A Lifelong Advocate for Education and Democracy

January 19, 2024

Steve Levine’s first Montana experience was staying in a cheap Missoula motel off I-90 during a road trip from the East Coast to Seattle in 1986. That modest overnight stop gave no hint that the University of Montana and the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center would become cornerstones of Steve’s subsequent academic and personal life — and the inspiration for a generous gift he would one day bestow.

Nine years later, Levine, then a visiting professor of history and politics at Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), received an invitation from his graduate school friend and director of the Mansfield Center, Philip West, to co-direct a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute at UM.

Madeline and Steve Levine

Madeline and Steve Levine are devoted supporters of the Mansfield Center at UM.

For seven weeks that summer, Levine taught classes, lived in Turner Hall and explored western Montana with the other visiting professors. He returned home with a love for Montana and a newfound admiration for the Mansfield Center’s commitment to civic education as a means of defending and improving American democracy.

When, in 1998, the position of Mansfield Professor of Asia-Pacific Affairs opened, Levine didn’t hesitate to apply. He earned the professorship and, later, the associate director position at the Mansfield Center until 2010. At UM, Levine taught graduate, undergraduate and adult education (MOLLI) classes. He was extensively involved in promoting Asian studies, interacting with high school students and teachers across Montana, and briefing legislators in Helena.

Although he and his wife, Madeline, a retired professor of Slavic Literatures at UNC and acclaimed literary translator, moved back to North Carolina in 2017, Levine has continued his close connection to the Mansfield Center as a Senior Fellow and critical advisor on issues relating to the dual mission of international engagement and strengthening democracy.

In fall 2023, the Levines made a major gift to the Mansfield Center in support of programs, classes and activities that advance their passion for global affairs and democracy.

When asked why he and Madeline chose to give so generously to the Mansfield Center, Levine responded, “We are firm believers in public education as the foundation of citizenship in a democracy,” ― a belief that echoes Mike Mansfield’s own conviction that public education is bedrock to the maintenance and preservation of democracy in America.

“We hope,” Levine said, “that friends and supporters of the Center who, like us, understand the important role the Center plays and admire the direction it is taking, will consider making gifts commensurate with their means and their other philanthropic giving.”

Learn More

If Steve and Madeline Levine's story and the mission to bolster democracy via education resonate with you, we invite you to join the Levines in making a gift to the Mansfield Center. You can give online at umt.edu/mansfield/donate or by mailing a check to the UM Foundation, noting the Mansfield Center on your check, at P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807-7159.

To learn more about the Mansfield Center’s fundraising priorities and the ways in which you can make your gift, please contact Cate Sundeen, director of development, at 406-214-6270 or cate.sundeen@supportum.org.