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$101 Million Donation Will Fund MSU Nursing College Expansion

Health care worker holding a clipboard.

Montana State University’s College of Nursing has received a $101 million donation to expand campuses across the state. School officials say the funding will allow the school to meet the demand for nursing in Montana within the next decade.

MSU College of Nursing Dean Sarah Shannon says the gift from a wealthy Texas family will expand the college’s five nursing campuses around the state.

“Thanks to Mark and Robyn Jones, we will be constructing new, expanded nursing education buildings on each of our nursing campuses located in Bozeman, Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls and Billings.”

A spokesperson with MSU Billings says the donation will roll out over the next nine years and all of those projects will be completed by 2030. The extra space will allow the nursing school to graduate 430 registered nurses annually, a nearly 70-percent increase compared to its current number of annual graduates.

MSU estimates that Montana needs another 1,400 registered nurses to keep up with health care demands and a workforce shortage it says could nearly double by the end of the decade.

Nursing school Dean Shannon says the nursing school’s growth will eliminate that shortage.

The donors, Robyn and Mark Jones, are the founders of Texas-based Goosehead Insurance.

Mark Jones said they thought of the donation as an investment in the state’s medical workforce.

The Jones’ donation will also create endowed scholarships for students and professorships and launch the state’s only doctorate-level midwifery program for nurses.

The couple, originally from Alberta, also purchased a Whitefish home and 125,000 acres of private timberlands west of Kalispell earlier this year.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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