Montana Tech Alumnus Donates to Student Success Center in Honor of Dr. Tom Finch

Montana Tech alumnus Jeff Stibbard and his wife Brenda have made a gift in the amount of $100,000 to Montana Tech to name a study room in Montana Tech’s Student Success and Living & Learning Center (SSC) after the late Dr. Tom Finch, who was a long-time faculty member and department head in the Mining Engineering Department at Montana Tech.

Dr. Finch began his long career as an educator when he took a position as assistant professor of mining engineering at the Montana School of Mines in 1966. Finch left Montana Tech for a few years but returned due to his love of the West. He was promoted to associate professor in 1976 and full professorship in 1983. Tom was named the Ingersoll-Rand, Utah Professor in 1983, and in 1996, was named the Newmont Mining Professor. He served as department head of the Mining Department from 1981-1988. Dr. Finch passed away on March 17, 2013.

The study room will be located on the 3rd floor of the new SSC on the Montana Tech campus and will be known as the Dr. Tom Finch Group Study Room. The SSC will be a place for students to learn and study, to relax and play. When completed, this new building will become the heart of campus. The 25,000-square-foot facility will complete the student life experience on campus, providing an inspiring environment for students to live, dine, socialize, cultivate valuable leadership skills, and forge lifelong friendships. The SSC will assist Montana Tech in recruiting, retaining, educating, and graduating more problem-solvers, innovators, healers, trailblazers, and leaders.

“Our irreplaceable Tom always focused on the success of the students by encouraging each of them to not only complete their education, but to find a fitting career after graduation,” noted the Finch Family. “He valued hard work more than perfect grades, and this room in his name is an appropriate legacy to his focus on student success. He would have modestly deflected the recognition and truly appreciated that the honor was bestowed from a student. His concern and affection for his students was understated and sincere. Tom’s family thanks Jeff and Brenda for their most generous gift in Tom’s name and memory.”

Jeff, a 1987 Montana Tech mining engineering alumnus, and wife Brenda are great supporters and advocates for Montana Tech. Jeff is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of JDS Energy & Mining Inc., a mid-tier mine evaluation, design, construction and operating company with several related surrogates, employing in excess of 150 professionals. Brenda works in Community Development for JDS which is headquartered out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

“On behalf of the many Montana Tech Alumni who form a large part of our JDS Energy & Mining Inc. Team, we are proud to be a sponsor of the Dr. Tom Finch Group Study Room at Montana Tech,” said Jeff Stibbard. “Tom was a transformative force, leader and inspiration in my life and career in the Mining business. In addition to being a great mining instructor with relevant practical knowledge of mining, Tom treated our Canadian contingent with good humored impudence and irreverence, that went a long way in preparing us for the competitive international mining industry.”

Stibbard added, “There is no doubt if there was no Tom Finch in my life at the time I would not have pushed through my time at Montana Tech. Like many of my colleagues here, we all continue to benefit from our early Finch – Butte experience, and we look forward to working with many more Montana Tech mining grads in the future. Although they will not have the direct experience we had, hopefully in a small way they, (and their faculty members) will have the chance to learn of the character of the man, and as a result help to keep the program real and moving forward. My wife Brenda and I, our sons, and company are grateful and honored to be a part of this ongoing legacy facility. Thank you for allowing us to participate.”

“Jeff and Brenda are true Orediggers,” noted Joe McClafferty, President of the Montana Tech Foundation. “They understand the importance of honoring those who make an impact on their lives. In this case, they are honoring a great man and educator Dr. Tom Finch. Montana Tech was built on the outstanding work of faculty, who become life mentors, difference-makers, and inspire our students to lead extraordinary lives. Dr. Finch was that exact faculty member. We are thrilled his legacy will forever be displayed in the SSC.”

For more information about the SSC, please visit or contact the Montana Tech Foundation at 406-496-4276.