Montana State University

Building to be named after MSU's ninth president on Nov. 2

October 29, 2007 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

Bill Tietz served as MSU's president from 1977 to 1990. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham).    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- A public ceremony to name a Montana State University building after Bill Tietz, the university's ninth president, will be held Friday, Nov. 2.

The Animal Resources Center will be named the William J. Tietz Hall during a dedication and ribbon cutting to begin at 10:30 a.m. at the entrance to the building, located between Lewis Hall and Linfield Hall. Tietz, now 80, will participate in the ceremony, as will current MSU President Geoff Gamble, Regent Stephen Barrett of Bozeman, ARC director Chris O'Rourke, and Mark Jutila, professor of veterinary molecular biology. A public reception will run from 11 a.m. to noon in the second floor atrium of the Plant Growth Center.

Tietz, who served as MSU's president from 1977 through 1990, played an instrumental role in establishing the center, said Rolf Groseth, Vice President of Inter-Campus Affairs at MSU. In a 2006 memo requesting that the center be named for Tietz, Groseth wrote that the Animal Resources Center was an appropriate building to carry Tietz's name. The request was recommended by the MSU Building Names Committee, the Facilities Planning Board, and Gamble. It was approved by the Montana Board of Regents.

"It is certainly appropriate that, 16 years after the conclusion of his remarkable tenure as president, this recognition should be selected to inform current and future generations of students and faculty of his role in MSU's history," Groseth said in his memo. "It is also appropriate that this building be chosen because it continues to represent an advance in MSU's capacity to conduct important research on an international level. This advancement was a hallmark of the Tietz presidency.

"Finally, it is appropriate because it was one of very few facilities of its kind in the nation built entirely with state-appropriated funds and because it resulted from the right-place-at-the-right-time, informal politics at which President Tietz was so successful and which he enjoyed so much," Groseth continued.

Tietz said in a recent interview that the building reflected cooperation among MSU administrators, regents and state legislators, but the way it came about was "wild." MSU officials had discussed such a center, but they weren't planning to present the idea when they did, he explained. They were in Helena when a state legislator from White Sulphur Springs walked out of a meeting of the capital construction committee and told them that the University of Montana would be asking for approval to spend $8 or $9 million. Didn't MSU have a project it could add to its $5 million proposal?

Tietz and other MSU officials then went to a coffee shop and decided to add the Animal Resources Center, Tietz said. They returned to the committee after lunch and presented their ideas. By 1:30 p.m., the committee had approved the addition, and the Animal Resources Center was built in 1984. Warren "Jack" Frost served as director for 20 years before retiring. O'Rourke became the second director in 2004. The center houses animals, primarily rodents, that are part of research on campus.

"Probably of all the buildings on campus, my administration had the most to do with this one," Tietz said, adding that he was "absolutely" honored that the building would be named after him.

Jutila said, "Naming the Animal Resources Center in Dr. Tietz's honor is an outstanding way to acknowledge the contributions he and his administration made for Montana State University, particularly in making this university a top tier research institution. Though certainly not the largest building on campus, one could argue that the ARC and the operation headed originally by Warren (Jack) Frost and now Chris O'Rourke has made the single greatest impact on research at MSU compared to any other facility on campus.

"The ARC had an immediate impact on the research programs in microbiology, propelling this department to one of the leading NIH-funded departments on campus in the ‛80s and early ‛90s," Jutila added. "Another dramatic example of the impact of the ARC is in the growth of research in veterinary molecular biology from roughly $400,000 a year in expenditures in the early ‛90s to more than $12 million a year currently, which represents the highest level of grant support on campus."

Before coming to MSU, Tietz was dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. Saying MSU was the only place that could have lured him away from CSU, Tietz served 13 years as MSU's president then headed up the research program at Deaconess Research Institute in Billings. After three years, he retired again and returned to Bozeman. He is now chairman of the board for the Burton K. Wheeler Center and a citizen member of the Detention Center Planning Committee for Gallatin County.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or