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$50 million gift to MSU from the Gianforte Family
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$50 million gift to MSU from the Gianforte Family

Montana State University recently announced a $50 million gift from the Gianforte Family Foundation, continuing more than 20 years of philanthropy to the university. The Gianforte Family Foundation’s gift is dedicated to constructing a new building to house the Gianforte School of Computing and computing-related fields such as cybersecurity, optics and photonics, electrical and computer engineering, and creative industries. The gift ties for the second largest in the university’s history and is one of the largest philanthropic gifts in the history of Montana.

Over the years, the Gianforte Family Foundation has provided significant support to Montana State University that enabled its computer science program to boost enrollments, 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.

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

“A new building will bring our students state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs, research facilities and innovative collaborative spaces,” Paxton said. “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.”

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

In addition to computer science, the building will also house classrooms for high school students to take dual enrollment courses and get a hands-on taste of the many complementary fields that rely on computer science, such as electrical and computer engineering, cybersecurity, optics and photonics. This facility will also help tomorrow’s students engage with technology-driven creative industries supporting interdisciplinary teaching and research in animation, film production, digital photography and music technology.

“We have been very pleased to support Montana State University’s computer science program for over two decades,” said Susan Gianforte, trustee of the Gianforte Family Foundation. “The school’s staff and leadership have grown it to the point where a building is the logical next step, and we couldn’t be happier to help make that happen. This will provide so many opportunities for students to learn, thrive and be prepared to enter the workforce of today and tomorrow.”

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