Fund for Experience One Receives $250,000 Gift

Inspired by their commitment to higher education, Steve and Gretchen Burke have provided a generous gift to the University of Montana Western in support of the Fund for Experience One. This fund was established in 2015 by Chancellor Beth Weatherby and her husband, Dr. Steve Kramer, in celebration of Montana Western’s ten-year anniversary of the implementation of Experience One.


This recent gift from the Burkes in the amount of $250,000, along with additional gifts that have been received since 2015, will be utilized to endow the fund into perpetuity and provide current use funding.

Montana Western transitioned to Experience One over fifteen years ago and the results have been extraordinary. The Fund for Experience One supports faculty in strengthening curricular and co-curricular offerings by providing funding for authentic student experiences. Montana Western is the only U.S. public four-year university offering Experience One, a program where students take a single course at a time and learn by doing. “We are deeply grateful for Steve and Gretchen’s investment in our university and Experience One,” says UMW Chancellor Beth Weatherby. “The Burkes have made an impact on our campus that will be felt by our faculty and students for many years. Their investment in innovative experiential education will give our students an advantage as they move into the work-force or continue to graduate school.”

This gift was announced to campus at the onset of the academic year in order to distribute funds for the fall 2020 semester. Three awards were provided in the fall and faculty are preparing to submit proposals for the spring semester.

The Burkes have been life-long proponents of higher education and feel fortunate to be able to show their support of Chancellor Weatherby and Montana Western. “We were inspired to provide a gift in support of Experience One. We are true believers that education makes opportunities possible. Support of an innovative educational model such as Experience One is an exciting investment,” said Gretchen Burke.

Students will be the clear beneficiaries of this philanthropic support. In addition to providing student-centered experiential learning opportunities, the Fund for Experience One will augment departmental funding and help hold student course fees to a minimum.

Read more about the unique opportunities of Experience One at umwestern.edu/stories/.

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