The University of Montana Health and Medicine Initiative received a $1 million gift on Thursday to jumpstart education to health providers in Montana.

UM College of Health Professionals and Biomedical Sciences Reed Humphrey kicked off the press conference by stating that Montana will need approximately 16,000 new healthcare workers in the next decade as baby boomers retire from the workforce and will require more health care for themselves.

UM President Seth Bodnar made the announcement at a press conference in the Skaggs Building on the UM campus.

“I get to share with all of you that the Madrona Hill Foundation has committed $1 million to support UM’s Health and Medicine Initiative,” Bodnar said. “Missoula is Montana’s second largest city, and we have tremendous healthcare facilities in this city, and here at the University of Montana we have a real world class research university. The intersection of those three things in one location is a tremendous opportunity.”

Bodnar then introduced Mike and Cheryl Burnham who made the $1 million gift through the Madrona Hill Foundation.

“Cheryl was a pharmacy student here and graduated back in 1986, and that’s probably why we started to seek out how we could empower the university to be better,” said Burnham. “We started our philanthropic gifts to the university back in 2007 through the Madrona Hill Foundation, and helped to found the I-Pharma program which helps to fund care to rural Montana. So, I had a conversation with Reed and asked him ‘Say we give you a million dollars, what would you do with it? Here it is 18 months later and now this gift will help provide investments in UMHM (UM Health and Medicine) for the next five years.”

Key initiatives include the creation new health care professional training programs and funding to attract and support students in the health professions.