News & Features

Whitefish Family Donates $2 Million to FVCC College Center Project

Pledge from Al and Lisa Stinson comes on the heels of Paul Wachholz’s $4 million gift

Flathead Valley Community College announced today that Al and Lisa Stinson of Whitefish have pledged $2 million through the Stinson Family Foundation to support the construction of a new College Center on campus.

The news comes less than a month after the college announced that local businessman Paul Wachholz had pledged $4 million toward the project.

The College Center is part of FVCC’s ONE Campaign, a privately funded philanthropic effort “to better serve students and the community with the addition of new spaces for learning, creativity and innovation,” the college stated in a press release.

“We are greatly appreciative of this incredible gift from the Stinson family and their continued commitment to the importance of education in our community,” FVCC President Jane Karas said. “Their gift will positively impact many lives.”

The 50,000-square-foot center will include a performance and lecture hall, a multi-purpose activity complex with two full basketball courts, an outdoor amphitheater and a reception hall with an exhibition gallery. The performance hall will serve as the home of Glacier Symphony. Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2019, and the facility is expected to open in the fall of 2020.

In addition to the College Center, the ONE Campaign includes the construction of a new library and learning commons adjacent to the existing Rebecca Chaney Broussard Center for Nursing and Health Science. FVCC will break ground on the library and learning commons this spring and plans to open it next spring semester.

The campaign’s overall goal is to raise $18 million, and the Stinsons’ gift is the third in a series of major contributions. The Broussard family pledged $2.5 million toward the library and learning commons, followed by Wachholz’s $4 million pledge College Center donation.

“The scope of the project is tremendous,” Al Stinson said in a press release. “It’s an evolution that has to take place for the college to continue to meet the needs of the growing community.”

Stinson has been a board member of the FVCC Foundation since 2011, and he says he values the accessibility that community colleges provide to all students.

“Going to a four-year school is financially out of reach for many people,” he said. “FVCC is critical to meeting the needs of education for so many of our local high school students who can’t go to the big schools.”

Stinson grew up on a farm in Texas as the son of two teachers, an upbringing that helped shape his views on the importance of community.

“My parents were always involved in community activities, and they got me involved,” Stinson said. “Over the years, by luck or skill, I’ve been very successful, and I have a theory that you need to give back to the community.”

For more information about the ONE Campaign or to make a charitable gift in support of the campaign, visit www.fvcc.edu/one or contact FVCC Foundation Executive Director Colleen Unterreiner at (406) 756-3914 or colleen@fvcc.edu.