GREAT FALLS — The groundbreaking ceremony for new buildings for Montana State University nursing program took place in Great Falls on Tuesday at the Grandview at Benefis Town Square.
The Mark & Robyn Jones College of Nursing Great Falls campus is preparing to begin the construction of a new building. It is one of five MSU nursing buildings across the state that is possible due to a $101 million donation from Mark and Robyn Jones.
“This is a great day,” Waded Cruzado, President of MSU said, “It's a new day for Great Falls, for Benefis Hospital, and for Montana State University, and my heart is full of gratitude."
The donation, which is the largest private donation to a nursing school in United States history, will go toward scholarships, numerous MSU nursing facilities, and a certified nurse midwifery program, as well as the five buildings across the state.
“These are very special people who wanted to do something that would impact the health and wellbeing of all Montanans,” Sarah Shannon, Dean of MSU Nursing College said.
The Joneses are the founders of Goosehead Insurance Inc., and split their time between Texas and Montana. Although not at the event, they shared their gratitude to the MSU Nursing community in a letter.
“Thank you to the current and future nursing professionals who invest their careers in the care of their communities,” The Joneses letter, read by Dean Shannon, said, “You are the heroes in our eyes.”
“Getting this very generous gift from Mark and Robyn Jones enabled us to provide the best quality of buildings and facilities for our future students and the future Bobcat nurses,” Cruzado said.
While the Joneses donation was incredibly large and impactful, it is not the only act of service that helped make the new building in Great Falls a reality.
Benefis Health System, led by Benefis CEO John Goodnow, donated the land where the new facility will be built.
“The donation of the land was absolutely essential as part of the program,” Cruzado said, “What John Goodnow, Benefits Hospital, and the board have allowed us to do, number one, they serve as leaders in the state. And secondly, it allows us to use more of those dollars from that gift for the purpose of being invested in the education of those students.”
Cruzado, Goodnow, Shannon, and other leaders then ceremoniously grabbed shovels and dug up dirt from the worksite, brought to the Grandview in an MSU-branded trough. The Great Falls building is expected to be completed in 2026.