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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Regents Approve Gianforte Name On MSU Computing School

Montana State University logo.

Montana’s Board of Regents were conflicted today as they voted to approve an $8 million donation to Montana State University from Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for governor. 

The donation, announced last week, will rename MSU’s Computer Science Department 'The Gianforte School of Computing," name an auditorium after Gianforte, and create an endowment to support the future of the school.

The Board of Regents unanimously voted to approve the building name change and donation, but with several regents expressing conflict about their vote.

Board Chair Paul Tuss said many students sent in written comments and came to the Board’s meeting to voice opinions about the donation.

Many of the comments had to do with the Gianforte Family Foundation’s financial support of organizations that the LGBT community says are oppressive to their civil rights. 

“Those comments honestly for the most part were against accepting this donation," Tuss said.

"However, I also acknowledge the good that this gift will bring to future generations of students at MSU- Bozeman. I believe it would be inappropriate to make a decision to reject this because of politics or philosophical differences. I also think it is inappropriate to not acknowledge the great number of people concerned about the timing of this donation, and other concerns brought to attention by the LGBT community," he said. 

Greg Gianforte at his home in Bozeman in 2016
Credit Eric Whitney
Greg Gianforte at his home in Bozeman. University officials said the Gianfortes have been longtime supporters of MSU.

University officials said the Gianfortes have been longtime supporters of MSU. And the timing of the donation has to do, in part, with $2 million of the gift going to support the construction of a new engineering school created by another donation. That donation required MSU to match with additional funds by June of this year.

Montana Democrats have expressed concern about Gianforte using this donation for political gain in his bid for governor.

Several regents recommended further review of the process of how the Montana University System renames its buildings.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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