Alexander Blewett On His $10 Million Gift to UM Law School
Pending the approval of the Montana Board of Regents today the University of Montana School of Law will take on the name of its biggest donor.
Alexander Blewett’s gift of $10 million was announced yesterday to the regents. The donation is the largest in UM law school history, and among the largest individual gifts in UM history.
UM President Royce Engstrom announced the gift at a press conference following a Board of Regents meeting in Kalispell Thursday.
“During an era when law schools nationwide are struggling with enrollment, this gift positions us to incredable things in the coming years," Engstrom said. "I am so proud of the faculty at the School of Law, the staff and students who work there as well, for being a place for such quality worthy of this kind of commitment and this kind of generosity.”
The $10 million will create an endowed chair in consumer law and a consumer law program. The funds will also provide $1.5 million for law school scholarships.
The scholarship part of the fund is structured as a giving challenge. For every gift of at least$500 others give, the Blewetts will match. If the challenge is fully met, new scholarship donations will total $3 million.
Blewett’s donation will also create an endowed discretionary fund for general law school support.
Alexander Blewett says public education isn’t being given the funding it deserves.
"The way we see it, public education is under attack," Blewett said. "We have a lot of legislators that are elected in Montana and around the nation that don’t believe in it. And I think our land grant colleges are not what we consider funded by the public anymore. They need private funds. And if they don’t get private funds they’re going to cease to exist.”
Blewett’s gift will nearly double the size of the law school’s endowment, raising it to over $21 million.
Blewett studied law at UM after graduating from Montana State University. His sons, Anders and Drew, graduated from UM law 36 years after their father.
The father and sons practice at Hoyt and Blewett in Great Falls.
Blewett was clearly emotional last night.
“We our honored and thrilled that all of these folks think highly enough of me and have enough trust in me, to place my name on the law school," he said, voice quavering. "And I fully intend to prove that that trust is not in vain. Thank you.”
A celebration of the Blewetts’ donation will take place in September in conjunction with the State Bar.