Apr 10 2014


Max Baucus, Montana’s longest-serving U.S. senator, has departed to become ambassador to China, but a significant portion of his legacy will remain with the University of Montana.

On April 10, Baucus announced he would donate his official papers to UM’s Archives and Special Collections. In addition, the Baucus Institute for Public Policy and Service will be established at the UM School of Law if approved by the state Board of Regents.

“As Mel and I considered where to place our papers and the work we hope to do after leaving government service, the University of Montana, located in the neighborhood where I first campaigned and home to the School of Law, rose to the top of the list,” Baucus said.

Baucus will donate $850,000 of his remaining campaign funds to the UM Foundation to cover the cost of archiving his papers.

“This is a proud day for the University of Montana,” UM President Royce C. Engstrom said. “Our relationship with Ambassador Baucus advances our goal of building a University focused on leadership and distinctive opportunities for our students, faculty and staff. Senator, and now Ambassador, Baucus’ contributions will form a strong basis for education and scholarship in the decades to come.” 

Donna McCrea, head of Archives and Special Collections at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, said the Baucus papers will be an important addition to the library’s holdings.

“The significance of the acquisition of Ambassador Baucus’ papers cannot be understated,” McCrea said.  “When combined with our existing collections, it brings together more than 100 years of U.S. congressional history at UM and makes it all available for students, faculty, staff and national and even international scholars. We are thrilled by his generosity.”

The planned Baucus Institute for Public Policy and Service will be nonpartisan and cross-disciplinary. It will be placed at the School of Law, where Baucus was a member of the board of visitors. Baucus, along with the entire Montana delegation at the time, was instrumental in securing federal funding for the school’s last building campaign. Baucus also has been a strong supporter of the school, including working with U.S. presidents of both parties to nominate many of its graduates to the federal bench.

The institute will be funded through private contributions. It will include the creation of a Baucus Fellows Program, open to both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a new lecture series.

Baucus intends for the institute to continue the work of his Montana Economic Development Summits, which brought together more than 1,000 of the state’s economic development officials and business people in recent years. “The Montana Economic Summit is something that demonstrates what we can do as Montanans when we sit down and work together,” Baucus said. “I am excited about opportunity to work with the UM School of Business Administration and other units on campus to continue this important work.”

“The School of Law has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Ambassador Baucus,” law school Dean Irma S. Russell said. “From the Montana Tax Institute to our China summer program, this new effort holds real promise for the school as we continue to build a premier regional law school with a national and global reach.”

More details about the proposed institute will be announced in the coming months.