Matt Morley had moved to Bozeman from St. Paul, Minn., to attend MSU, but he found that he was better suited at the time to a program leading to an associate degree.
The two-year aviation program in Bozeman "basically taught me how to go to college," said Morley, who graduated in 2009 and is now working as a flight instructor and pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics at MSU. "It was something I was interested in, and I learned if I applied myself I could do well in school."
And, as a newly divorced single mother of two young girls, Nicole Hallengrogg was searching for more lucrative job options when she discovered the interior design program.
"I was trying to figure out how to survive on the income I had, but I was not really making enough to support us," said Hallengrogg, 33. "I chose this program because it was a job-oriented program that would actually help me find a job and have an income that could sustain my family."
Erickson, Morley and Hallengrogg are just three examples of the hundreds of students who have found their niches in two-year and one-year education programs at MSU in Bozeman. Formerly known as the MSU-Great Falls College of Technology in Bozeman, in May they were renamed Gallatin College Programs (GCP) to more accurately reflect their location and offerings. A grand opening of GCP is set for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, in Hamilton Hall on the MSU campus. The grand opening is the first of the events celebrating the inauguration of Waded Cruzado as MSU's 12th president. It is free and the public is invited to attend.
Programs currently offered through GCP include associate degrees in aviation, interior design, design drafting, and a certificate program in welding. GCP also offer courses in developmental math and developmental writing. All of the courses have been, and will continue to be, taught in Bozeman.
Administrators, students and community members say they are enthusiastic about the programs, which are designed to provide students with easy access to services and respond efficiently and effectively to community needs.
"Gallatin College Programs will enhance access to education for people in the Gallatin Valley and beyond," said MSU President Waded Cruzado. "They are an important component of our land-grant mission."
Erickson says the education is providing her with the knowledge she needs to succeed in interior design.
"It helps the business aspect of it for me," said Erickson, 28. "Before, I knew kind of intuitively that I wanted to design. It was fun, and I was good at it. Now, since going back to school, I am learning more about the business part of it. I'm learning more than I would have had I just stayed at a job."
With GCP now operating under the umbrella of MSU's Bozeman campus, services will be more accessible and less confusing for students, said Bob Hietala, dean of GCP. Local students can visit the financial aid office in Bozeman, for example, instead of working over the phone with staff in Great Falls.
"I am ecstatic about the change," said Megan Bittinger, who is simultaneously studying interior design through GCP and finance through MSU's College of Business.
Bittinger recounted how difficult it was before the switch to talk about financial matters over the phone.
"Talking on the phone with somebody in another town is a lot harder than sitting down in an office with that person," Bittinger said. "It's so much better this way."
GCP students now have access to many amenities on the MSU campus, including the library and fitness center. They also have the option to purchase other services, including MSU health insurance and meal plans.
Students will also benefit from the GCP's recent move to a renovated Hamilton Hall, Hietala said. Before, the two-year programs were located in Culbertson Hall.
"Dedicated classroom space will improve instructional services to students," Hietala said, pointing to a new drafting classroom, with workspaces equipped with a combination of computers and tilting draft boards.
For the students in the development education courses, designed for MSU students who need additional instruction to improve their skills in math and writing, Hamilton Hall will also provide easier access to tutoring services and larger, improved labs, Hietala said. Last fall, more than 700 students enrolled in such courses.
Other benefits to students who enroll in GCP include affordability, flexibility and individualized attention, Hietala said.
For full-time, in-state students taking 12 credits, the cost to attend GCP will be $1,530 per semester. In-state, undergraduate students at MSU pay $5,988 per semester.
"This is definitely a cost-effective education," Hietala said.
Courses through GCP are also designed to appeal to students who, in addition to going to school, may be working full-time or raising families.
"Many of the classes are evening classes to meet the needs of those students," Hietala said. "Our goal is to be very flexible."
Finally, with smaller class sizes, students can expect to receive individualized attention.
Erickson, who already has a bachelor's degree in psychology, said she receives more personal attention in GCP's interior design program than she did as an undergraduate student at a four-year university.
"As long as you're willing to put in the time, (the professors are) really willing to make things work for you," Erickson said. "They'll guide you and explain things to you. They're really willing to take time out of their day to help you."
Hallengrogg agreed the programs offer a lot of personal attention.
"Our phone calls get returned," she said. "We know everybody's name. It's great."
The programs not only benefit students, Hietala said, but they are also responsive to the needs of industries in the area.
"Our business community needs qualified workers," Hietala said. "Our students are coming out of our programs in just two years with the skills they need in order to be successful in the workforce."
"I am so glad to have an interior design program here locally," said Kristie McPhie, owner of McPhie Cabinetry and a member of the GCP Interior Design Advisory Board. McPhie has hired several students as interns and says they are attentive to detail and willing to take on anything. She said the GCP interior design program will benefit employers when they are hiring.
When somebody comes through professional training, they have a foundation they can count on in their job," McPhie said. "The program teaches good fundamentals."
For more information about two-year and one-year educational offerings in the Gallatin Valley, visit GCP online at http://www.montana.edu/gallatincollege/, in Hamilton Hall or call 994-5536.
Read on for more information about the different programs offered through Gallatin College Programs:
Students who complete the two-year aviation program will have all the credentials required to pursue a career as a professional pilot. The program offers in-depth training in all stages of pilot certification (private pilot, instrument rating and commercial pilot). It also offers classroom training in aircraft systems, advanced navigation systems, aviation safety, flight instructor/aircraft theory, and aviation regulations and professional conduct.
In the design drafting technology program, students acquire skills for entry-level drafting jobs in the design/drafting industry. Graduates of the program are prepared to create construction documents and shop drawings, visualize and measure 3D objects and buildings and recreate them in computer-aided design (CAD) software, render objects and buildings for presentation in programs, create residential plans using CAD software, create maps from GIS data, and estimate construction material quantities and building costs.
The interior design program has been developed to prepare students for jobs in various parts of the design field, ranging from residential to commercial design. The program is a National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)-supported school and is working toward becoming a NKBA-accredited school. Students in the program may choose to complete 70 additional internship hours to earn a certification in the NKBA.
Students who complete the one-year welding technology program are prepared to meet safety requirements, produce welds that meet industry standards, understand measuring instruments and power sources, interpret blueprints and symbols, and utilize basic welding metallurgy. Graduates are also eligible to apply to be listed in the American Welding Society's National Registry of Welders.
Bob Hietala, (406) 994-5523 or firstname.lastname@example.org