MSU announces $50 million gift from the Gianforte Family Foundation to advance computer science, electrical and computer engineering, cybersecurity, optics and photonics, and the creative industries

MSU NEWS SERVICE

Montana State University announced a $50 million gift from the Gianforte Family Foundation on Feb. 25, continuing more than 20 years of philanthropy at the university. The donation from the Gianforte Family Foundation is dedicated to the construction of a new building to house the Gianforte School of Computer Science and computer-related fields such as cybersecurity, optics and photonics, electrical and computer engineering and the creative industries. The donation is the second-largest in the university’s history and is one of the largest philanthropic donations in Montana history.

Over the years, the Gianforte Family Foundation has provided extensive support to Montana State University, enabling its computer science program to increase enrollment, award scholarships, and provide start-up packages. competitions to six new faculty members. In 2016, the foundation donated $8 million to Montana State University, which established the Gianforte School of Computing.

The new building will significantly benefit students in the high-demand field of computing and its technology-related creative industries, said John Paxton, director of the Gianforte School of Computing at Montana State University.

“A new building will provide our students with innovative, state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs, research facilities and collaboration spaces,” Paxton said. “Not only will a new building help our students be more successful, but it will also attract more students to study a variety of fields involving computer technologies, which provide unlimited opportunities for graduates, especially those wishing to live and work in the Montana.”

Having one building will help foster cross-disciplinary opportunities for students and faculty, Paxton continued, as Gianforte School of Computing staff are currently dispersed across five buildings. It will also continue to build dual-enrollment computer science class opportunities for Montana high school students.

“This building will be a huge benefit to our students as well as the state’s rapidly growing high-tech industry, which needs more graduates with technology and digital skills,” Paxton said.

In addition to IT, the building will also house classrooms for high school students to take dual-enrolment courses and learn about the many complementary fields that rely on IT, such as electrical and computer engineering. , cybersecurity, optics and photonics. This facility will also help future students engage in technology-driven creative industries supporting interdisciplinary teaching and research in animation, film production, digital photography, and music technology. .

Computer science graduates are in high demand in Montana and nationally. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of computer and information researchers is expected to grow 22% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. A 2021 report from the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research found that members of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance expected to create 1,500 jobs in 2021 and that “projected growth in member high-tech companies and non-members significantly outpaces the statewide average economic growth. growth.”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, national average salaries for computer science graduates jumped 7.1% last year to $72,000.

“The Gianforte Family Foundation has demonstrated a tangible commitment to advancing student interests and education at Montana State University consistently,” said Montana State University President, Waded Cruzado. “This gift will continue that commitment in an unprecedented way, allowing us to significantly expand our complementary computer science and interdisciplinary offerings, putting Montana State on the map as one of the nation’s leading computer science universities. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the Gianforte Family Foundation.

“We are very pleased to support Montana State University’s computer science program for more than two decades,” said Susan Gianforte, trustee of the Gianforte Family Foundation. “The school staff and management have developed it to the point where a building is the next logical step, and we couldn’t be happier to help achieve this goal. This will provide students with many opportunities to learn, grow, and prepare to enter the job market of today and tomorrow.

“The mission of the Gianforte Family Foundation is to support organizations that empower people to improve their lives in a lasting way,” said Chris Murray, president and CEO of the Montana State University Alumni Foundation. “The Gianforte Family Foundation’s desire to construct a new building to house the School of Computing is a natural extension of their support for students in this field, helping them obtain an excellent education and strengthening our local economy, national and national.”

Montana State University’s Gianforte School of Computing offers many computer science-related degrees to students. A student can earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Bachelor of Arts, Masters, Doctorate, or Minor. In partnership with other MSU academic units, a student can obtain a minor in data science, a minor in computer science education, or a master’s degree in data science. The school also introduced dual-enrollment classes for high school students in Montana through prior collaboration with Bozeman High School. More information is available online at cs.montana.edu.

“The Gianforte Family Foundation deeply believes in the power of education to transform student lives,” said Brett Gunnink, Dean of Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering where the Gianforte School of Computing is administratively housed. “They have been strong supporters of our program and our students. We are very grateful for this wonderful gift which helped take the program to a new level.

In recognition of the significance of the gift, Montana State University will begin the process to have the new building named Gianforte Hall after notifying the Montana Board of Regents at its March 10-11 meeting. The university will initiate a process to seek public comment, as described in Board of Regents policy 1004.1, on the naming proposal. After giving the public an opportunity to comment, a proposed name for the new building will be presented to the Board of Directors for review and final decision at a future meeting.

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