Back to top


Transformative campaign gifts have propelled campus into a place where learning and discovery respond to societal and industry needs.

Jake Jabs and Norm Asbjornson believe in the power of philanthropy to inspire generosity in others. As major donors to the What It Takes campaign, Jabs and Asbjornson have personally defined a new future for Montana State University. The construction of Jabs Hall and Norm Asbjornson Hall marks a significant evolution of the MSU campus which stands to benefit generations of students—and the state of Montana—for years to come. 

Jabs, the son of immigrant parents who sharecropped land on the Crow Indian Reservation, graduated from MSU in 1952 and went on to become CEO of American Furniture Warehouse. In 2011, Jabs donated $25 million to fund the construction of Jabs Hall, the new home of the Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship. 

“What I love about giving is that it makes the world better, it makes life better,” Jabs said. “I encourage everybody to join in making Montana State a better college.”

Asbjornson was raised in the small town of Winifred in central Montana. A 1960 mechanical engineering graduate of MSU, Asbjornson founded AAON, a globally successful heating, ventilation and air-conditioning manufacturer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Inspired by the Jabs gift, Asbjornson pledged $50 million to MSU for the construction of Norm Asbjornson Hall in March of 2014. The new building on the south side of campus now houses the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering and the Honors College.

“I feel strongly about balancing the books and giving back to those who have made you what you are,” Asbjornson said. “I think MSU is at a remarkable point in its history. It is poised for growth in being a better place for students and a better school.”

But beyond simply bricks and mortar, Jabs Hall and Asbjornson Hall were built with the exchange of ideas in mind and designed to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and to accelerate innovation that anticipates emerging trends.