Great Falls College MSU

Page content   Quick links   Search   Site navigation   Footer   What is this view?  

Our History

1969 - 1975


  • Vocational Technical Centers were established by the Montana Legislature in Great Falls, Butte, Helena, Missoula and Billings to offer employment training in vocational and technical fields including adult education, licensed practical nursing, dental assisting and food services. Original governance was under the Great Falls School District.


  • Programs were physically consolidated into two elementary schools (Largent and Washington) and administered as the Great Falls Vocational Technical Center. The Center was governed by the Office of Public Instruction and administered by policy regulation of the local board of trustees of the Great Falls Public Schools-District A.


  • A plan for land acquisition and building construction of a unified center was approved for $4,000,000; $2,000,000 state monies and $2,000,000 local monies.


  • On March 12, building construction began on 35 acres of land located at 2100 16th Avenue South.

1976 - 1985


  • The Center building was completed in December, 1976.


  • The Center was accredited by the Center by Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.


  • Will Weaver was appointed Dean.

1986 - 1995


  • Commencement exercises were established to include all students finishing their programs and were held at the end of each academic term. This replaced graduation ceremonies for each program.


  • In July, the State Legislature delegated the general administration and supervisory control of Montana’s five vocational-technical centers to the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education.


  • In August, the Board of Regents approved an articulation agreement between the Great Falls Vocational-Technical Center and Northern Montana College to offer two Associate of Science degrees, Business Administration and Computer Information Systems, in Great Falls.


  • The Center was granted the authority to award Associate of Applied Science Degrees in Allied Health, Business and Office Technology and Trades and Technology. The Center converted from quarter to semester credits.


  • A five-year grant was received to pilot the Tech Prep program in Montana. The North Central Montana Tech Prep Consortium was formed with articulation agreements in place with forty-one high schools throughout Montana to allow high school students to complete courses that are transcripted toward a two-year associate of applied science degree at the College of Technology–Great Falls.


  • On July 1, the Center became affiliated with Montana State University and renamed ‘Montana State University College of Technology – Great Falls. Governance of the Montana University System remains headed by the Board of Regents with state public postsecondary institutions affiliated with both the University of Montana and Montana State University reporting to the Regents.

  • The Great Falls Higher Education Center was identified by Commissioner Jeffrey Baker as being located at the MSU College and the Dean of the College was appointed as Director of the GF Higher Education Center.

  • Reaffirmed as an accredited institution by the Northwest Commission of Schools and Colleges.

  • A partnership was developed with the Montana Job Service to provide student placement through a counselor located on campus.

  • A partnership to provide distance education through METNET, a two-way interactive video system was developed.


  • The College of Technology established a customized training office off-campus.

  • The Board of Regents approved the Associate Degree.

  • Funding was received through MSU–Bozeman for architectural services to establish a building plan for the completion of the unfinished portion of the College.

  • MSU’s President, Dr. Michael Malone, in conjunction with the Dean of the College of Technology named an Institutional Advisory Board made up of Great Falls business leaders to give input to chart the course for the College of Technology and for two-year education in the Great Falls area.

1996 - 2005


  • The College of Technology was approved to deliver technical programs to Bozeman.

  • Groundwork was laid to seek approval for the Associate of Science Degree with articulations to 4-year colleges.

  • Development of the MSU College of Technology Customized Training Center downtown co-located with High Plains Development Authority, Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District.


  • The planning for the upcoming renovation project was a campus-wide effort. The completion of the project is slated for August 1999.

  • 1,465 people were served through customized training opportunities in 1997. 571 students attended computer seminars.


  • Initial efforts were made to develop the College as a Regional Cisco Academy to offer training to both college students and high school teachers.

  • In September the Groundbreaking for B-Wing/South Court building project began.

  • The following new program began: Web Development Technology.

  • As of fall semester enrollment reached a record of 1,000 students.


  • The B-Wing/South Court building project was completed in the Spring Semester.
  • The first Med Prep Conference to prepare high school students for health careers was held.

  • Banner 2000 was adopted to handle payroll, student records, financial aid and business office data.

  • The first Storefront University was held downtown in October.

  • There were 12 Internet courses offered fall semester 1999 with 157 enrollments.

  • Health Information Technology courses were developed to be offered over METNET interactive video.


  • The following two new programs began--Surgical Technology and Dental Hygiene.


  • A shortage of teachers prompted Pathways to Elementary Education - a partnership with MSU–Northernn.

  • The College was named a Cisco Regional Academy.

  • Mary Moe was appointed Dean/CEO.


  • Health Information Technology was made available entirely online.

  • Enrollment in Internet classes represented 17% of the College’s total FTE.


  • Design Drafting Technology awarded its first AAS degree.

  • 52% of the College’s full-time faculty now teach online.

