University of Montana Receives $11 Million Pledge

The has announced an $11 million pledge from the estate of alumnus Tom Cotter ('53) in support of academic scholarships for in-state students.

Made through the , the gift will provide support for the university’s recently launched Investing in Student Success Initiative. "I could have never made it without my education, and I want to see if I can help upgrade the situations of students who want the chance to learn," said Cotter. "I have such a love for Montana and the university and have always felt that students could be very good recipients of my money."

The son of ranchers, Cotter grew up in west-central Montana before dropping out of high school at the age of 16 and joining the merchant marine in 1945. He later received a master's degree from UM and served in the Army Counterintelligence Corps for two years. After spending nearly a decade at in Seattle, he changed fields and took a job with in 1965. Eventually, he joined the investment firm that would become and retired after twenty years with the firm. He subsequently established the Cotter Charitable Foundation, which awards grants to at least fifty different organizations annually.

"This is an incredible step toward providing resources for Montana high school students who wish to pursue a degree at the University of Montana," said UM president Royce Engstrom. "It is such a generous gift, and one that dramatically influences UM’s ability to recruit and support Montana high school students. Tom Cotter and his family will forever change the lives of many people through this generosity and foresight."

"." University of Montana Press Release 03/20/2014.