The Montana Board of Regents at their meeting in Kalispell on Friday, voted 5-0 to rename the University of Montana School of Law to the Alexander Blewett III School of Law.

Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education Kevin McRae informed KGVO News about the result just minutes after the vote was taken.

"The board just voted 5 to zero to rename the University of Montana Law School in honor of the $10 million gift from Alexander and Andrea Blewett and their family," McRae said. "

UM Law School Gift
photo courtesy of UM

McRae said the Board of Regents consists of seven members, but the vote was only five to zero.

"One member of the board could not be here today, that being Regent Johnstone," he said. "Regent Martha Sheehy who did speak to her views about the name change on Thursday, she abstained from the vote today."

McRae said public comment to both the Board of Regents and to the University of Montana was mixed regarding the renaming.

"The University of Montana Law School has received about 100 comments overwhelmingly in favor of the name change and the acceptance of the gift," he said. "Regents have received about 40 email messages, and the majority were not in support of the name change."

McRae said the real issue before the board was whether or not the gift and the name change would be beneficial to students.

"The board has to make a decision as to whether this will help students, and if there is a decision before the board that would significantly help students, the board has an obligation to decide whether to pass on that opportunity or to seize that opportunity," McRae said. "This gift nearly doubles the law school's endowment. For as long as the law school has been in existence, it has been building its endowment to about $11 million. This gift will practically double that amount and will help students forever, so the board has decided that this opportunity is one they should seize rather than pass on."

A celebration of the Blewetts’ donation and an unveiling of new signage on the building will take place in September in conjunction with the State Bar of Montana Annual Meeting.


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