University Relations and Communications

Former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns donates funds for MSU Billings scholarships

July 26, 2009


Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings has received a $79,800 donation from former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns to help augment educational opportunities for students.


At a special presentation Friday at Billings Central Catholic High School, Burns presented the donation to MSU Billings Chancellor Ron Sexton. The donation was part of the dissolution of The Senator Conrad Burns Foundation for Scholastic Excellence.


MSU Billings was one of four educational institutions to receive funds. Other donations were made to Billings Catholic Schools, the Educational Foundation for Billings Public Schools and Rocky Mountain College.


Burns and Nick Cladis, of Capstone Wealth Management, said the funds were designated to MSU Billings and the other entities to ensure students have the education and technological tools to help them succeed.


Senator Conrad Burns and MSUB Chancellor Ron Sexton“This little money we'll give today will be used to plug holes, to give scholarships based on the times and the conditions in our own neighborhoods, and that's pretty darn important,” Burns said.

Noting that the donation will have significant effect on students, Sexton said he intends to raise matching funds to establish an endowed scholarship fund in the name of Conrad and Phyllis Burns. He said the first scholarships could be awarded this fall.


“It will help Montana students, not only now, but in the future,” Sexton said.


Burns noted MSU Billings’ success in recent years to reinvent trade and technical education at its College of Technology and lauded Sexton’s vision in embedding the university in the community with its Downtown Billings presence.

“If anybody ever grasped the changing times it’s him,” Burns said. “He changed the face of the College of Technology for kids. It’s OK to want to be a panel-bender or to fix engines, but he understood that you need to have the computer skills to do the work.”


Sexton said the scholarships will be available for students who want to pursue degrees in two-year programs at the COT or other four-year academic areas at the main campus.


MSU Billings is a regional liberal arts university with more than 100 academic options for students. Colleges offer associates, bachelor and graduate degrees in education, business, arts and sciences allied health professions and technology.


To find out more about academic options at MSU Billings and how to enroll for fall semester, go to or call 657-2888. For more information about scholarship opportunities at MSU Billings, contact the MSU Billings Foundation at 657-2244.


Former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, left, presented a donation to Montana State University Billings Chancellor Ron Sexton on Friday, July 24. The $79,8000 will be used for scholarships.


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