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'Gianforte Hall' naming approved by Montana Board of Regents

Posted at 10:46 AM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 12:53:10-04

HAVRE - The Montana Board of Regents voted Thursday in support of the request to name the home for the School of Computing on the Montana State University campus in Bozeman, ‘Gianforte Hall’.

“A gift of this magnitude would be a transformative opportunity for any discipline, but when you’re talking about computer science—that is the realm for the future,” Waded Cruzado, President of Montana State University said.

The Gianforte Family Foundation donated $50 Million to construct a physical home for the Gianforte School of Computing. In the past, the Gianforte Family Donation has donated other gifts, such as an $8 million pledge for the School of Computing.

“Governor Gianforte, certainly, he has a long track record—philanthropic track record—of supporting MSU,” Chair Casey Lozar said.

Lozar was the only member of the board to not support the action, explaining that the time was not right, with Gianforte holding the Montana Governor's office.

A policy that the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education states, “property and programs…may not be named…to statewide or federal elected or appointed officials; and candidates for elected statewide or federal office who have announced or filed for office.”

Some that spoke at the public listening session cited this policy as a reason to not name the building ‘Gianforte Hall’. Regent Brianne Rogers notes the public comment and further explains an exception.

“I wanted to clarify that our policy does include an exception for transformative gifts,” Rogers said, “That term has been essentially undefined…I will be supporting this item because it sets a very high bar of transformative; certainly from the dollar figure space, but also for the future focus degrees and the interdisciplinary system and students to be successful in the jobs for tomorrow,”

During the public listening session on April 27, 2022, a majority of the public comments were against the proposed name. A mixture of students, faculty, alumni, and community members spoke at the meeting which lasted about an hour.

“We the members of the Department of Political Science at Montana State University, here in Bozeman, strongly object to naming the new physical home of the school of computing—Gianforte Hall,” David Parker, Head of the Political Science Department said at the time.

The next step is the planning process for the building, which will likely take a year.

According to a press release from MSU: "The Gianforte Family Foundation has provided significant support to Montana State University for more than 20 years, enabling its computer science program to boost enrollment, award scholarships and provide competitive startup packages to six new faculty members. In 2016, the foundation donated $8 million to Montana State University, which established the Gianforte School of Computing."

“A new building will bring our students state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs, research facilities and innovative collaborative spaces,” said John Paxton, director of the Gianforte School of Computing at Montana State University. “Not only will a new building help our students be more successful, it will also attract more students to study a variety of areas that involve computing technologies, which provide boundless opportunities for graduates, especially those wishing to live and work in Montana.”