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Gambles leave estate for student success center

Geoff and Patricia Gamble, pictured at home with their horses, will leave their estate to MSU.
Photo by Kelly Gorham

October 09, 2009 -- MSU News Service

BOZEMAN -- In an unprecedented step in Montana State University presidential history, President Geoff Gamble and his wife, Patricia, will leave their estate to the school, the couple announced Friday morning.

Patricia Gamble will also leave MSU an endowment created in honor of her parents - Florence and Monty Moneyhan. The combined gifts could total more than $2 million when MSU receives them in the future.

"When we first arrived in Bozeman nine years ago we did not know then that we had finally come home," Gamble said. "We have become Montanans. Neither of us was born here, but it is here that we now belong. We have been inspired by this place and its people and want to give something back."

The gifts will act as the seed for the Geoff and Patricia Gamble Center for Student Success, a program that will provide resources to help students stay, and succeed, in school and for faculty to sharpen their teaching skills.

"We wanted our gift to lift up the entire institution, our students and our faculty," Gamble said.

Gamble, 67, has been MSU's president since 2000. He announced his retirement in March, but promised to stay in office until his successor arrives. Three finalists for the position interviewed on campus in late September and a new president could be named within weeks.

"Before I entered higher education, I had a successful career in the insurance industry," Gamble said. "Throughout our lives, Patricia and I have been very conservative savers and investors enabling us the good fortune to give back to a place that's given us so much."

Keeping students in school, known as retention, has been a priority with Gamble during his administration.

"Some students struggle with being unprepared for college academically and socially, with homesickness, and with poor study, time management and personal finance skills," Gamble said. "They leave school because they think they can't succeed, but I know with the right help they can."

The Geoff and Patricia Gamble Center for Student Success will address many of these challenges by expanding MSU's ability to provide students with: tutoring - both individual and group sessions; study skills and time management training; academic, career and financial counseling; help managing stress; and navigating the social environment of a campus.

"Helping these students stay in school benefits the entire university, but most of all it will benefit the students themselves. Getting a college degree can improve their lives immeasurably," Gamble said. "Patricia and I have always wished the best for our students and this gift is a sign of our commitment to them."

Additionally, the center would provide resources for faculty to hone their teaching skills. It would offer seminars on emerging classroom technologies; new tools and methods for getting students to participate in their education and not be passive learners; research-based teaching; and the effective use of distance-learning technology.

"This kind of center can help keep faculty fresh and inspired," Gamble said. "It can help them get their students engaged in the classroom. Engaged students learn more and are more fun to teach."

In his retirement, Gamble will be teaching linguistics part time in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. His first class begins in January.

"I can't wait to get back in the classroom," he said. "But I will also be dedicating a good part of my retirement to making this center a reality."

"Students mean so much to us," said Patricia Gamble, who worked nearly 20 years as a university business and finance officer. "They've made our lives so rich over the years, we're honored that we can give something back to them."