By SAMANTHA MIDDLESTEAD/Montana State News
Oct. 14, 2011, was just another day for the students of Montana State University. Fall had begun to chill the grass along the sidewalks; leaves were changing on trees while winter coats reappeared as the yearly required fashion statement.
The climate within the College of Business however, was only heating up.
That was the day university officials announced an unprecedented gift of $25 million was donated to the College of Business by MSU alumni Jake Jabs.
This donation is the largest private gift in the history of the Montana higher education system, and the university has big plans for this extraordinary contribution.
“I thought they forgot to put a period in between the two and five,” said management student Sandra Wahle. “I still cannot believe this happened to MSU.”
Twenty five million dollars is a small chunk of change in terms of today’s economy, but Montana State University is already putting this once-in-a-lifetime gift to good use.
The College of Business has set aside $18 million for the construction of a new building on campus and the remaining funds will go towards expansions within the college itself.
Dr. Frank Kerins, a member of the College of Business Building Committee, said, “Jake Jab’s contribution gave us the initial funding needed to expand the College of Business. This does not simply entail a new building, but this donation will provide our students with the latest technologies and innovations they need to succeed.”
The new building, which has not been assigned a location on the MSU campus, will be an estimated to 43,000 square feet in size.
“Everything must be adaptable,” Kerins said. “The building design will depend on where it is put, and the area that will surround the building. We have a few flat sites that we are concentrating on, but one location is very unstable, and that could drastically affect the plans.”
The building committee meets every few weeks, but the meetings are, “very intense,” according to Kerins. “Every three weeks we meet with the architects. Comma-Q Architecture of Bozeman and Hennebery Eddy Architects of Portland are very good at their jobs, and always come back with something for us to think about.”
Appropriate design is essential to intent Jab’s donation, and both the committee and team of architects are open to interpretation and variation to afford to greatest use of this donation.
The building will benefit the community as well, Kerins said.
“We now have the funding to provide the people of Bozeman something we never could before. This new building will offer the most advanced technologies available along with spacious conference and meeting rooms,” said Kerins.
Kerins said interactivity between the college and public could increase because of this funding.
“Jake Jabs gave us the opportunity to tighten the connection between MSU and the community, and we must make him proud,” he said.
The building will not be designed strictly for business students, but rather to be a means of catering to all those involved within the university and surrounding areas.
“I’ll never forget the public’s reaction,” stated Wahle. “Even my neighbors in Missoula were commenting on how great this was for MSU and the residents of Montana.”
The building will be, “A collaborative opportunity for the College of Business and the rest of the university. We are working with the College of Engineering as well as others, and I see this as a phenomenal opportunity for everyone,” said Kerins.
The building and donation has breathed new life into the students and faculty of MSU, and has provided a new outlook on the future of the College of Business and the university itself.
“This building will stand as the heart of our campus, and it will change the way business is taught at the university. Jabs’ is a leader within today’s entrepreneurial world, and now MSU will be as well,” continued Kerins who says entrepreneurship must influence the education to business students.
The building committee is still meeting to determine the location of the building. Once the architects have collected their data and made their decision, they will report their findings. The committee gives their opinion to the executive committee, which makes the final recommendation to MSU President Waded Cruzado. Cruzado is expected to make her final decision by the end of spring semester.
Ground breaking is designated for spring of 2013 after the Montana State Legislature approves the plans for the building. Completion is expected by 2015.
Edited by Meghan O’Neal