George M. Dennison - 1990-2010

George M. Dennison

August 1990-October 2010

"I have enjoyed every moment of the time I have had the privilege to serve as president of my alma mater."


  • B.S., The University of Montana, 1962
  • M.A., The University of Montana, 1963
  • Ph.D., The University of Washington, 1967

Accomplishments as President

  • Student enrollment increased nearly 50 percent– from 10,055 in 1990 to almost 15,000 in 2009; American Indian enrollment climbed from 239 to 569 during his tenure
  • Fundraising for the construction, expansion, and remodeling of numerous facilities, including Don Anderson Hall, Law Building addition, Phyllis J. Washington Education Center, The Payne Family Native American Center, Gallagher Business Building, expansions to Washington-Grizzly Stadium
  • Launched Partnering for Student Success, an initiative to increase retention and graduation rates by better preparing and supporting students
  • Built a culture of philanthropy across the campus and among UM alumni and friends that resulted in contributions of nearly $500 million from individuals, corporations, and foundations, increasing the endowment from $17.3 million to $120 million
  • Completed two fundraising campaigns for buildings, scholarships and other campus needs: The Ensuring a Tradition of Excellence campaign, from 1992 to 1997, and The Invest in Discovery campaign, from 2002 to 2007, which is the most successful campaign ever launched by a Montana nonprofit organization
  • Led the successful effort to establish the Montana Campus Compact, a statewide coalition that furthers campus-based public service
  • Founding Chair of the Montana Commission on Community Service
  • Reinserted “The” into “The University of Montana”
  • Charter signator of the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment

Speeches 1993-2010

Goals and Objectives 1994-2010

Background History

Dennison came to Montana from Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Western Michigan University (1987-90).  In earlier years, he spent time at the Universities of Arkansas and Washington prior to 18 years at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.  At Colorado State, he started as a history professor and then served in numerous other positions.  He held simultaneously the positions as Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Associate Dean of the Graduate School for International Development Studies.  He also served as Acting Academic Vice President, Associate Academic Vice President, and Director of Admissions and Records.

Following the Presidency

After more than 40 years of service as a University executive and administrator, President Dennison returned to his roots as an historian, researching and writing the history of the University of Montana. He died on Jan. 3, 2017, at the age of 81 due to complications from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In May 2012, the University Theatre was renamed the George and Jane Dennison Theatre, in recognition of the Dennisons' contributions to the University.


George M. Dennison

Landmarks Erected

  • Renovated University Theatre, 1997
  • Davidson Honors College, 1996
  • Gallagher Business Building, 1996
  • Parking Structure, 1996
  • James E. Todd Building, 1998
  • Renovation of University Center, 1995, 2001
  • Pantzer Hall, 1995
  • Renovation of Prescott House and Construction of Phyllis J. Washington Park, 1997
  • Renovation of Miller Hall, 1998
  • Renovation of Chemistry Building, 2004
  • Adams Center Renovation, 2000
  • Fitness and Campus Recreation Center, 2001
  • Established MonTEC, 1991
  • K. Ross Toole Village, 1997
  • Lewis and Clark Village, 2004
  • Don Anderson Hall, 2007
  • Skaggs Building Additions, 2000, 2007
  • Payne Family Native American Center, 2010
  • Phyllis J. Washington Education Center, 2009
  • Law School Building Addition, 2010
  • Washington-Grizzly Stadium Expansions, 1995, 2003, 2009

Programs Established

  • Reaccreditation of Pharmacy Program - the new College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences housing theSchool of Pharmacy which emerged as a leading research center on campus and ranked 7th nationally among Schools of Pharmacy for attracting NIH research funding.
  • Re-established Communicative Disorders on campus after a hiatus of nearly 20 years
  • Information Technology Strategic Plan
  • Enhanced the President's Lecture Series
  • First Diversity Plan and Diversity Advisory Council
  • Climate Action Plan and Sustainable Campus Program
  • Quality of Worklife Program