MSU receives $8 million pledge from Greg and Susan Gianforte

Funding will establish Gianforte School of Computing and support the South Campus Initiative

Montana State University has received a pledge of $8 million from Greg and Susan Gianforte, funding that will support MSU’s newly renamed Gianforte School of Computing and its South Campus initiative.

The pledge will be given to MSU through the Gianforte Family Foundation over a period of five years. It will be allocated as follows: $5 million will create an endowment to support the Gianforte School of Computing within MSU’s College of Engineering, $2 million will support the university’s South Campus initiative, which includes the future Norm Asbjornson Hall, and $1 million will provide current use funds to support the computing school.

Specifically, the endowed funds will be used to invest in initiatives that enhance the school’s ability to attract, retain and graduate computer science students, such as expanding class offerings and providing additional teaching assistants and course assistants to help students succeed in required undergraduate courses.

The funds designated for current use will be invested in faculty who can develop and deliver new courses; used to attract, retain and graduate computer science students; used to attract and retain faculty; and used to help graduates find employment in Montana. For the Gianfortes’ support of the South Campus initiative, a large classroom in Norm Asbjornson Hall is expected to be named Gianforte Auditorium.

“The Gianfortes have been long-time supporters of MSU. This gift has been years in the making and is a testament to Greg and Susan’s strong commitment to higher education and MSU in particular,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “We are very grateful for their generosity and the tremendous impact it will have on generations of students.”

“This gift is the logical next step in our long relationship with MSU and the Department of Computer Science,” said Greg Gianforte. “The Gianforte family is thrilled to partner with MSU in a way that will benefit all of Montana.”

With their most recent gift, the Gianfortes have now given or pledged a total of nearly $10 million to MSU over their lifetimes.

At its meeting in Havre this week, the Montana Board of Regents approved the university’s request to rename the Computer Science Department the Gianforte School of Computing in honor of the Gianfortes.

In March, the board heard a first reading of a proposal to retitle the Computer Science Department the School of Computing. That change had been proposed to better convey the pervasive nature of computing in today's world, according to Brett Gunnink, dean of the College of Engineering. It was also designed to provide recruiting benefits, position the school to offer new academic opportunities in the future and help connect researchers with computational needs and computational expertise. Plans to rename the department the School of Computing and the proposal to rename it the Gianforte School of Computing were made independently of one another.

The Gianfortes’ most recent gift will impact thousands of students, Gunnink said.

“The generosity of Greg and Susan will be felt by our students for years to come,” Gunnink said. “This is an amazing gift, and we are truly humbled by the trust the Gianfortes have shown in the university’s efforts to help students succeed.”

Greg Gianforte was the founder, chairman and chief executive of RightNow Technologies, an international software company that was publicly traded and headquartered in Bozeman. Oracle purchased RightNow Technologies in 2012 for $1.8 billion. Gianforte is now a candidate for governor of the state of Montana. He received an honorary doctorate in computer science from MSU in 2007.

The MSU College of Engineering has had a relationship with the Gianfortes for nearly two decades. Between 2003-2015, the Gianfortes provided nearly $2 million in support to MSU that enabled the Computer Science Department to boost enrollments, award scholarships and provide competitive start-up packages to six new faculty members. As the head of RightNow Technologies, Greg Gianforte also advocated for hiring MSU graduates due to their technical knowledge and strong work ethic, according to Chris Murray, president and CEO of the MSU Alumni Foundation.

“Since the moment RightNow Technologies, Inc. was founded in 1997, Greg and Susan have been passionate, generous and engaged supporters of MSU’s College of Engineering’s Computer Science Department,” Murray said. “Over the years, they have financially supported faculty and student programs, and this latest naming gift is a natural progression in their engagement and philanthropy. We are thrilled and honored that Greg and Susan have agreed to provide us with funding to fuel the continued growth and success of the new Gianforte School of Computing.”

John Paxton, director of the Gianforte School of Computing, said the school will help MSU continue to support the state’s high-tech industry by enabling more students to earn degrees in computer science.

“The growing, vibrant high-tech industry needs skilled graduates, and our school will help address that demand,” he said.

MSU’s Gianforte School of Computing offers a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a doctorate in computer science. It also offers a minor. More information about the school is available online at

Contact: John Paxton, (406) 994-4780 or