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The opening of the renovated Romney Hall marked the end of a saga worthy of a James Michener novel. Those who haven’t been around here for the last decade or so won’t appreciate that it took imploring state lawmakers through five legislative sessions before they finally appropriated $25 million for bringing this 1923-vintage structure into the 21st century.

The legislators’ reluctance might be explained by the perpetual construction taking place on the MSU campus without any state participation. Eye-popping donations from alums funded a new College of Business and College of Engineering. Fees collected from soaring student enrollment funded new dorms and food services. Sports fans ponied up the bucks needed to expand the football stadium. So why are these MSU administrators pleading for funds for Romney in Helena?

The legislators didn’t seem to appreciate there were no well-heeled donors, avid sports fans or exploding student populations who had a stake in the former fieldhouse and gymnasium.

But that didn’t make it any less important.

Romney is one of the most distinctive looking buildings on campus with its arched roof and tall, multipaned windows. That alone made it worth preserving. But more important is what is housed in the hall’s renovated spaces. There are 17 classrooms — always seemingly in short supply. There are centers for student help in math and writing — both vital to student success.

Maybe the most important facet of all will be its veterans center. MSU administrators have made clear their commitment to serving the needs of veterans, and they have received national recognition for their efforts. And that commitment has been renewed by dedicating space in Romney for MSU Veterans Services, moving it from more cramped quarters in the basement of the Strand Union Building. Helping veterans re-enter civilian life successfully after serving in war zones in the Middle East is one of the most important contributions the university can make to the nation.

No, it wasn’t easy, but persistence pays. Congratulations go to all those who made this renovation a reality. After two years of construction, Romney has been given new life and new purpose. Now its nearly 100-year-old aesthetic architectural lines may grace the campus for another century.


Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Charles Rinker, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, either leave a comment on the page below or write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.