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Stevens Names Building After Gianforte Family

September 29, 2017
 
 

In June, Greg Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge after he was accused of body slamming a reporter the night before the Republican won a House of Representatives seat in a Montana special election.

Now, Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. says it will no longer name a building directly for Gianforte, an alumnus who donated millions to its construction. The institute will instead name the building after the Gianforte family.

The institute’s first new academic building in over a decade had been slated to be named the Gianforte Academic Center after Greg Gianforte and his wife Susan gave $20 million toward the project through a charitable trust. But opponents criticized the name because of Greg Gianforte’s long history of controversial socially conservative views and actions, which includes funding a creationist museum in Montana, lobbying against an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance in Bozeman, Mont., and donating to organizations opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Trustees appointed a committee to consider the building’s name in June. It was charged with evaluating feedback from various constituencies, including faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Trustees then decided this week that the building will be named the Gianforte Family Academic Center. Greg and Susan Gianforte agreed to the change.

“This name acknowledges the principal legacy of Mr. Gianforte from an institutional perspective as a successful technology entrepreneur and loyal and generous alumnus,” said a statement from trustees. “It also recognizes others in the Gianforte family including: Susan Gianforte, a Cornell engineer with an MBA from New York University, who has worked in partnership with Mr. Gianforte on RightNow Technologies and Brightwork Development Inc.; and Mr. Gianforte’s mother Dale and father Frank Gianforte ‘58, a mechanical engineer who worked in the aerospace industry before launching a career in real estate development and management.”

The president of the institute, Nariman Farvardin, praised the decision in another statement Thursday.

“I am extremely pleased that the Board of Trustees and Mr. Gianforte reached this alternative solution, as it demonstrates that both parties have kept the best interests of Stevens -- and, in particular, the best interests of our students and the education we deliver to them -- in mind in resolving an issue that has caused concern to members our campus,” he said “The Gianforte gifts will have a transformational impact for Stevens, providing support for our planned, state-of-the-art academic and research building scheduled to open in Fall 2019. This gift also comes to Stevens without any requirements or restrictions.  As a charitable organization, Stevens would never endorse or promote any political, religious, or other position by a donor or otherwise. Stevens’ only obligation in accepting this gift is to build the academic center.”

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