MISSOULA – The University of Montana School of Law has announced the largest outright gift in its history from Alexander “Zander” Blewett III and his wife, Andy, of Great Falls.
The $800,000 gift will create the Blewett Scholars Fund, providing three scholarships to incoming students who have first earned bachelor’s degrees from Montana State University in Bozeman. Each scholarship will pay for half of the recipients’ School of Law tuition and be renewable for the duration of the three-year program.
“My father graduated from the University and had a storied career as a trial lawyer,” Blewett said. “Now my sons have also graduated from UM and follow in the family tradition. We’ve all been so fortunate to acquire these skills at the University of Montana School of Law. The quality of the program, starting with the faculty, truly prepares its students in trial tactics and appellate arguments – our law school experiences have been instrumental to the successful careers we’ve been able to develop.
“I hope these scholarships will provide more incentive for the next generation of MSU students to obtain the quality of education that the School of Law provides.”
The first Blewett Scholars will be announced in fall 2014.
“The University of Montana School of Law is a beacon for the people of our state and beyond,” said UM President Royce Engstrom. “Graduates protect our rights, maintain our liberties and guide our state’s legal system. It is a true privilege to have the support and long-standing relationship with the Blewett family, and we are so grateful for their visionary and generous gift today. We look forward to accepting more excellent students from MSU.”
UM School of Law Dean Irma Russell says scholarships attract the most promising students to Montana and create a more diverse student population.
“Having support in law school allows for students to consider public service or community service – paving the way for the next generation of civic leaders, judges, governors and law professors,” Russell 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 Blewett’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 then moved to Great Falls where he raised a family with his wife, Fern.
Today, Zander Blewett and his sons practice law at one of the Big Sky’s pre-eminent law firms, Hoyt & Blewett, where 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 Lawyer of the Year twice.
The Blewett family also helped fund new athletic facilities at Montana State University and have given generously in the past to the UM School of Law through the Law School Building Fund.
“The University of Montana School of Law is one of our state’s greatest educational resources,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “The gift from Zander and Andy Blewett demonstrates a true commitment to the next generation of leaders and helps Montana State students set their sights on a valuable legal education.”
Currently, the School of Law has twice as many UM graduates enrolled as MSU graduates. The Blewett Scholars Fund will encourage more MSU graduates to continue their education at UM.
“This gift from the Blewett family is an opportunity to build bridges between our two flagship institutes, and a way to retain quality Montana graduates,” says Zachary Rogala, Montana University System Board of Regents member, and MSU graduate now attending the School of Law. “At the end of the day, it’s another step in the long history of Montana community members investing in our state. Many thanks to the Blewett family.”
The gift, which is made through the University of Montana Foundation, aims to make a UM education available to more students through increased scholarship support.