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Seattle University


Committing to Access

Written by Katherine Hedland Hansen
September 13, 2011

Graduates came from as far as Texas and Hawaii to pay tribute to Seattle University School of Law’s life-changing Academic Resource Center on its 25th anniversary.

The anniversary celebration, Sept. 9 and 10, recognized the law school's uninterrupted commitment to access and diversity in the legal profession through the ARC Access Admissions Program and its Early-entry predecessor and honored the more than 700 alumni who have enhanced the profession with their service.

This program, one of the few remaining true access programs in the country, is literally changing the face of the legal profession.


School of law professors and co-founders of the ARC program, Dave Boerner and Paula Lustbader, share a laugh at the 25th anniversary celebration.

“It seems like every time I meet someone who is really doing something in the community, judges and leaders in the legal profession, they are invariably graduates of the ARC program,” Dean Mark Niles said.


President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., spoke at a reception about how proud he was the law school and the university commitment to provide access to legal education to people from underrepresented groups. An anonymous donor who also believes in that mission has created an endowment of more than $8 million for ARC scholarships.

The Access Admission Program considers an applicant’s life experience and promise in addition to traditional admission criteria, and ARC provides the support necessary for their success. Given access to legal education, ARC alums enrich the law school and the profession. Although they comprise only 10 percent of the student population, ARC students are disproportionately overrepresented as faculty scholars, Student Bar Association presidents and graduation speakers. They go on to be leaders in the legal profession, bar associations and their communities. They continue to serve the law school long after they graduate.

ARC alumni are thriving in all forms of practice. They are state and federal court clerks; partners and associates; prosecutors and defense attorneys; public interest lawyers; attorneys for nonprofit organizations; educators; corporate counsel and judges.

One after another, alumni thanked Professors and ARC Co-founders Paula Lustbader and Dave Boerner for their support, skills and encouragement, and spoke with heartfelt thanks for the chance the program gave them.

King County District Court Judge Mark Chow is a 1979 graduate of the law school who was part of the Early-entry program. He said he’s grateful for the opportunity he and many other students from under-represented groups have had, thanks to the law school.

“I was the only person of color to graduate with my class,” he said. “Look where you are now.”