  • Three community members were appointed by Governor Martz to serve as the College’s Executive Committee.

  • The average student age was 29.8.


  • First class of 14 students graduated with an AAS in Dental Hygiene.

  • The Associate of Arts (AA) degree was approved by the Regents.

  • The College was awarded the RITE grant from the National Science Foundation to focus on information technology education.

  • Online offerings were added to face-to-face dual credit courses available to high schools.


  • The College piloted a Certificate in Creative Arts Enterprise, laying the foundation for workforce development in the creative sector.

  • House Bill 540 secured $11 million for a new addition to the campus.

  • The College initiated the AAS degree in Aviation at the College of Technology in Bozeman.

2006 - 2015


  • An AAS in Radiological Technology was approved. The program is a cooperative effort with Benefis Healthcare. The Physical Therapist Assistant program was brought out of moratorium.

  • A Groundbreaking Ceremony celebrated the facilities renovation and building project due for completion in late 2007.

  • The average student age is 28.4.


  • A Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Construction and Industrial Trades Building was held on August 27.

  • The College Planning, Budget and Analysis Committee (CPBAC) was formed with representation from all major constituencies on campus to ensure that the College’s progress toward its mission is on target, tracked, and appropriately funded.

  • Outcomes assessment has engaged faculty and staff campus-wide. The measurement of student learning is the focus of this ongoing, integrated effort.

  • Enrollment at the College reached 1,212, including the College of Technology at Bozeman.

  • FY07 - The Surgical Technology program was designated as one of the Elite Top Twenty programs in the nation ranking 11 out of 20.

  • The average student age is 26.


  • On January 9, students and faculty participating in Orientation Day were invited to attend a Flag Ceremony to commemorate our military students and staff. The flag that was raised had been flown over the US Capitol on Veteran’s Day, 2007.

  • On January 16, the first day of semester, a ceremony was held to welcome students and inform them of the changes on campus.

  • A grand opening of the new building expansion was held on February 12 with the theme ‘Look How Far We’ve Come.’ Over 350 people attended.

  • In May 2008 the first class of Physical Therapist Assistants graduated since the program was taken out of moratorium in 2007.

  • The Web Development Program was recognized nationally as recipient of the 2007 WOW Academy of the Year Award.

  • The Practical Nurse program ranked first out of 799 programs for the period of October 2007 through March 2008 based on percentage of graduates passing the National Council Licensure Examination.

  • The Construction and Industrial Trades Building held their Grand opening. Welding and Carpentry programs began in the new Construction and Industrial Trades building fall semester 2008.

  • The Medical Assistant program was brought out of moratorium.


  • Joe Schaffer appointed as Interim Dean / CEO. Weaver Library dedicated in honor of Will and Nancy Weaver.

  • MSU – Great Falls launches new website! A Launch Party was held on April 7th to celebrate!

  • $1.9 m grant was received to promote wind energy curriculum and infrastructure through statewide partnerships.

  • Funding received from the legislature for Child Care Center and Simulated Hospital.

  • The Great Falls Public Schools Adult Basic Literacy Education Program (ABLE) moved to the MSU – Great Falls Campus.

  • October 13th marked the first ever College House Groundbreaking Ceremony where the Great Falls College MSU carpentry students built a home for NeighborWorks Great Falls.

  • Graphic Design was introduced as a new program.

  • Invenergy donated two wind turbine blades that are 122 feet long and weigh 6.5 tons to MSU-Great Falls College of Technology's Wind Energy program.


  • Waded Cruzado appointed as President of Montana State University.

  • Dr. Joe Schaffer accepted a permanent appointment as Dean/CEO of MSU - Great Falls.

  • Great Falls Emergency Services donated a working ambulance to the EMS-Paramedic Program at MSU – Great Falls.

  • A 50kW wind turbine was installed which will provide supplemental power to the colleges trades building as well as serving as a training tool for students in the Sustainable Energy Program.

  • Montana's First Lady Nancy Schweitzer visited the College’s dental clinic and viewed the Dental Hygiene students practicing their skills.

  • The college formed the Dean’s Advisory Council to help ensure a strong community voice in guiding the work of the college.

  • Montana State University approved to administrate the two-year programs in Bozeman through the Gallatin College Programs (formerly the MSU – Great Falls’ extension, College of Technology in Bozeman)

  • The following two new programs began: Sustainable Energy Technology and Pharmacy Technician.


  • The Common Ground Operational Plan was put into effect.

  • The dedication of the Simulated Hospital was held on November 29.

  • Dr. Joe Schaffer announces that he will depart to take the Presidency of Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, WY in January 2012. Dr. Gwen Joseph appointed as Interim Dean/CEO.

