Montana State University

Mountains and Minds


Foundations for success October 13, 2010 by Melynda Harrison • Published 10/13/10

Montana's agriculture community has proven that you don't have to be a millionaire to make a difference - you just have to care.
  • Page 1 of 1
Montana's agriculture community has proven that you don't have to be a millionaire to make a difference--you just have to care.

When Montana State University's new Animal Bioscience Building opens its doors this fall, it will do so because of an array of private donors whose gifts range in size.

For example, more than 40 donations came from a group calling themselves the 40 Cool Cats (see accompanying story, page 57). Each Cool Cat donated $250. Collectively, the Cool Cats' donations totaled exactly $10,000, which earned the group a spot in the Ranchers Circle that recognizes the 141 ranches, businesses and individuals who each committed $10,000 or more to the ABB. All members of the Ranchers Circle are recognized on a donor wall in the building, a veritable "Who's Who" of Montana family ranches.

"To have 141 ranchers and businesses be part of the Ranchers Circle is phenomenal," said Taylor Brown, an MSU graduate who is a Montana state senator, president of the Northern Ag Network and a member of the Ranchers Circle. Brown and Jim Peterson, formerly of the College of Agriculture, served as co-heads of fundraising efforts.

The Animal Bioscience Building is one of three new or renovated buildings that opened to MSU students this fall. The ABB and a renovated Gaines Hall will move students into the future, preparing them for careers in a plethora of fields.

In addition, Hamilton Hall was recently renovated and Cooley Laboratory will soon be renovated.
All of these facilities will play an important role in the education of countless students.

The Animal Bioscience Building and Gaines Hall are predominately for instructional use. They use new and efficient technology and were built in an environmentally responsible manner.

Although work on the buildings took just two years, they were decades in the making. The ABB was talked about for 30 years in the College of Agriculture. Gaines Hall had been on Facilities Services' to-be-funded list for 22 years.

Animal Bioscience Building

The new Animal Bioscience Building offers space, technology and tools to prepare animal and range sciences students for careers in animal sciences, wildlife management, natural resource conservation and restoration, research, the equine industry, ranch and range management, land stewardship and more.

Forty very Cool Cats help launch new Animal Bioscience Building
Read more
The 40,000-square-foot ABB offers state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories for instruction and research to more than 250 animal science and natural resources/rangeland ecology students.

"We wanted to create a facility that reflects the high quality of our students and their value as Montana's future in agriculture," said Jeff Jacobsen, dean of the College of Agriculture.

"This building makes history on the MSU campus, because when it opened, it was not only totally paid for and debt-free, but about 50 percent of its funding came from the private donations from more than 500 ranchers, families, groups and agri-businesses," said Bret Olson, interim animal and range sciences department head. "Like never before, the livestock industry has come together to provide a truly remarkable facility for MSU."

"This new facility will attract new faculty members that will benefit our students," said Charlene Rich, executive director of the Montana Beef Council. "Since the cattle industry sells about 2 million head of cattle each year and MSU students are the future of Montana ag, we will all benefit from a great research institution."

The facility includes classrooms, teaching laboratories, research facilities, and faculty and staff offices. The Technology Transfer Room, paid for with donations from the members of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, allows collaboration between MSU faculty and other universities and tribal colleges around the world through video conferencing. MSU faculty will be able to teach classes to other locations without leaving campus.

"Being able to broadcast lectures and bring in lectures expands our campus for our students," Jacobsen said.


Until the ABB was built, animal and range sciences classes were scattered throughout Linfield Hall, Leon Johnson Hall and other buildings around campus, making collaboration difficult. In addition, lab equipment and facilities were antiquated.

Students and faculty won't be the only ones benefitting from the new building.

"Ranchers, farmers and other donors have a real ownership in this building that is beyond financial," Jacobsen said. "When they come to Bozeman they will have a place to use that is theirs."

The ABB will be paired with a second building that will complement the instructional ABB through agriculture-related research and enhance MSU's strong reputation in the global agriculture industry. This second building will be built and paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service about a year after full federal appropriation.

Gaines Hall

Beginning this fall, a majority of undergraduates at MSU will take a class in the new Gaines Hall, which has been transformed from an antiquated building that was completely gutted and rebuilt into a state-of-the-art teaching facility.

"This building will be one of our premier instructional facilities," said Joe Fedock, MSU interim provost. "We want our students to have a great place to study, meet and attend classes. This building is for them."

New and renovated facilities help MSU build student success
Read more
In addition to a new 300-seat lecture hall, chemistry labs and modern language lab, the 80,000 square foot building will be home to biochemistry, geochemistry, biology, physics and earth sciences laboratories and university studies. Adjunct instructors, undergraduate advisors, chemistry teaching assistants and the modern languages department will be housed there.

Gaines Hall, built in 1961, was named after P.C. Gaines, who worked 43 years in the chemistry department, was a master teacher and served four times as acting president of MSU. Gaines will be the first LEED-certified building on campus. LEED refers to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the internationally recognized certification of the U.S. Green Building Council.
The facilities in the old Gaines Hall were obsolete and bordering on unsafe, according to David Singel, head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

"There is a much more modern way of teaching laboratory sciences," Singel said. "The new facility will help our students keep pace with the frontier of research."

Students in the Department of Earth Sciences will benefit from new laboratory teaching facilities for mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, geomorphology and a state-of-the-art facility for the study of drill cores from oil and gas wells. Students can move from a geology laboratory to the new geo-applications computer laboratory to perform computations based upon field specimens.

Additionally, the Varricchio Family Paleontology Preparation Laboratory will have new equipment allowing students to prepare specimens and conduct experiments. David Varricchio is an associate professor of paleontology and his father, Philip, provided financial support for paleontology education and research at MSU, including the purchase of specialized equipment for the new lab.

Between the classrooms and laboratories, common spaces provide room for students to gather for study groups and informal learning.

"These are comfortable places for peer to peer contact," Singel said. "They are places where students will learn from each other and help each other."

The $32.5 million building was finished well within budget, said Karen Hedglin, project manager. It was funded with appropriations from the 2005 and 2007 Montana Legislatures and was championed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer and local legislators.

"It's a spectacular new building that really reflects the quality of education we provide our students," Hedglin said.

The view isn't bad either. From different aspects in the building, students will be able to gaze across campus and at several mountain ranges.

"Doing chemistry and looking at the Spanish Peaks from the third floor--there is no better place that encapsulates 'Mountains and Minds'," Singel said.