BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Rocky Mountain College has chosen former software company executive Greg Gianforte as the graduation speaker for the Billings school just days after students and faculty at Montana Tech threatened to boycott graduation ceremonies if Gianforte and his wife, Susan, are allowed to speak at Tech's graduation.
Gianforte founded the software engineering company RightNow Technologies and sold it to Oracle for $1.5 billion in 2012. Gianforte is now managing director of the Bozeman Technology Incubator.
Tech students and faculty don't question Gianforte's business and technology skills, but they do question some of his political beliefs. They note the Gianforte Family Foundation has donated money to a Glendive dinosaur museum that holds a biblical perspective that the world was created a few thousand years ago. Professors say those beliefs are in direct opposition to the science taught on campus.
The Gianfortes also are affiliated with Focus on the Family, which Tech English professor Henry Gonshak called "an extremely homophobic organization."
Others pointed out that Susan Gianforte recently spoke against a proposed ordinance in Bozeman that would prohibit discrimination based on gender identification.
"Business owners don't want a non-discrimination ordinance," Susan Gianforte said at a Bozeman City Commission meeting in February. She said they're "afraid of being boycotted, picketed, trashed, sued and otherwise threatened."
Greg Gianforte said he and his wife are not in favor of discrimination.
"At RightNow, we employed gays and we ran a complete meritocracy. This will not be any part of the presentation at Tech. We won't do anything to embarrass the faculty or Butte or Montana Tech."
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