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Montana State University’s college of nursing will be known as the Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing, named after the people who donated $101 million to the college this year.

The Board of Regents unanimously approved naming the college after the Joneses during its Thursday meeting.

“From the regents, we very much appreciate the vision you’ve brought to this investment,” said Chair Casey Lozar to Mark and Robyn, who appeared by video in the meeting. “… We very much appreciate you seeing the university system and Montana State as a great place to invest.”

In initial conversations with Mark and Robyn Jones, MSU President Waded Cruzado said it was clear they wanted to explore options to “make a transformational impact.”

“Today, of course, health care and access to health care is an important problem to solve,” Cruzado said.

Cruzado said the Joneses were not only investors but committed to the project. The university has started holding multiple committee meetings on plans for the College of Nursing every other week and Robyn Jones has attended every meeting virtually, she said.

While they were appreciative of the recognition, Mark said, “that’s not why we made the investment. We just were looking for an opportunity to help and make a difference.”

Mark said Cruzado and College of Nursing Dean Sarah Shannon were people that he and Robyn felt could carry out the vision of bringing health care to all Montanans who need it.

The university announced the gift from the Joneses — founders of Goosehead Insurance Inc. and part-time Montana residents — in late August. The funds are slated to go toward expanding its College of Nursing facilities across the state, creating a scholarship fund, developing a nurse midwifery program and establishing five endowed professorships.

At the time of the gift, Robyn Jones said she hoped the donation would help to meet a critical need for health care workers in Montana and address some of the challenges the state faces in areas of mental health, aging population, substance abuse and prenatal care.

According to the university’s projections, the college plans to meet the state’s projected nursing shortage by 2030.

In a September meeting, the Board of Regents approved MSU to begin spending the funds, authorizing spending $10 million to begin planning and drafting preliminary designs for new nursing facilities. The facilities are planned for the college’s existing campuses in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula.

“The investment is going to have such a huge impact in our state and we appreciate your selflessness and your vision,” Lozar told the Joneses.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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