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Former Halliburton CEO, wife donate to Montana Tech nursing program

| October 26, 2021 11:15 AM

BUTTE (AP) — A former CEO of Halliburton and his wife have donated $7 million to the nursing program at Montana Tech.

The gift from Dave and Sherry Lesar, who live part-time in Whitefish, is the largest single gift in the history of the university, Chancellor Les Cook said Monday.

Funds from the endowed gift will be used to provide student scholarships, professional development for faculty and leadership training. The school plans to offer a master's degree in nursing education in the next five to seven years, Cook said.

The donation will also support the operation of the Lesar Family Nursing Simulation Center on campus, which is scheduled to open in January. The high-tech simulation center will help nurses train in different scenarios with medical manikins.

Montana Tech is seeking Board of Regents approval to change the name of the nursing school to the Sherry Lesar School of Nursing.

Dave Lesar was CEO of Halliburton from 2000 to 2017 and is now CEO of CenterPoint Energy. The couple donated $1 million to Montana Tech in 2016 to establish the Stan and Joyce Lesar Professorship, in honor of Dave Lesar's parents. The endowment supports programming and research to enhance Tech's ability to develop and responsibly use natural resources.

“But not wanting to stop at endowing a chair, we asked ourselves, how can we help more?” Sherry Lesar said Monday. “From that came funding for the simulation center, about to be finished.”

“Now we’d like to help the nursing school reach yet another level," she continued. "The greater amount of students who stay here in Montana to study nursing, the better. And we expect to attract more and more out-of-state students as well. When that happens it will put Montana Tech nursing on the map, as it should be.”

The couple live in Houston, but have a home in Whitefish, where Sherry Lesar serves on the Whitefish Community Foundation. Dave's father immigrated to East Helena after being forced out of what was then communist Yugoslavia at the end of World War II, Tech officials have said.

The news at Montana Tech comes less than two months after Mark and Robyn Jones, who also live in Texas and also have a home in Whitefish, donated $101 million to the nursing program at Montana State University to increase the number of nursing students who can graduate each year.