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Controversy and Warning: Gianforte and True Higher Ed Leadership
Updated On: May 09, 2014

Greg Gianforte and True Higher Education Leadership

By Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT

Apparently this year Greg Gianforte has a corner on the higher education speaker circuit.

I wonder if and when other innovators, entrepreneurs of a different sort, such as advocates of public education; representatives of organized labor; opponents of bigotry, racism and discrimination; and proponents of the social compact will receive their invitations to be seen and heard by our college and university graduates. 

Higher Ed leadership could start here - or here or here or even here

Successful businessman he is, but Greg Gianforte would also privatize our public schools and turn them into religious academies at public expense for his own personal and ideological gain.  He would smash our democracy into constituent parts.  He is no scientist.  So, when he announces his candidacy for governor, don’t forget the whole agenda.  All if it.

Gianforte will deliver Rocky commencement speech, despite controversy


BOZEMAN businessman Greg Gianforte will speak during Rocky Mountain College’s May 3commencement ceremonies, despite a controversy over an invitation for him and his wife, Susan, to speak at Montana Tech's graduation. Gianforte founded the software engineering company RightNow Technologies, which he sold to Oracle in 2012 for $1.5 billion. The electrical engineer and computer scientist is now managing director of the Bozeman Technology Incubator.

But Gianforte's other activities had some Montana Tech faculty and students threatening to boycott commencement. There is some dismay on the Butte campus over Gianforte’s involvement with an affiliate of the conservative Focus on the Family and with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative political think tank in Washington, D.C., the Montana Standard reported Thursday.

The Gianforte Family Foundation also made a donation in 2009 to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which holds a biblical perspective that the world was created a few thousand years ago and that dinosaurs lived at the same time as humans. Professors at Tech say those beliefs are in direct opposition to the science taught on campus.

Some Tech faculty also took issue with Susan Gianforte's recent opposition to a proposed ordinance in Bozeman that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

RMC President Bob Wilmouth defended Rocky's invitation to Greg Gianforte, saying “business is our largest department and everybody is involved in technology in some way. We thought this would be an absolute perfect match.” Still, Steve Germic, associate professor of English and acting academic vice president, said the issue would be discussed Wednesday during a meeting of the Faculty Executive Committee.

Greg Gianforte couldn’t be reached for comment, but on Tuesday in a column in the Montana Standard, he wrote that he believes “discrimination of any kind is flat-out wrong.”“I built my business by hiring the best people based on ability, not ideology — period,” he wrote. “I owe my success to the principles of freedom and liberty on which this nation was founded.”

The best way to fight discrimination and level the playing field is to help people attain a strong education, he said. In 2012, he and his wife pledged $4.6 million to provide scholarships to low- and moderate-income children in the state to attend private K-12 schools.

At RMC, Wilmouth said that when commencement organizers discussed a speaker for this year's commencement, their focus was on finding someone who would give a positive, high-energy message. “We think that commencement is for our students and their families after a job well done,” he said. “And we want them to understand that learning is lifelong and that making good, bold decisions in life and reaching for the stars and always going for your dreams is attainable.”

Organizers thought Gianforte could deliver that message, based on his own business successes, Wilmouth said. "We thought he'd deliver a very strong, consistent message to get them off into the world." Wilmouth said he was sorry to hear about the controversy. “We pride ourselves in being the college that we are, that we are open to different viewpoints,” he said. “We don’t tolerate violence, hatred or discrimination on our campus.”

*You can read Gianforte’s Montana Standard op-ed here -

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