Stibbards Donate to Montana Tech Student Success Center

Montana Tech alumnus Jeff Stibbard and wife Brenda have made a donation to Montana Tech’s Student Success Center (SSC). The gift of $100,000 will name a room in the Academic Center for Excellence within the SSC after long-time Montana Tech faculty member Dr. H. Peter Knudsen.

Dr. Knudsen served as Department Head of Mining Engineering at Montana Tech from 1998 through 2005 and Dean of the School of Mines and Engineering from 1996 until retirement in 2017. He taught at Montana Tech for 36 years and at the University of Arizona for four years. He also oversaw the Montana Tech band during his years at Montana Tech. Dr. Knudsen has a M.S. and Ph.D. in Mining Engineering from the University of Arizona and a BS in Geological Engineering from Montana Tech.

pete-knudsen.jpgThe Dr. Pete Knudsen Training Room will be located on the 3rd floor of the SSC inside the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE). The goal of ACE is to assist and empower students to succeed and excel academically, persist through graduation, prepare for graduate and professional endeavors, and develop an appreciation for lifelong learning.

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.

“Pete has been a terrific friend and mentor for both Brenda and I,” explained Jeff. “Not only did he put up with my irreverent behavior when I attended Montana Tech in the 80's, he has tirelessly assisted us to enroll and engage all similar young Canadian students we have sent his way. Pete ensured that all our candidates achieved success, through his no nonsense yet compassionate way.”

The SSC will be completed in spring 2019 and will be a place for students to learn and study, to relax and play. The 25,000-square-foot facility will serve as the heart of campus. The SSC will assist Montana Tech in recruiting, retaining, educating, and graduating more problem-solvers, innovators, healers, trailblazers, and leaders.

This is the second donation towards the SSC from the Stibbards. In December of 2017, they donated $100,000 to name a study room after the late Dr. Tom Finch, a long-time faculty member and department head in the Mining Engineering Department at Montana Tech.

Jeff added, “Pete deserves a lot of credit for producing some of our best young practical, engaged and community-minded engineering staff in JDS Energy and Mining. I am sure that the Pete Knudsen Training Room will serve to keep his legacy alive at Montana Tech, just as we will carry it on by continuing to send young engineering students from Canada to Montana Tech to experience and benefit from the program and delivery that he had a great role in developing. Brenda and I look forward to the final completion of the facility and the ongoing dedication of Montana Tech to produce the necessary, practical engineers that the mining business of today desperately requires.”

“I am humbled by this generous gift from Jeff and Brenda. I am full of pride knowing that they are giving back to Montana Tech in this incredible way,” said Knudsen. “I have had a great relationship with Jeff and Brenda since Jeff was a student and have enjoyed watching their mining business grow and thrive. Their generosity is going to be felt by so many Montana Tech students.” The Stibbards have comprehensively supported the campus through gifts to the mining department, the Underground Mining Education Center, the Mining team, and the International Mining Competition. Knudsen added, “The Stibbards are passionate about natural resource development which they are sharing and passing on to the over 25 students they have recruited, cared for, and sent to Montana Tech.”

“Dr. Knudsen’s name on the training room in our Academic Center of Excellence on campus is a perfect match,” explained Joe McClafferty, President of the Montana Tech Foundation. “Pete never stops educating and is a champion for learning agility and graduating problem solvers into the world. His impacts at Montana Tech and in industry will ripple into perpetuity. We are so thankful to Jeff and Brenda for their incredible generosity and passion. The Stibbards look at everything in life as an opportunity to strive for success and make the world a better place. Their enthusiasm is infectious and we are proud to call them Orediggers.”

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