MSU to celebrate naming of engineering college for alumnus Asbjornson

 

Montana State University will celebrate the naming of its engineering college in honor of alumnus Norm Asbjornson at a Feb. 1 reception that is free and open to the public.

Asbjornson, as well as MSU President Waded Cruzado and Brett Gunnink, dean of the engineering college, will speak at the event, which will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Strand Union Building Ballrooms on the MSU campus.

“This is an opportunity for the community to come out and get to know the most generous donor in MSU’s history,” Gunnink said.

Asbjornson, who earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at MSU in 1960 and went on to found AAON, a NASDAQ-traded heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) manufacturer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has given more than $55 million to MSU. His $50 million pledge in 2014 – the largest single gift ever made to the university – became the cornerstone of the $70 million initiative to develop MSU’s South Campus, which will include a state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom space named Norm Asbjornson Hall.

To honor Asbjornson’s generous contributions, which include $2 million in research grants to the engineering college and a $2 million gift in support of the first endowed chair in the MSU’s College of Agriculture, the state Board of Regents unanimously approved renaming the engineering college for Asbjornson in November.

Asbjornson grew up in the small town of Winifred, Montana, during the Great Depression. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, he spent 28 years working in the HVAC industry and founded AAON in 1988. The company, which has hired many MSU graduates, produces HVAC equipment that can be found cooling and heating businesses around Bozeman, throughout Montana and the world. Asbjornson, who is currently the CEO of AAON and the chairman of the company’s board, received an honorary doctorate from MSU in 2004.

The Feb. 1 event will also mark the beginning of the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering’s featured month within the year of festivities celebrating the 125th anniversary of MSU’s founding. Each of MSU’s colleges and divisions will be highlighted during a month in 2018.

“I can’t imagine a more exciting way to kick off our college’s month than by honoring Norm for his contributions, which will have a long-lasting impact at our university,” Gunnink said.

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