The MSU Billings Foundation demonstrates the impact of annual giving in the pages of this report, and a shining example of this impact is found in Tom Scott. As a long-time community proponent, Tom’s fingerprints are all over Billings and throughout Montana. He changed countless lives, including many at MSUB. Tom passed away peacefully at his home on June 20, 2020, but his legacy lives on in his family and all those touched by his generosity through
Tom and his wife, Joan, were committed to Billings. The couple shared a special desire to help children, and they faithfully supported programs that made the most difference in kids’ lives. At MSUB, they consistently funded scholarships for more than 30 years to make a higher education possible for many students. They also gave to various projects to ensure MSUB students receive a quality education, including a generous gift to the new Yellowstone Science and Health Building. Tom facilitated collaboration and unity throughout the state. In 2002, he helped start Leadership Montana, which he chaired for a time. Leadership Montana is a collaboration of leaders from business, labor, charitable organizations, education, healthcare and government. At the heart of the nonprofit is an eight-month educational program, through which participants develop strong leadership skills as they grow personally and professionally.
When Tom was honored through MSUB’s Montana Business Hall of Fame, he shared his vision for starting Leadership Montana.
“Back in the late ‘90s, Montana was really in bad shape. We had a teachers strike in Billings and the legislature was at an impasse, and I began to wonder, like today, why don’t people get along? Why can’t they negotiate? Why can’t they work together and find middle ground?” said Tom. “So, this leadership program was to try to teach people skills – listening, agreeing on what you can agree on…It’s learning skills to bring people together.”
Tom made a lasting impact on our university, our community, and beyond. A strong work ethic and sense of integrity were central to what made him such an asset. These values influenced his work growing First Interstate Bank, and they followed him in every endeavor that he touched – which are many.
Tom once said, “We have a long-term vision and we’re patient. We’re not responsible to the shareholders – we are the shareholders. Our values are things my dad learned in his career. They’re simple: hard work, honesty, and the Boy Scout code.”
The Scott legacy lives on through Joan Scott; their daughter, Julie, and her husband, James Rose; their son, Jonathon, and his wife, Jennifer; along with Tom and Joan’s five grandchildren.
The MSU Billings Foundation and the university it serves will miss Tom deeply, but gratitude for his tremendous impact remains. His generous support will continue to pave the way for MSU Billings students far into the future.