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Texas Billionaires Give Montana State University's College of Nursing $101M

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   September 07, 2021

The gift is intended to increase access to healthcare, particularly for Montana's rural and frontier communities.

A $101 million gift to Montana State University's College of Nursing—reportedly the largest ever given to a college of nursing in the United States—is intended to increase access to healthcare, particularly for rural and frontier communities.

The gift from Texas insurance billionaires Mark and Robyn Jones will:

  • Provide funding for new facilities at each of the MSU College of Nursing's five campuses in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula equipped with modern classrooms and state-of-the-art simulation labs.
  • Establish five endowed faculty professorships—the first in the history of the MSU College of Nursing. These endowed professorships will position MSU to attract top faculty talent during a nationwide nursing faculty shortage.
  • Develop an endowed scholarship fund that will allow the MSU College of Nursing to keep the cost of nursing education affordable for all students.
  • Create Montana's only certified nurse midwifery program, significantly increasing the number of specialized maternal healthcare providers for Montana's rural and remote communities.

"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 healthcare disparity issues in Montana, particularly in the state's rural areas," MSU President Waded Cruzado said in a press release.

"This gift will forever change healthcare in Montana, and it will serve as a model for the nation," Cruzado said. "Thanks to their vision, we will have access to tangible tools, such as high-quality simulation labs, new facilities across our nursing campuses, and more registered nurses, and doctor of nursing practice-prepared nurse practitioners and nurse midwives."

Access to healthcare has been a critical issue across the state, with 52 of Montana's 56 counties classified as medically underserved and health professional shortage areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

There are many counties in Montana lacking even one primary care, mental health, or maternal care provider, but this gift will provide the opportunity to more than double the number of family nurse practitioners and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners graduating from MSU, according to the university.

"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 first-hand 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."

Montana State is the largest producer of registered nurses in Montana and is the sole provider of doctoral nurse practitioner education in the state.

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

“We've seen first-hand 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.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: EQRoy


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The endowment is reportedly the largest ever given to a college of nursing in the United States.

52 of Montana's 56 counties are classified as medically underserved

It will create Montana's only certified nurse midwifery program.


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