Ambassador Baucus to Speak at UM Commencement

April 27, 2015

MISSOULA – Max Baucus, Montana’s longest-serving U.S. senator and now ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, will be the featured speaker during the University of Montana’s 118th Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16.

The ambassador will speak about the importance of Montana values.

“Max Baucus has become one of the greatest statesmen in the history of Montana, and we are thrilled he plans to share his wisdom with our graduates as they prepare to launch the next phase of their lives,” UM President Royce Engstrom said. “We asked him to speak because of his excellent service to Montana, and we are delighted he is coming home for this special occasion.”

Before he was ambassador, Baucus – or “Max” as he’s better known to Montanans – devoted nearly 40 years to Congress. He played leadership roles in many big issues important to the state and country, including the Affordable Care Act, the 1990 Clean Air Act, the Rocky Mountain Heritage Protection Act and the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. He also helped pass six farm bills that benefited the lives of countless families across Montana, breaking down trade barriers for Montana products and increasing Montana beef exports.  

He helped pass three highway bills that brought more than $4 billion to the state of Montana. He also tasked the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up asbestos contamination in Libby and ensure residents received the health care they needed. In addition, Baucus championed legislation in 2009 to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He also worked to more than double the rate of Veterans Affairs funding for health care services and facilities, which in Montana resulted in the creation of the $6.4 million mental health care facility at Fort Harrison.  

Since March 2014, Ambassador Baucus has led one of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world, which includes the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, five U.S. consulates across China and officers from a broad spectrum of U.S. government agencies based in China. 

Baucus vowed early to get out and meet as many people and forge as many friendships as possible in China. He already has visited more than half of China’s 31 provinces and municipal areas – from Xinjiang to Shanghai and from Heilongjiang to Yunnan. To advance the U.S.-China economic relationship, he also has met with more than 120 Chinese business leaders, including more than 70 CEOs from China’s leading companies.

In addition, he has met with numerous American business leaders and CEOs to help promote the interests of the American business community in China. He also hosted President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as nine cabinet-level officials, dozens of members of Congress, governors and mayors on their official visits to China.   

The United States and China have made several landmark achievements during Baucus’s tenure to date, including a joint historic announcement to curb carbon emissions and an agreement to extend the validity of business, tourist, and student and exchange visas.  The two countries also have made historic agreements establishing new confidence-building measures between the militaries. In his meetings throughout China, Baucus strongly advocates for human rights and the values that we share in common as human beings.  

Baucus served in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 2013. He was chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance; vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation; a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; and a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. He also was a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and chaired its Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Before his election to the U.S. Senate, Baucus served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1978. He previously was in the Montana House of Representatives from 1973 to 1974.

Contact: Peggy Kuhr, UM vice president for integrated communications, 406-243-2321, peggy.kuhr@umontana.edu.