The Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana is official.
On Friday, the Montana Board of Regents approved the proposal to rename the law school in honor of Alexander and Andrea Blewett of Great Falls. The Blewetts are making a $10 million gift to the school, one of the largest individual gifts in UM's history.
In a statement, UM President Royce Engstrom expressed his gratitude for the donation and the impact it will have on education at the university.
"Through their wonderful generosity, Zander and Andy Blewett have transformed our law school, ensuring excellence in legal education for decades to come," Engstrom said.
The board voted 5-0, with Regent Bill Johnstone absent and Regent Martha Sheehy abstaining. Sheehy had earlier lauded the Blewett family, but the Billings lawyer also protested the lack of public participation in the process, citing Montana open government laws.
The UM law school runs in the veins of the Blewetts.
In 1938, Blewett's father, Alexander Blewett Jr., graduated from the law school, and in 1971, Zander Blewett followed in his footsteps, according to the UM Foundation. Anders and Drew received their law degrees from the UM law school in 2007 as the third generation of Blewetts.
"Today, Zander Blewett and his sons practice law at Hoyt & Blewett, one of Montana's pre-eminent law firms," read an announcement from the foundation. "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."
In a statement, Blewett credited the School of Law for his success. He has twice been named the Montana Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer of the Year and also was the only Montana lawyer admitted to the 100 Mountain States Super Lawyers of 2012, according to the foundation.
"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 money will help students, and it will create a special program at UM, said interim law school Dean Greg Munro. In part, the gift is creating a consumer law and protection program.
"The Blewetts' gift will create a program we believe will be unique in the nation," Munro said in a statement. "Moreover, at a time when student debt is increasing nationwide, Zander and Andy are putting law school within reach of more students."
A new sign unveiling and celebration will take place in September in conjunction with the State Bar of Montana annual meeting.