MSU College of Nursing receives $101 million gift

‘This gift will forever change health care in Montana’

By: - August 30, 2021 6:58 pm

Robyn Jones, co-founder of Goosehead Insurance, announces a $101 million grant to the MSU College of Nursing on Aug. 30, 2021. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

Montana State University on Monday announced a $101 million gift from a pair of insurance executives to significantly revamp MSU’s College of Nursing, which operates on five campuses throughout the state.

The donation, from Texas-based Goosehead Insurance founders Robyn and Mark Jones, will go to new facilities at each campus, five endowed professorships, a scholarship fund for nursing students and toward the creation of what will be the state’s only certified nurse midwifery program, according to a statement from the university. MSU, Montana’s largest university, said the gift is the largest ever given to a U.S. college of nursing and will support campuses in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula .

At an in-person event Monday, university officials presented the new endowment as one way to help the college address a shortage of healthcare professionals and services in the state, especially in rural areas.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Cruzado said the gift will help pay for things like state-of-the-art simulation labs, in addition to new buildings and positions.

“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,” added MSU College of Nursing Dean Sarah Shannon.

The university is looking to graduate 400 four-year nursing students a year by 2030. The billionaire Joneses, high school sweethearts, hail from Canada and now live in Texas, but have been steadily increasing their footprint in Montana They recently acquired land on Big Mountain in Whitefish, and have added to their holdings, now owning around one fifth of private parcels in Flathead County, according to the Flathead Beacon.

“We both grew up visiting Montana with our families, and now it is one of the places we call home,” Robyn Jones said in a statement. “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.”

Goosehead was in the news earlier this year as one of several companies that have terminated employees for participating in the January 6 U.S. Capitol riots. An associate general counsel with the firm was fired after posting a photo to Instagram discussing being tear gassed at the Capitol. In an email sent to staff, Mark Jones, who identifies as a conservative, wrote that the company does not “condone violent or illegal acts,” according to reporting from Insurance Journal, a trade publication.

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Arren Kimbel-Sannit
Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Arren Kimbel-Sannit is an Arizona-bred journalist who has covered politics, policy and power building at every level of government. Before getting his dose of northern exposure, Arren worked as a reporter in all manner of Arizona newsrooms, for the Dallas Morning News and for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. He has a special interest in how land-use decisions affect working-class people, which he displayed through reporting on the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the Los Angeles Times and PBS Newshour. He's also covered housing, agriculture, the Trump presidency and more.