Julianne Bye's bequest for political science scholarship

students walking on campusJulianne Bye knew for many years that she wanted to leave a lasting legacy for students at Montana State. "I always knew I would—in fact I wish I had done it sooner," said Julianne, from her home in Minnesota. For her, the opportunity to return to campus and reconnect with the political science department was extremely motivating. "It was inspiring to hear their passion for learning, and the dedication they had for Montana and their students."

In 2013, Julianne committed a charitable bequest of $100,000 from her estate to the Montana State University Foundation to establish the Political Science Scholarship. The endowed scholarship will support undergraduate students in the department in perpetuity. "I made the gift because I believe that everyone should have access to college opportunities—for the education you receive but also for the friendships and the growing up one does at college. The benefits continue for a lifetime." She also hoped her announcement would inspire others to do the same.

Julianne said she has a great deal of pride and satisfaction knowing the lasting impact her gift will make for future generations of students. But she also emphasizes that philanthropy is not about making one big gift, but making the first gift. "I would encourage others to start the journey of philanthropy and experience the joy of giving. Any amount changes someone's life."

Julianne was always motivated by the transformative effects of education. She grew up outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where her grandfather helped found, and was superintendent of, the Anoka-Hennepin School District. Her father was also a teacher and successful coach in the area for many years. She recalls the great sense of pride they had for their work, a passion which laid the foundation for her commitment to education and philanthropy today.

She sought out Montana State for its strong academic reputation and the opportunities to be involved and gain experiences she might not have had at a larger school. Julianne was very active on campus during her time at MSU as a member of Pi Beta Phi, the Spurs, and a variety of service and leadership roles. She credits her successful career to the foundational education she received in the political science department, as well as to excellent mentors like Dean of Students Marjory Paisley who "always made us realize we could do better."

With this strong foundation Julianne soon became a change-agent for local government in Montana. After graduation, she helped spearhead the creation of the Charter of the City of Billings in 1976 and the city commission government they use today. She then returned to Minnesota and continued to work in state and local politics and city planning for many years. She earned her Masters in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas, and ultimately took over operations of National Benefits Group, her family's retirement benefiting company, where she worked for the next 20 years. Today Julianne is active in the nonprofit sector, working as a senior development director for the YWCA of Minneapolis, and continues to be involved in local government and planning in addition to her ongoing commitment to philanthropy.

Julianne urges others who are considering a bequest to Montana State to reach out to the Montana State University Foundation. "The staff at the Foundation are so wonderful. Do not be afraid to ask a question, they are there to help."

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