MISSOULA — An announcement at Montana State University on Monday sent shockwaves through the collegiate nursing community.
A gift of $101 million was given to the MSU College of Nursing on behalf of the founders of Goosehead Insurance, Mark and Robyn Jones.
It's a record setting donation, and one that will offer opportunities for students in Missoula. Campus director for Missoula’s branch of MSU’s College of Nursing Dale Mayer is still beaming from the news a whole day later.
In recalling her reaction to Monday’s news, she said, “Just speechless, like, couldn't fathom a number that large, couldn't, couldn't even comprehend it at that moment, and what that means.”
The MSU College of Nursing has housed a program in Missoula since 1976, making it 45-years-old. The program has moved from building to building, but currently occupies Corbin Hall.
Missoula’s branch of the program boasts of 130 undergrad students, a handful of accelerated BSN students, and an online graduate program, but the temporary home for these students is bursting at the seams.
“Our space in historic Corbin Hall was not built for classroom space,” said Mayer.
The donation will provide funding for new facilities at each of the MSU College of Nursing’s five campuses, including Missoula. New facilities will be equipped with modern classrooms and state-of-the-art simulation labs.
The donation will also reach beyond the classroom.
“It will positively impact the health of Montanans all across the state, especially in the rural communities where there are health professional shortage areas,” said Mayer,
“They don't have the providers out in those rural communities that we are lucky enough to have in Missoula, so that's where we will educate our nurse practitioners and our BSN prepared nurses to go and work, go back to where they grew up and bring healthcare to that vulnerable population that's out there.”
If there was ever a time to put the spotlight on nursing, Mayer said that time is now.
“We did not expect there would be a worldwide pandemic in 2020, but that pandemic has really highlighted the importance of nurses and the care they provide.”
The donation will also establish five endowed faculty professorships, develop a scholarship fund for future students, and create Montana’s only certified nurse midwifery program.
That’s all thanks to the generous donation of Mark and Robyn Jones -- both Montanans.