Opinion: Fundraising and Change: A New MSU Era

The Montana State University Alumni Foundation (MSUAF) recently named Chris Murray its new president and CEO. Otherwise known as MSU’s new Chief of Fundraising, the new leader of the Alumni Foundation has significant fundraising experience, adding to the already positive financial prospects MSU is currently enjoying as it looks forward to numerous upcoming developments across campus.

Murray began his career more than 30 years ago as the director of development at the Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California. From there he went to University of Oregon as the associate dean of External Affairs and the University of Idaho as the vice president of University Advancement, where he spent almost a decade successfully planning, launching and managing a $225 million capital campaign before accepting his new position at the MSUAF a few weeks ago.

The MSUAF is a private nonprofit corporation focused on supporting Montana State University by building relationships with MSU alumni and leveraging private financial support to advance MSU and its mission as Montana’s premier land-grant university. The foundation currently holds over $200 million in total assets and consists of a network of over 12,000 MSU alumni. In a MSU News article Murray said “he is very excited to help the organization advance Montana State and its commitment to learning, discovery and community engagement.”

However, MSU students are most likely not intrigued by total asset and alumni membership figures so much as real changes that make an impact on our education and our overall college experience. There is much to be excited about with the new Jake Jabs College of Business building and the plans for the new College of Engineering building, along with a new dormitory soon to house hundreds of future students and even rumors of a parking garage. But with expanding educational resources comes increasingly difficult logistical issues. The number of students at MSU keeps rising. And as it does, problems such as parking and optimal technology become real issues. With MSU’s current momentum, and a new fundraiser-in-chief who looks to be very promising, now is the time to address these logistical problems that affect us all as the university and Bozeman continue to grow.

As many students will readily admit, parking on or near campus is almost always an extreme headache that starts off many students’ mornings with a little road rage. Students who show up on campus any time after eight in the morning often face dismal parking prospects, resulting in hundreds of parking tickets issued every year to students who try to find innovative solutions to a rather simple problem. There are simply not enough parking spaces on campus to handle the ever-increasing number of students. Although it would probably be very expensive, a parking garage is needed on or near campus and would be a huge improvement to the current situation. Of course, university officials are prone to be much more excited about new educational developments such as the upcoming business and engineering buildings. However, on-campus parking is a serious debacle that is only going to worsen as more and more students attend MSU unless the university and the MSUAF take action.

Another major issue that is starting to negatively impact the college experience of many students here at MSU is the ever-shrinking available Internet bandwidth. Nearly every student here has had troubles getting a strong network connection while trying to take notes in class or look something up on their laptop at the library. Of course it is rather a Herculean task to host a strong Internet connection for tens of thousands of devices, but the increasing number of students at MSU is starting to take a toll on the university’s connectivity. Many students would be very excited about amping up the university’s web servers so that every student would have all of the world’s information right at their fingertips and learn something new at any moment.

MSU is enjoying some of the most rapid growth it has ever seen. The institution is quickly becoming a major-name university throughout the United States. But we must ensure that the years students spend here at MSU remain the incredible experience they should be, and not let the university expand too quickly without taking its students — every one of us — into regard. MSU has a lot of development on its current agenda, the Alumni Foundation has a new leader, and we as students are all witnessing all this change. Let’s be a part of it.