RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105,

An endowment donation gives forever 

BILLINGS, April 12, 2014 –When a gift that generates interest comes to the Rocky Mountain College endowment, it provides a near-eternal source of funds for scholarships, program development, or whatever the donor chooses. Endowment funds generate income in perpetuity from a donation of principal that never gets invaded.

For example, Fromberg, Mont., resident Ernie Schmitt was a field representative for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, a predecessor of the USDA Farm Service Agency. After he retired and traveled abroad and in the Southwest, Mr. Schmitt settled in Fromberg. After an illness, he passed away this year. 

His will graciously gave $15,000 for scholarships for physician assistant students at RMC. RMC Director of Planned Giving Obert Undem consulted with Mr. Schmitt’s attorney to avoid parceling out that entire sum and instead place it into the endowment. It joins a similar endowment sum given by Dr. Leonard Etchart of Billings, a pioneer of the RMC PA program.

Even with historically low interest rates, Mr. Schmitt’s generosity should combine with that of Dr. Etchart to provide a more than $1,000 annual scholarship to support a Master of Physician Assistant Studies student. The scholarship will keep flowing as far into the future as anyone can see.

Schmitt’s niece Karen Adamson of Glendive, Mont., said, “He was a businessman. He was very sharp, even though he was 85 years old.” She believes that his respect for medical education came from his 2008 hip surgery in Billings, “his first experience in the hospital,” when he may have learned about the RMC physician assistant program.

“Here’s an example of a modest gift that’ll touch a lot of people,” said Undem. “If he’d done it when he was younger, he would’ve saved a bundle in taxes over the years by using the Montana charitable gift tax deduction.”

A gift to the endowment keeps giving in perpetuity and strengthens the financial future of students and of RMC alike.