  • The college implemented the following programs 100% online to meet the student demand for flexible scheduling: Pharmacy Technician certification, Business Administration Management AAS, and Health Informatics Technology certification.

  • The Veteran Success Center opened on campus as a result of efforts by student veterans and Student Affairs staff.

  • The college welcomed the addition of the Advising center to campus as well to the consolidation and remodeling of the College’s Bookstore and Café.

  • MSU – Great Falls announced the establishment of the College’s Development Board which is responsible for resource development activities.

  • Fundraising goal for beginning construction on Child Development Center is reached.

  • The Advising and Career Center opened and will help students succeed and assist them in their college experience.

  • The Auto Body Collision and Repair Program was closed.

  • The two new programs approved, ASN: Registered Nurse program and Dietetic Technician to begin in Fall of 2012.


  • Dr. Gwen Joseph appointed as Interim Dean/CEO in January 2012.

  • MSU – Great Falls was recognized by the G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School.

  • Groundbreaking began on the Child development Center.

  • The Board of Regents renamed the College as Great Falls College Montana State University on June 28.

  • Dr. Susan J. Wolff began her term as CEO/Dean of the College on July 16.

  • Great Falls College MSU as part of an eight-member consortium of colleges received a $14 million grant from the US Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career program for developing online and hybrid health care and science courses to accommodate working students.

  • On August 17th U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. And U.S. Rep. Dennis Rehberg participated in a public veteran’s round table discussion at Great Falls College MSU.

  • The Child Development Center construction was completed in December 2012.

  • The new logo for the college was approved.

  • Program changes: Nursing program on temporary hold for FY2013; Welding program ramps up for anticipated worker demand in community

  • The Montana Board of Nursing approved the Registered Nursing program allowing the College to plan for its first cohort of RN students in fall of 2012.


  • Bright Beginnings Learning Center opened in January.

  • The success of the first annual Project Homeless Connect led by Dental Hygiene students earned the American Dental Association Community Service Award for the GFC MSU Dental Hygiene Program.

  • Issksiniip Native American Enrichment Center opened in February.

  • Community surveyed to lay foundation for Academic Master Plan.

  • Planning began for Strategic Enrollment Management.

  • Great Falls College MSU expanded the Welding Technology program to address the workforce needs of companies moving into north central Montana.

  • Great Falls College MSU received a $30,000 donation from General Distributing Company that will support the expanding needs of the welding program and help fund the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) gap analysis.

  • On September 12th an open house was held to celebrate the revitalization of the practical nursing program.

  • Through a new partnership with MSU Northern, GFC MSU practical nursing graduates will be allowed to earn their Associate of Science in Nursing degree entirely in Great Falls.

  • Over 125 representatives from 13 institutions of higher education gathered in Great Falls to mark the beginning of a four-year partnership with the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant. This grant was later named Rev Up Montana.

  • The work on the Strengthening Workforce Alignment in Montana’s Manufacturing and Energy Industries (SWAMMEI) project has begun. The project was later renamed RevUp.

  • The GFC MSU Development Board raised 11 endowed student scholarships ($25,000 each), increased contributions for a faculty and staff professional development endowment and a future program development endowment, and have received local business support for scholarships for dual credit students in welding and construction.

  • Great Falls College MSU was awarded $325,000 by Governor Steve Bullock on March 12 to assist with the expansion of the welding technology program.

  • Great Falls College MSU has partnered with the Montana State University's College of Engineering to offer a 1+3 Civil Engineering transfer program. As of date all engineering disciplines at MSU Bozeman have become available.

  • Great Falls College MSU started its very first College and Community Choir.

  • On August 19th Great Falls College MSU hosted a Main Street Montana Public Forum.

  • GFC MSU was among 15 Montana colleges to receive funding in the amount of $637,940 from the US Department of Labor’s TAACCCT IV grant for Montana Health CARE (Creating Access to Rural Education) to develop accelerated nursing programs and a common health sciences curriculum.

  • With funding from the CHEO Grant, GFC MSU simulated hospital welcomed its newest piece of equipment, a state of the computerized human patient simulator.

  • Great Falls College MSU partnered with the Montana Space Grant Consortium. Allowing students opportunities to apply for summer internships or scholarships to work on NASA-related projects such as the Space Science Engineering Lab at MSU in Bozeman.

  • GFC MSU is continuing to work with Malmstrom Air Force Base on the Air Force Community Partnership-Training Co-Op.

  • Solero Flamenco, a Houston-based flamenco company, held a free community performance in Great Falls College MSU’s Heritage Hall in March as well as providing outreach workshops in local and area schools, dance studios, and the college.

  • Ms. Nancy Cameron Davidson, a Montana State University alumna, gifted Great Falls College MSU $650,000. This provided 18 new endowed scholarships. Beginning Fall 2016, approximately $24,000 in scholarships was awarded annually. Included in the gift was $50,000 to assist the Great Falls College MSU Community Choir to attend Carnegie Hall in May 2016.

