact on our treasured landscapes, communities and the planet.”

Founded in 1913, the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at UM is a mission-oriented institution whose commitment to experiential education, solution-driven research and broad engagement with multiple different communities and partners makes it a global leader in natural resource management, conservation, environmental science and the translation of knowledge into action.

The University of Montana Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring philanthropic support for UM. Since its inception in 1950, the foundation has played a pivotal role in enhancing excellence and opportunity at the University.


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