MSU College of Nursing Receives $101M Philanthropic Gift

Montana State University, located in Bozeman, Mont., announced this week that it has received a sizable philanthropic gift for its College of Nursing. The $101-million donation comes from Mark and Robyn Jones, founders of the Texas-based Goosehead Insurance Inc., and represents the largest gift ever given to a U.S. nursing college.

“It is hard to put into words how moved and excited all of us are at Montana State University by the generosity of the Joneses, who are helping to address some of the most critical health care disparity issues in Montana, particularly in the state’s rural areas,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Straight from the hearts of Mark and Robyn, this gift will forever change health care in Montana, and it will serve as a model for the nation.”

According to a news release, the university will allocate the funds across several different outlets. First, they will provide funding for new facilities at all five MSU College of Nursing campuses in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula, all in Montana. The new buildings will be equipped with updated classrooms and state-of-the-art simulation labs. Second, they will establish five endowed faculty professorships, giving the university a better angle in attracting faculty talent. Third, they will establish an endowed scholarship fund to help keep tuition costs affordable for the college’s students. And fourth, the funds will be used to create the state’s first certified midwifery program.

“This is a significant moment for MSU, as we estimate we will now be able to meet the state’s projected shortfall in baccalaureate-level registered nurses by 2030,” said MSU College of Nursing Dean Sarah Shannon.

The ultimate goal of the donation is to improve access to health care in the state of Montana, especially in rural areas. A news release states that 52 of the state’s 56 counties classify as medically underserved and as health professional shortage areas as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Multiple counties currently do not have a single primary care, mental health or maternal care provider. Moving forward, health professionals across the state will be educated and trained on how to address key health challenges in Montana, from an aging population to substance abuse.

The university currently graduates 256 registered nurses, 15 family nurse practitioners and eight psychiatric nurse practitioners each year. The donation will allow the MSU College of Nursing to increase that output to 400 registered nurses, 30 family nurse practitioners and 20 psychiatric nurse practitioners annually by 2030.

“We both grew up visiting Montana with our families, and now it is one of the places we call home,” said Robyn Jones. “We’ve seen firsthand the health care challenges that Montana faces, and we wanted to do something that will make an impact on the people of this beautiful state.”

Mark Jones also addressed why he chose to donate to a university with which he had no direct ties instead of his own alma mater—the Harvard Business School. “They don’t need the money,” he said. “I get hit up by Harvard all the time. Believe me, they don’t need the money.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].