Press Release

Innovative Nonprofit Helps Donors Create a New University of Montana Law School Scholarship

PR Newswire
Oct 24, 2017

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2017 – Today, the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana announced the launch of the J. Eugene Marans Scholarship in International Law, which will support students who participate in the school's summer study abroad program in China. Designed and structured by the Fund for Academic Renewal (FAR), the gift is the result of pooled donations from friends of J. Eugene Marans, a proud Montanan with a distinguished career in American and international law.

"After his passing last year, Gene's friends came to us with a mission: to honor and extend his legacy in American and international law," said Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill, Ph.D., executive director of the Fund for Academic Renewal. "FAR helped the donors to design a gift that reflects their philanthropic vision and will have a lasting impact. We were pleased to work with the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana to build a program that carries on Gene's intellectual curiosity and passion for international affairs."  

Funded with a grant from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, the Fund for Academic Renewal provides free programmatic and legal advisory services that help donors, family offices, and advisors articulate their philanthropic goals, preserve donor intent, and structure gifts to colleges and universities that foster academic excellence and intellectual diversity. FAR also helps donors identify the specific institution and academic program they wish to support and negotiate terms with the university. 

FAR's unique approach addresses common challenges that donors face. It helps donors find the right programs and design gifts to maximize their impact, in some cases by pooling gifts of like-minded donors.

"Gene cared deeply about his home state of Montana, as well as about inspiring future generations to serve as informed contributing members of society," noted Emil Frankel, a longtime friend of Gene and donor to the scholarship fund. "We wanted to bring Gene's many friends and colleagues together to honor his distinguished career and pro bono activities. FAR worked with us to pool our funds and structure a gift that would achieve greater impact for years to come."    

Originally from Butte, Gene Marans was an involved citizen from an early age. He served as the governor of Montana Boys State and was a Montana state debate champion. After receiving his law degree from Harvard University, Gene embarked on a preeminent legal career focused on securities, financial, and regulatory matters on a national and international level. One of Gene's proudest achievements was leading the effort to secure voting rights for Americans living overseas, for which he was honored by the United States House of Representatives.

"Our donors enable us to offer Alexander Blewett III School of Law students a wealth of intellectually meaningful experiences that will help them to develop a deeper understanding of international legal work, and prepare them to succeed in life and careers," Paul Kirgis, Dean of the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. "The J. Eugene Marans Scholarship in International Law will support our globally-minded students who are eager to understand the political and legal systems in China, one of the world's most powerful economies. We are grateful for the collaboration with FAR, which has enabled us to work with Gene's friends to establish a meaningful program that celebrates a great Montanan and offers an exciting new opportunity for our students."

The scholarship fund will award $1,000 annually to one or two students who plan to take part in the school's international summer program in China. The program is offered in partnership with the Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing and the China Youth University of Political Studies in Beijing. Program courses range from comparative international business law to comparative environmental law.

The Fund for Academic Renewal fosters academic excellence by helping donors maximize the impact of their gifts to colleges and universities. We serve as a trusted advisor to donors, helping them to articulate goals, match with academic programs, and navigate the giving process. A program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the Fund provides free programmatic and legal advisory services to individual donors and family offices. To learn more, visit

CONTACT: Christina Chandra, 202-851-3603,

The Fund for Academic Renewal is a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FAR are fully tax-deductible to the maximum extent provided by law.