$1M Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Gift Creates Path to Public Service for UM Students

2018 Baucus Leaders Noah Hill, Shane St. Onge, Marianna Yearboro, Katie Wilkins and Makkie Haller during their internship in Washington D.C.

October 9, 2018

MISSOULA – The Max S. Baucus Institute has received an endowed gift of $1 million from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation that enables 10 University of Montana students to intern in congressional and policy-related offices in Washington, D.C., every summer.

Two other gifts to the Baucus Institute from Lee Freeman and Tony James also will provide start-up funding to grow the institute programs focused on public service.

These gifts are the first announced since UM publicly launched Campaign Montana, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the University’s history.

This past summer, five UM students comprised the first cohort of Baucus Leaders to intern in Washington, D.C. The interns were placed in the offices of Sen. Steve Daines, Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Greg Gianforte, as well as the offices of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

With the gift from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the Baucus Leaders program now will double the number of UM students interning in the nation’s capital every summer. Placements will include the offices of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Charles Grassley, Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Schumer and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“We’re so grateful that this support from the Washington Foundation will build student leaders who want to follow in Ambassador Baucus’ footsteps of engaging in meaningful work to benefit society,” said Paul Kirgis, dean of UM’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law.

“The Baucus Leaders program directly aligns with our goal to open doors for young people to help them to realize their dreams,” said Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. “The opportunity to work with public officials at the national level on issues of critical importance to the country, while at the same time gaining an understanding of the importance of public service, cannot be overstated.”

Noah Hill, one of this past summer’s Baucus Leaders, is from Kalispell and majoring in microbiology. He spent the summer in Gianforte’s office.

“The Baucus Leaders program opened up a completely new range of opportunities for me,” he said “I didn’t realize what existed in the world of public service, in the world of politics, in the world of policymaking. The experience really confirmed for me what I need to be doing with my professional career.”

The Baucus Institute builds on the bipartisan, consensus-building public service that Ambassador Baucus exemplified during his career.

“Of all the things I’ve done since I’ve left public service, there is nothing that compares with this,” Baucus said in explaining his passion for the program. “During these times of increased partisanship, it is even more important for our youth to become interested in public service. They are our future, and if they get involved in public service early, they are going to lead a better life, and the rest of us are going to lead a better life.”

As the Baucus Institute launches these new programs, it will host its inaugural lecture series with Maureen Dowd and Carl Hulse speaking about “Journalism in the Age of Trump” from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, in UM’s Dennison Theatre.

Campaign Montana is a comprehensive, seven-year fundraising campaign and aims to inspire $400 million in philanthropic giving by the end of 2020. Donors will help achieve UM President Seth Bodnar’s vision of a university that puts student success at the forefront, driving excellence and innovation in teaching, research and learning.

The campaign is managed by the UM Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization that inspires philanthropic support to enhance excellence and opportunity at UM.
Visit www.campaignmontana.org to learn more.