Montana State University

Bozeman’s Tim and Mary Barnard pledge $6 million to MSU

February 3, 2016 -- Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

Bozeman residents Tim and Mary Barnard have pledged $6 million to Montana State University for its College of Engineering and planned South Campus development. The gift brings the university to within $3 million of its $70 million goal for the South Campus. Photo courtesy of Tim and Mary Barnard.

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Bozeman residents Tim and Mary Barnard have pledged $6 million to Montana State University for its College of Engineering and planned South Campus development. The gift brings the university to within $3 million of its $70 million goal for the South Campus.                  

Tim Barnard is founder and chairman of Bozeman-based Barnard Companies, Inc., one of the country’s largest heavy civil contracting firms. Tim and Mary Barnard both are known for their generous philanthropy to local organizations.

“Montana is an integral part of our history, formation and culture at Barnard,” Tim Barnard said. “Living, working and studying in Montana usually requires a strong work ethic, treating people with dignity and respect, being friendly, honest and open-minded to others and their ideas, promoting teamwork, and being prepared to travel. Many of our leaders at Barnard learned these values from their educational experience at MSU and, therefore, supporting MSU is important to Barnard.”

MSU President Waded Cruzado said $5 million of the Barnards’ gift will help fund the university’s South Campus, which includes the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center, while $1 million will be earmarked for the College of Engineering.

The gift will benefit students for generations to come, Cruzado said.

“Montana State University is incredibly grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Barnard for the trust they are placing in this university and in the MSU College of Engineering,” Cruzado said. “Thanks to their generosity, students will have the opportunity to learn in state-of-the-art facilities that will be designed to provide collaborative learning environments – learning environments that will give MSU students an edge as they begin their careers.”

The MSU College of Engineering appreciates the Barnards’ long-standing support, and their most recent gift comes at an important time for the college, according to Brett Gunnink, dean of the college.

“I have been privileged to know Tim and Mary for over a decade now, dating back to when I was the civil engineering department head at MSU,” Gunnink said. “Throughout the time I have known them, they have been steadfast in their support of MSU and our College of Engineering. Their most recent gift is enormously helpful and comes at an absolutely critical time for our rapidly growing College of Engineering. As dean, I will be forever grateful for their generosity.”

Tim Barnard, 66, is a native of New Jersey and attended Villanova University, Gonzaga University's Gonzaga-in-Florence program in Italy, and Sophia University in Tokyo. He began working in construction during the summers at the age of 15, initially for his family’s small construction company in New Jersey. Then, inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit he observed in his parents, he moved to Montana in 1975 with $1,000, two shovels, a pick, and all of his worldly possessions in the cab of his old pickup truck to start his own construction business, Barnard Construction Company, Inc. He received a $3,500 loan from his grandmother to cover his first bond on a $17,000 Forest Service project near Hungry Horse, Mont., according to the company’s website. Since then, Barnard Construction has grown into Barnard Companies, a multi-million dollar heavy civil contractor with several divisions. The company is noted for its work on environmental, dams, reservoirs, hydroelectric power, tunnels, oil and gas pipelines and power transmission projects.

Barnard Construction’s recent completed projects include constructing new twin 1.7-mile subway tunnels under downtown San Francisco, strengthening the Gilboa Dam with new spillways for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and adding 83 feet in height to a remote, concrete arch dam and building a new powerhouse for the City and Borough of Sitka, Alaska. Currently, Barnard’s projects include building a new above-ground reservoir for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; managing the continued construction of AMP’s 72 MW Smithland hydroelectric powerhouse, including turbine generator assembly inside a watertight powerhouse designed to be submerged in the Ohio River; working with two joint venture partners, Bechtel and EllisDon, on a seven-year, $1.4 billion generating station project in Gull Rapids, Manitoba; and constructing 61 miles of new transmission line in Southern California that will allow the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to bring renewable energy into its power portfolio. 

Tim Barnard's involvement with MSU dates back to the late 1980s. Since that time, he has established two scholarships in civil engineering and helped fund new faculty for the college's Construction Engineering Technology option. He also received an honorary doctorate from MSU in 2011. In addition, Barnard's company regularly hires MSU graduates; 45 MSU graduates are currently salaried employees at Barnard Companies. In addition, five of the 12 members of the company's executive management team, including both the CEO and president, graduated from MSU.

Tim Barnard has called his philanthropic philosophy community-minded. 

“Everyone adds something to a community, in some way,” Barnard said in a 2003 interview with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “I do what I can do and hope that it helps. My mother always told me that I should just try to do a little better every day.”

Chris Murray, president and CEO of the MSU Alumni Foundation, said that the Barnards’ gift demonstrates great confidence in the university.

“Through their gift, Mr. and Mrs. Barnard are exhibiting trust in Montana State University, and we are grateful for their investment in our students and faculty,” Murray said.

The MSU College of Engineering is one of the university’s three fastest-growing colleges, registering a remarkable 57 percent growth since the fall of 2010. The college’s current enrollment is more than 3,600 – the second largest on campus after the College of Letters and Science.

MSU’s South Campus project will be anchored by the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center, or NAIC, which will promote dynamic interdisciplinary engagement, meaningful student-faculty interaction and accelerated innovation that responds to and anticipates emerging trends in education, industry and society. The building will be open to all but anchored in the university’s growing engineering programs.

The NAIC is named for 1960 MSU College of Engineering alumnus Norm Asbjornson, president and CEO of AAON, a NASDAQ-traded heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) manufacturer based in Tulsa, Okla. In 2014, Asbjornson announced a $50 million gift to the the College of Engineering. The terms of Asbjornson’s gift require MSU to raise an additional $20 million for the South Campus.

Contact: Traci Weller, MSU Alumni Foundation, (406) 994-2223 or

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