  • Matthew Fisher, GFC MSU biology faculty, participated in a Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) Balloon Launch at US Senator Jon Tester’s ranch to highlight the MSGC's efforts in organization of the nationwide event to document the 2017 solar eclipse.

  • Great Falls College MSU hosted the 1st Annual “No More: Let’s End Violence in our Community” an event to raise awareness of domestic violence in the community.

  • In May Great Falls College MSU hosted the 1st Annual “A Night Out for Science, a fundraising event to benefit STEM scholarships.

  • The Outreach Division underwent a name change to Center for Lifelong Learning.

  • Great Falls College MSU received notice of reaffirmation of full accreditation for the next 7 years on July 24 from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • Bear Traxx Truck Training held a six-week truck driver training course at GFC MSU in July and August. Eight students attended lecture and driving time to earn the skills necessary to sit for the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exam.

  • Centene Corporation generously gifted operational funding for the GFC MSU Veteran’s Success Center in the amount of $40,000 for the next two years. In addition, Davidson Companies provided $3,000 and Walmart provided $2,500 to assist with the Veteran Success Center operations.

  • An open house for the GFC MSU trades’ facilities was held on September 30th. Over 100 Attendees from across the United States and Canada attended the celebration of the expanded welding area.

2016 - Present


  • GFC MSU completed an academic prioritization process, which began the previous fall semester.

  • The GFC MSU dental assisting and hygiene program students teamed with local dentists and other dental professionals to host the first No Smile Left Behind Community Dental Day to provide free dental services to the community.

  • Dr. Susan J. Wolff has been named the 2015 Mike Malone Montana Educator of the year by the Montana Ambassadors for her outstanding accomplishments and excellence in the field of education and leadership in workforce development. The Ambassador awards were announced by Governor Steve Bullock.

  • GFC MSU hosted the annual Extended Learning Institute Conference with over 100 instructional designers and faculty from all across Montana. The theme this year was on student learning and engagement using technologies.

  • Governor Bullock visited the GFC MSU welding facilities to see the remodeled space in action. While here, he was able to visit with GFC MSU faculty, staff and students, as well as administrators from the Great Falls Public Schools, dual enrollment and adult education students, and students participating in 7th grade tours.

  • Lucas Volkomener won the 2016 Newman Civic Fellow, which faculty, staff and administrators at GFC MSU had nominated him for.

  • Senator Daines visited GFC MSU during his 2016 Made In Montana Energy Tour and held an Energy Roundtable with community business leaders focusing on a well-trained, qualified workforce. The Senator noted that GFC MSU is giving students the skills needed for the 21st century economy.

  • The Second Annual GFC MSU Night Out for Science was held in April. The event, aimed at raising funds to provide scholarships for STEM students, grossed nearly $21,000 this year with an estimated $13,000 raised for scholarships.

  • Governor Bullock visited the GFC MSU welding facilities. His visit included meeting with GFC MSU faculty, staff and students; Great Falls Public School Administrators; dual enrollment and adult education students, and students participating in 7th grade tours.

  • The Great Falls College Community Choir held its debut performance in New York’s Carnegie Hall May 28, 2016. The choir’s performance was titled “Music from Montana.” All eight songs performed were written by Montana composers and debuted in Carnegie Hall.

  • The GFC MSU Pharmacy Technician program was ranked in the Top 10 of all Pharmacy Technician programs across the country.

  • GFC MSU graduated their first class of Registered Nurses (RNs) this summer. A total of 25 graduates received their degrees and participated in the RN pinning ceremony.GFC MSU partnered with Malmstrom Air Force Base to offer training courses for medics, nurse technicians, and other medical staff to further develop their skills. Through a legislative allocation, the college purchased three lots directly behind the campus along 21st Avenue South. This purchase provides options for smart, strategic growth in the future.

  • Great Falls College MSU, in conjunction with Cuban Choir to Montana and the International Choral Festival, hosted a Cuban Choir, Cantores de Cienfuegos, a 23-member choir from Cienfuegos, Cuba

  • GFC MSU launched a new one-year Industrial Technician Program beginning Fall 2016. Graduates will have skills to construct or maintain machinery for assembly lines turning raw products into finished products or maintain renewable energy equipment and installations.

  • GFC MSU launches new computer programming degree that will take two years to complete and will prepare students to enter the workforce as computer programmers and software developers. The new program focuses heavily on web technology.

  • GFC MSU developed a lightboard through the CHEO Grant. The lightboard is a new teaching tool that simulates a whiteboard. It allows instructors to record videos for course lectures and labs making online courses more interactive.