BILLINGS- It’s been a dream for science educators at Montana State University Billings, but now it’s a reality.
A new $17 million, state-of-the-art Yellowstone Science and Health Building, with its sleek gray exterior and expansive classrooms, is now open for future students.
Those with MSUB and the foundation along with other stakeholders celebrated the new building Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception to usher in the new era for science on campus.
Dean Kurt Toenjes has been instrumental in getting the project off the ground back years ago.
“We’ve had a lot of really good, hard work by a number of individuals from our public or stakeholders, community, all that stuff,” he said. “And we've had some challenges.”
He says it wasn’t an easy endeavor, but those who believe in the mission to bring trailblazing science education to future Montana students never let up.
The building was built in 1947, and the project involved an expansive renovation to meet the evolving demands of students using the facility and the educational needs.
Toenjes showed MTN News all the newest features, including smart board technology in each classroom, a new greenhouse and cutting-edge labs.
“We have a cutting-edge medical microbiology lab. We have a cutting-edge molecular research lab, and we're building relationships with our community to do research,” he said.
This new building will provide access to learning for science students and future health professionals, he said.
“We have a lot of students that work down in the hospital, the medical corridor, we have our program and med lab sciences, for which students train here and then go work in the hospitals,” he said.
Those with the MSU Billings Foundation say over 80% of their graduates remain in Montana, and over 50% will stay in Billings.
“Where our graduates go out and work in Billings, stay in Billings, stay in Yellowstone County and contribute to us, and it's a very cool thing,” said Toenjes. “We also have students that leave go to medical school, dental school, veterinary school and come back to Yellowstone County and that's pretty cool too.”
Toenjes also says that considering how we're still fighting through a global pandemic, the Yellowstone Science and Health Building can now give Montana medical students a fighting chance to learn and battle new diseases and viruses.
The ribbon-cutting was held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in front of the new building, and students will enter the new building for classes Wednesday.