The University of Montana now has its first endowed dean’s position thanks to two UM Alumni. The new School of Business Administration Endowed Dean’s Chair was made possible through a big donation by Mark Burnham and Eric Sprunk, who graduated from the School of Business back in the mid-80s. Since then, Sprunk now works as the Chief Operating Officer for Nike, and Burnham works as the director of finance for Hawthorn Retirement Group. Sprunk said that Burnham came up with the idea.

"Mark asked if I would be willing to write a check for $1 million in which case, I said, 'I will if you will.' So today we are announcing that each of us are contributing $1 million to the Endowed Dean's Chair," Sprunk said. "Job one: Get a world-class leader to run this amazing business school. Job two: Give them the financial flexibility and optionality to do what he or she thinks is necessary."

The current dean of the business school is Larry Gianchetta, who will be retiring in June. Burnham said a strong leader is important and that he wants UM to get the best person for the job.

"I've been in business a long time and I think it all starts from the top," Burnham said. "For the business school to retain and grow its position as one of the better business schools in the region and in the county, we need to have a good leader. Leadership is the key. We wanted to step forward and say, 'We're serious about this.'"

The gift is also on behalf of the families of the Sprunk’s and the Burnham’s. Eric’s son Cooper Sprunk is currently enrolled in the Business school and plays for the Griz. The Burnham’s have had more than a dozen family members graduate from UM. Both families hope that their donations will help inspire others to give as well.