$10 million gift to transform UM School of Law
Subject to Board of Regents approval, the University of Montana School of Law will officially become the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana as a result of a $10 million donation from Alexander “Zander” and Andrea “Andy” Blewett of Great Falls.
The gift, announced May 21 during the Montana Board of Regents meeting in Kalispell, is among the largest individual gifts in UM history.
As determined by the Blewetts and the School of Law, the gift will create an endowed chair in consumer law and protection with endowed programmatic support in that area, provide $1.5 million for the Access to Legal Education Scholarship Fund and create an endowed discretionary fund for general law school support.
The scholarship donation is structured as a giving challenge. For every gift of at least $500 others give toward law scholarships, the Blewetts will match those donations with an equal contribution to the Access to Legal Education Scholarship Fund, up to a total of $1.5 million. If the challenge is met, new scholarship donations will total $3 million. The UM Foundation will manage the endowed funds to provide ongoing value to the School of Law and its students.
The Blewetts’ transformational gift will nearly double the size of the law school’s endowment, raising it to over $21 million.
“Through their wonderful generosity, Zander and Andy Blewett have transformed our law school, ensuring excellence in legal education for decades to come,” UM President Royce Engstrom said.
The Blewett family has a longstanding relationship with the School of Law, with Blewett becoming a second-generation graduate in 1971. Blewett’s father, Alexander Blewett Jr., graduated from the institution in 1938, and Zander and Andy’s sons, Anders and Drew, graduated from the school in 2007.
Blewett learned the value of education from his father, who was born in Butte in 1913. His father earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from UM before moving to Great Falls, where he raised a family with his wife, Fern.
Today, Zander Blewett and his sons practice law at Hoyt & Blewett, one of Montana’s pre-eminent law firms. Blewett is the managing partner and one of the top trial lawyers in the nation. He is the only Montana lawyer admitted to the Inner Circle of Advocates, an association limited to 100 litigators in the United States. He was the only Montana lawyer to be admitted to the 100 Mountain States Super Lawyers of 2012. Blewett also has been the Montana Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer of the Year twice.
“I received an outstanding legal education at UM Law, as did my father and our two sons,” Blewett said. “We love the law school and wanted to do something to ensure that future generations have that same opportunity. Our family believes deeply in the value of public education, the importance of it to Montana and the necessity that we all give back in a way that is meaningful to each of us – whether that’s $50, as was my first gift to the law school, or something more.”
The Blewetts’ gift positions the School of Law as the top regional law school, and the new consumer law and protection program will give the school yet another edge over the competition.
“The Blewetts’ gift will create a program we believe will be unique in the nation,” said Interim School of Law Dean Greg Munro. “Moreover, at a time when student debt is increasing nationwide, Zander and Andy are putting law school within reach of more students.”
“Zander and Andy Blewett have been great friends to the law school for many years, and it is wonderful to see them make such a significant contribution to the school and to the legal profession in an area that is so important to Montana,” said Ed Eck, former law school dean and current head of the Office of Consumer Protection for Attorney General Tim Fox.
A celebration of the Blewetts’ donation and an unveiling of new signage on the building will take place in September in conjunction with the State Bar of Montana Annual Meeting.
Top image, left to right: Zander and Andy Blewett, UM President Royce Engstrom, and Gregory Munro, interim dean and professor at the School of Law.
Bottom image: Zander addresses the room during UM's formal gift announcement.