Baucus Institute Receives $800K to Build Programs, Access

New funding for UM’s Baucus Institute will create more opportunities for students like LaRenzo Roanbear, a Baucus Leader who will intern with the U.S. Senate this summer.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Max S. Baucus Institute recently received $800,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

A $500,000 grant from the Gates Foundation will help students from underserved and rural communities in Montana – including tribal communities – participate in Baucus Institute programs, as well as those of UM’s Blewett III School of Law.

A second $300,000 gift from the Hewlett Foundation will help the institute build program capacity and support students.

Housed in UM’s school of law, the Baucus Institute is designed to prepare the next generation of outstanding public servants. It is named for Max Baucus, who served 35 years in the U.S. Senate and four years as U.S. ambassador to China.

“The institute is furthering Ambassador Baucus’ career-long focus on public service and providing opportunities for students to engage in the world by participating in public service,” said Sam Panarella, director of the institute and a UM law professor. “Those are important goals for both foundations, so there was a great fit with what they support and what we do.”

By providing training, education and internship opportunities, the Baucus Institute prepares current and future leaders to address the critical legal and policy challenges facing Montana, the United States and the world.

With this new funding, the institute will provide more opportunities, increase access to underserved students and create more diversity in its pools of applicants and admitted students. This includes recruiting students to apply, providing them with financial assistance and hiring staff to support the expanding programs.

Currently, the institute offers academic programs in its Department of Public Administration and Policy, study abroad experiences in China and Ireland, a speaker series and three distinct leadership programs.

The institute’s Baucus Leaders and Baucus Leaders Montana programs place undergraduate and graduate students as summer interns in Congressional offices and committees in Washington, D.C., as well as with local and state government offices, nonprofits and agencies throughout Montana. Baucus Climate Scholars intern with national organizations working on climate and environment issues, including the Brookings Institute, Nature Conservancy and American Enterprise Institute.

“My vision for the institute when I returned to Montana from China was to inspire young people to engage in public service and to give them access to life-changing opportunities to do so,” Baucus said. “I am impressed by the impact these students are having on their communities, our state and the entire country through the experiences they have in our programs.

“I believe that Montanans, and particularly our young people, have a tremendous amount to contribute to the most pressing issues of the day, including combatting climate change, increasing social justice and strengthening the rule of law,” he said.

LaRenzo Roanbear, a first-year UM law student also working toward earning his Master of Public Administration, will intern with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar this summer.

“I have always wanted to be a positive role model for my community and represent my views as a rural tribal member from Montana,” Roanbear said. “Being a Baucus Leader has helped me find my voice and use it positively through policy development, producing positive communication and creating understanding between leaders of all kinds.   

“Getting to network with experts and professionals in law, policy and communications and other movers and shakers has opened my eyes to the possibilities I can take advantage of,” he said.

For more information about the Baucus Institute, visit


Contact: Blewett School of Law, 406-243-4311,