January 2, 2018

 architect rendering of Yellowstone Hall


MSUB Yellowstone Science Building Project Obtains $500K in Funding from the Montana Coal Board



Bill Kennedy, MSUB Foundation, 657-2244; bill.kennedy@msubillings.edu


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — The MSU Billings (MSUB) Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building Capital Campaign moved closer to completion this week when the Montana Coal Board voted and approved a MSUB Foundation proposal for $500,000. 


With the $10 million approved by the Montana Legislature in 2013, this generous contribution brings the total amount raised for the Yellowstone Building to $13.5 million.


The Yellowstone Building is MSU Billings’ project to expand and renovate the current science building originally built in 1947. The goal is to incorporate the science and allied health programs, curriculum, and technology into a state-of-the-art facility. 


The Montana Coal Board was created in 1975, along with Montana’s Coal Severance Tax, through the passage of Senate Bill 87. The Board considers applications and awards Coal Board Impact grants to counties, communities, school districts, Indian Tribes, or other governmental units to assist them in adequately providing governmental services or facilities that are needed as a direct consequence of an increase or decrease in coal development or in the consumption of coal by a coal-using energy complex.


MSUB graduates contribute to the economies of coal country, with 11 percent working in the industry (more than any other Montana higher education institution), according a 2017 Montana Department of Labor and Industry study. Additionally, 15,538 MSUB graduates self-report they are currently working in Eastern Montana's coal-impacted counties.


With changes in the coal industry, workers often seek out retraining or higher education options, according to labor studies. MSUB is aspiring to meet this need. However, the current facilities for science and allied health are challenged to accommodate additional students due to limited space and overcrowded laboratory space.


The Yellowstone Building project responds to the need to provide STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and health industry training in a modern facility for workers affected by changes in the coal industry, as well as others in coal-impacted counties. This could enable the region to better diversify and adapt to the evolving economic climate.


“Eastern Montana's economic health will increasingly rely on the ability to educate skilled workers in multiple industries, particularly in the STEM and health fields,” commented Interim Chancellor Dr. Ron Larsen. “MSUB’s science and allied health programs aspire to meet the needs of these burgeoning industries. The Montana Coal Board’s generous contribution has taken us one step closer to providing a 21st century learning and research environment for the region.”