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Montana State breaks ground on Missoula nursing building

BOZEMAN — Under an event tent on the west side of Missoula, Montana State University administrators, accompanied by local partners, broke ground Friday afternoon on a new nursing education building to host the Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing’s Missoula campus.

The new building will be located at 2825 Fort Missoula Road and feature classrooms and labs designed specifically for educating nursing students. The new space will also allow the college to increase enrollment to combat the professional health care worker shortage Montana is experiencing.

“The impact of this building will go far beyond its walls,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “It will extend into the Missoula community, across our entire state and beyond. Montana State University nursing graduates who emerge from this building will care for your neighbors, your loved ones and you.”

The building will be two stories, about 21,000-square feet and feature an upper-level terrace. In addition to its educational spaces, the building will have study and break areas for students who often spend most of their days on campus. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

Since its inception in 1976, the college’s Missoula campus has operated in leased facilities, which weren’t necessarily designed with education in mind.

“This building will provide a state-of-the-art learning facility, allowing faculty to seamlessly train future Bobcat Nurses,” said Tracey Koch, Missoula campus director. “The learning space will accommodate face-to-face instruction, including new, larger practical labs and simulation suites. It will serve as a landmark of our college and let Missoula and surrounding communities know we are here.”

MSU President Waded Cruzado poses with students from the Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing’s Missoula campus during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday, April 5. The new building will improve the learning experience for nursing students and allow the college to increase enrollment. MSU Photo by Kelly Gorham.

A series of contributions from MSU donors and partners paved the way for the groundbreaking ceremony, which took place on an overcast afternoon and was attended by more than 200 people. Mark and Robyn Jones’s historic, $101 million philanthropic investment to the nursing college that now bears their names will cover the cost of building the facility. It will be constructed on land donated by Community Medical Center, which is located next door.

“Community Medical Center is committed to being a strong local partner and honored to be part of MSU’s mission of educating nurses to meet the state’s health care and workforce needs,” said Bob Gomes, CEO of Community Medical Center. “The historic investment made by Mark and Robyn Jones, health systems across the state and MSU will impact the lives of people across Montana for generations. We are proud to donate land on our campus to MSU’s nursing college as we work to keep nurses living and working in our community.”

MSU’s nursing college is the largest producer of registered nurses in Montana — about 80% of graduates stay in Montana to work after graduation — and hosts the state’s only doctoral nurse practitioner program. It also has campuses in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls and Kalispell. Each of those campuses is expected to start construction on new buildings this summer, too.

“With these new, modern educational buildings we will be able to expand enrollment to meet Montana’s nursing shortage and better meet the needs of our rural, frontier and tribal communities,” said Sarah Shannon, dean of the nursing college. “We will also be able to deliver high-quality, robust simulation education to ensure that every Bobcat nurse has the opportunity to learn both the common and the rare situations they may encounter in their practice as a registered nurse.”


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