Montana State University

Gianforte Family Foundation to give MSU $1 million in effort to boost numbers of computer science graduates for Montana tech industry

March 2, 2015 -- MSU News Service

The Gianforte Family Foundation will give $1 million to Montana State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science Department in an effort to help educate and graduate greater numbers of computer science majors. Brendan Mumey, MSU computer science professor, is pictured on the right with Sean Yaw, a doctoral student in computer science. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.Greg Gianforte discusses the Gianforte Family Foundation's $1 million gift for Montana State University's College of Engineering and Computer Science Department to help educate and graduate greater numbers of computer science majors during a press conference at MSU on March 2. The gift, secured through the MSU Alumni Foundation, earmarks $500,000 for three faculty positions in computer science and $500,000 to increase space for those teaching and studying the computer sciences. MSU Photo by Sepp Jannotta.

The Gianforte Family Foundation will give $1 million to Montana State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science Department in an effort to help educate and graduate greater numbers of computer science majors. Brendan Mumey, MSU computer science professor, is pictured on the right with Sean Yaw, a doctoral student in computer science. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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Greg Gianforte announced today that The Gianforte Family Foundation will give $1 million to Montana State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science Department in an effort to help educate and graduate greater numbers of computer science majors. The gift, secured through the MSU Alumni Foundation, earmarks $500,000 for three faculty positions in computer science and $500,000 to increase space for those teaching and studying the computer sciences.

"Our Montana kids have an unmatched work ethic, but we're not preparing enough of them to go to work in our fast-growing high tech sector,” said Gianforte, who with his wife, Susan, founded RightNow Technologies. “ I, for one, do not want to have to get on an airplane to visit my future grandkids. Our gift will give Montana State University students more opportunity to pursue computer science and to fill the high-paying job opportunities without leaving Montana. " 

The gift’s $500,000 committed for faculty will establish the Gianforte Faculty Fellows program and will support the recruitment and retention of computer science professors - allowing MSU to grow its capacity to develop more computer sciences graduates. The gift will provide funding for the partial start-up and salary expenses of three faculty positions.  After three years, the university will assume the full costs of supporting these faculty positions.  

The additional $500,000 initiates the Gianforte Computer Science Student Space Expansion Fund with resources aimed at increasing the teaching and learning spaces devoted to computer science students and faculty at MSU.

John Paxton, MSU Computer Science Department head, said the Gianforte gift enables computer science at MSU to better prepare growing numbers of students while boosting awareness about the merits of a computing education.

“Computational thinking abilities are in such demand throughout the state of Montana, and this gift allows MSU to continue delivering the cutting-edge computing education Montana students need and deserve,” Paxton said. “Furthermore, the gift shines a spotlight on the economic benefit derived from investing in a strong computer science program and values the impact that MSU can have on the state of Montana.”

Brett Gunnink, dean of MSU’s College of Engineering, said the gift supports Montana high school students interested in computing.

This gift to MSU will accommodate the rising interest among high school graduates wanting to pursue computer science degrees and prepare them to become a part of Montana’s growing pool of high-tech professionals and entrepreneurs,” Gunnink said.

ABOUT THE MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNI FOUNDATION:  The Montana State University Alumni Foundation is a private nonprofit corporation with three subsidiary organizations serving alumni and friends, donors and partners through one mission: “We create lifelong relationships and strengthen our resources to advance Montana State University.”

Contact: Tom Griffin, tom.griffin@msuaf.org or 406-994-4157