UM cuts ribbon for new center of executive education and leadership training

The University of Montana cut the ribbon to its new Gilkey Center for Executive Education on Thursday. Pictured from left to right are Larry Gianchetta, dean of the School of Business Administration, UM alumni and donor Priscilla Gilkey, UM President Royce Engstrom, and UM alumni and donor Harold Gilkey. (Photo by Martin Kidston)


Notable alumni joined the University of Montana in commencing a new campus building on Thursday, one that’s expected to prepare future leaders for the world’s challenges and serve as a beacon for executive training.

UM President Royce Engstrom joined Priscilla and Harold Gilkey in cutting the ribbon to the new 31,000 square-foot facility, which now bears the Gilkey name and anchors the School of Business Administration and its growing footprint on campus.

“UM is focused on cultivating leaders who will thrive in the global 21st century,” said Engstrom. “Our executive education program will help business leaders build strong organizations and support economic vitality.”

The ceremony, held between the new Gilkey Building and the Gallagher Building – home to the business school – saw a crowd of roughly 100 alumni, UM faculty members and donors in attendance. The new facility will also house the university’s fundraising arm in the UM Foundation, and the Global Leadership Initiative.

Engstrom called the new executive training program and the facility that will house it an investment in the state’s economic vitality. It was a sentiment echoed by Kate McGoldrick, the executive director of the university’s new executive training and entrepreneurial program.

McGoldrick said the Gilkey family’s support and that of other donors has helped add energy to the university’s innovative spirit, along with its drive to remain at the leading edge of business education in Montana. The new center will train tomorrow’s executive leaders while partnering with key organizations and industries, she said.

“This center of excellence will advance the leadership capabilities of our students, our alumni, the greater Montana business community, and regional and national companies alike,” said McGoldrick. “We’ll create real value for those organizations and its leaders who are hungry to learn from UM’s top-notch teaching and research so they can lead in this increasingly complex global business environment.”

The Gilkeys and their extended family sat for Thursday’s event – a family now representing several generations that starts at the top with Priscilla and Herold Gilkey. The elder Gilkeys are both UM graduates and successful executives who trace their beginning back to lemonade stands and their Montana education.

“It was here on the UM campus where Herold and I developed our appreciation and gratitude for lifelong learning,” said Priscilla. “It was here where the faculty and its programs gave us the solid education that we got, which was the catalyst and springboard that enabled us to go forward in our prospective careers.”

The new facility, designed by Great Falls architect L’Heureux Page Werner and constructed by Quality Construction of Missoula, earned gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The structure, finished with brick and Romanesque columns, stands two stories tall with a full basement, a classroom with amphitheater seating and a “networking bistro.” It’s also wired with the latest technology and uses 24 percent less energy than a conventional building of its size.IMG_4962

As many as 129 donors joined the Gilkeys and the university in providing funding to underwrite construction of the project, which was privately funded at a cost of roughly $9.5 million.

“As we dedicate this building, I’m thinking about all the 7 year-old girls and boys who will grow up, become adults, and one day be in this building, taking classes in executive education, leadership and entrepreneurial development so they too can realize their dreams right here on the UM campus, and right here in the beautiful state of Montana,” Priscilla said.

Harold Gilkey is a 1962 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration. He retired as chairman and CEO of Sterling Financial Corp. Priscilla Gilkey is also a 1962 UM graduate who retired as vice president of community relations for Empire Health Services in Spokane.

The family, along with Engstrom, praised retiring business school Dean Larry Gianchetta for thinking big when the concept was in the early stages of development.

“To remain relevant in today’s competitive market for business education, we have an imperative to build robust partnerships with – and create value for – business organizations and their leaders,” Gianchetta said. “I’m grateful for Harold and Priscilla for the opportunity to build a world-class executive education facility at UM.”