BOZEMAN – Montana State University will hold a public listening session on a proposal to name a new $50 million building to house the MSU Gianforte School of Computing as Gianforte Hall.
The listening session on the naming proposal will be from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, in the Strand Union Building, Room 235, on the MSU campus in accordance with Montana Board of Regents policy 1004.1.
In February, Montana State University announced a $50 million gift from the Gianforte Family Foundation for the construction of 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 such as film, photography and music technologies. 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.
In recognition of the significance of the gift, the university will propose to the Board of Regents the new building be named Gianforte Hall.
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.”
Having a dedicated building will foster interdisciplinary opportunities for students and faculty. Currently, the Gianforte School of Computing’s personnel are dispersed across five buildings. It will also continue to strengthen opportunities for dual enrollment computer science courses for high school students in Montana.
In addition to computer science, the building will also include classroom space for high school students to take dual enrollment courses and experience 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.
Computer science graduates are in high demand both in Montana and nationally. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 22% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. A 2021 report by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana found that members of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance expected to add 1,500 jobs in 2021 and that “growth projected in member and nonmember high tech businesses significantly exceeds average statewide economic growth.”
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salaries of computer science graduates nationally jumped 7.1% last year to $72,000.
Montana State University's Gianforte School of Computing offers a variety of computing-related credentials to students. A student can earn a computer science Bachelor of Science degree, master’s degree, doctorate or minor. In partnership with other MSU academic units, a student can earn a Bachelor of Arts computer science degree, a data science minor, a computer science teaching minor or a data science master’s degree. The school has also established dual enrollment courses for Montana high school students through a prior collaboration with Bozeman High School. More information is available at cs.montana.edu.
The regents will consider the naming request at their May 18-19 meeting in Havre on the campus of the MSU Northern. A full agenda for the two-day meeting will be available online here: mus.edu/board/meetings/agendas-and-minutes.html.
In addition to the in-person listening session on April 27, public comments on the naming proposal can also be submitted by letter to University Communications, c/o Naming Comments, P.O. Box 172220, Bozeman, MT 59717-2220 or by email to email@example.com.
Comments are due by Monday, May 16, and will be forwarded to the members of the Montana Board of Regents.
Montana University System and MSU policies permit buildings to be named in honor of individuals. The MUS naming policy can be found here: https://mus.edu/borpol/bor1000/1004-1.pdf.