Gianfortes remain Tech commencement speakers despite petition effort

2014-04-25T13:44:00Z 2014-04-28T10:23:11Z Gianfortes remain Tech commencement speakers despite petition effortMontana Standard The Billings Gazette
April 25, 2014 1:44 pm  • 

BUTTE — Despite receiving a petition circulated on Change.org that garnered more than 400 signatures, Montana Tech Chancellor Don Blackketter said Greg and Susan Gianforte are still slated to give the school’s commencement address May 17.

The petition, started by Pat Munday, a professor in the technical communication department at Tech, was signed by current students, local residents and alumni. Munday said he recently delivered the petition to Blackketter but has received no response.

Greg Gianforte is the founder of RightNow Technologies, a Bozeman tech startup that sold to Oracle Corp. in 2011 for $1.5 billion.

His wife, Susan, has spoken against Bozeman’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance, which would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and in public places.

The Gianforte Family Foundation made a donation in 2009 to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which presents a faith-based view that the world was created only a few thousand years ago and that humans coexisted with dinosaurs.

Munday said past commencement speakers at Montana Tech have been people of all stripes, including politicians from across the political spectrum and oil and mining corporate executives.

The difference, Munday maintains, is that those former speakers have not actively campaigned on social and political issues so seemingly at odds with Montana Tech’s mission as a science, technology, math and engineering college.

Missing from the petition are the signatures of Tech professors.

“In general, faculty at Montana Tech are not going to put their names to anything,” Munday said. “Rightly or wrongly, they fear retribution.” Munday said he’s disappointed he has not heard from Blackketter since delivering the petition.

Blackketter said in an interview with The Montana Standard Friday that he was unaware Munday and other petition signatories were awaiting a response.

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