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One on One With Susan Hammer

Susan M. Hammer JD’76 has been a steadfast supporter of Willamette University’s College of Law for 30 years. She has served on the Board of Trustees and the Law Committee of the Board since 1999, as well as on the Board of Visitors since the mid-’80s. Despite the demands of a busy practice, she eagerly agreed to spearhead the law school’s First Endowment Campaign. Countless people go to law school, earn their degrees and never look back. Why have you stayed so closely connected to the college? It probably has something to do with Willamette’s motto: Not unto ourselves alone are we born. I am grateful for the legal education I received, and I want to give back by helping the next generation of lawyers prepare for a life of service to the profession and their communities. Dean Symeonides is extraordinary, the faculty is stellar, and the students are perhaps the best in the history of the College of Law. It’s fun and rewarding to be part of that and to envision an even brighter future for the college. Why did you agree to chair the College of Law endowment campaign? I think this is the time when I can make a difference that will last far into the future. Historically, Willamette University College of Law has had a smaller endowment than many other law schools — less than one-fourth the national average for private law schools, in fact. Endowment is the school’s financial backbone. It provides permanence and stability. It can carry us through the ups and down of enrollment and allow us to avoid the temptation to lower our standards to fill a class. A strong endowment allows us to be less dependent upon tuition so that we can help the students who most need and deserve financial assistance. It allows us to have a diverse and highly qualified class, year after year. For example, it is rare for a law school to have an endowed Clinical Law Program. During tight budget times, clinical programs are usually the first thing to go. Willamette’s College of Law now has an endowed Clinical Law Program, assuring that students in the future will graduate with practice skills, as well as a strong academic background. This is only one example of how building endowment makes a lasting difference. In its 122-year history, the college has never undertaken a major endowment campaign. Why do so now? The time is right. We have a compelling story to tell, a track record that shows a steady upward trajectory and a vision that is well within our reach. We have the best dean imaginable; our faculty is outstanding and gets better every year. If not now, when?

6 | Willamette Lawyer

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Willamette Lawyer | Spring 2006 • Vol. VI, No. 1  

Raising the Bar - The Professionalism Program at WUCL: Since 1996, outstanding members of Oregon’s bench and bar have gathered at the Colleg...

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