On Thursday, The Montana University System Board of Regents approved the naming of the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation and the Franke Global Leadership Initiative in honor of Bill and Carolyn Franke and their family’s $24 million gift to the University of Montana.

At a ceremony in the Gilkey Center for Executive Education on Thursday, the University of Montana officially accepted the transformative gift. Bill Frank’s son David said the gift reflects his father’s and his entire family’s strong belief in the value of higher education.

“It starts with the power of education,” Franke said. “My dad has been able to create the successes in his life in large part because of the educational experiences he had, and he looks back on that and sees the power of what it enabled him to do, so we see this as that enabling type of gift to a school that has high quality, but is a little under the radar, and provide and impact and awareness. It’s just such a quality place with the students and the faculty.”

Franke said the College of Forestry and Conservation and the Global Leadership Initiative are both a perfect fit for the Franke family’s values and philosophy

“It really goes back to my father’s early years running a forest products company, and of course, our family loves hiking in the Bitterroots and we have a place in Montana, as well,” he continued. And for the newly named Franke Global Leadership Initiative, Franke said all manners of business must be globally minded. “Students need to be aware,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a dry cleaner or running some other local business, chances are you’re going to have some international aspect to your business. So, you need to have that broader perspective, and that’s where the Global Leadership Initiative will make a difference.”

Franke said having the family name on both the College of Forestry and Conservation and the Global Leadership Initiative will emphasize his family’s commitment to higher education over the years to come.

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