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Spence, Martha

October 18, 2016

  • 2015

Martha Spence J.D. ’84

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Years Served: 35

Path to Lewis & Clark:

I had just finished my undergraduate degree at the age of 32, and I knew I wanted to go to law school. I saw a poster for Lewis & Clark with a picture of a lovely building with a dome, sitting atop a high bluff with a river below it, and a rainbow. Being in West Virginia at the time, and having not been much farther west than Ohio, I was intrigued with the idea of going to school in the West, just for the three years of law school. I knew I wouldn’t stay any longer than that because I was coming back to work in Washington, D.C., where I had lived and worked for nine years before going to college. When I got here, I was a little surprised to find that Terwilliger Boulevard did not lead to a high bluff overlooking a river, and the law school was not a small-domed building. It turns out that was Crown Point in the Columbia Gorge. Who knew? However, the law school was charming and beautiful in its own way, so I decided to stick it out. And then I never left. I became an assistant dean at the law school as soon as I graduated, and they haven’t been able to get rid of me. Between my three years as a student and 32 years as a law school administrator, I’ve now been here for 35 years. It was a great decision to come, and then to stay.

What you’ve enjoyed most about your work:

The variety. The most satisfying has been working with students one-on-one. However, writing and publishing the law school’s viewbook for many years was a delight because of the great people with whom I got to collaborate and the feeling we were producing something good. Helping the school transition to using computers in the registrar and admissions operation was challenging and a learning experience. And traveling to do admissions recruiting was always great.

Most memorable moment:

I have been lucky enough to have had several. In 32 years, there have been–happily–many high points. I must say that being named as a distinguished graduate in 2016 was amazing and was a definite high point.

Favorite place on campus:

I’m not sure if it counts as being on campus, but I love Tryon Creek State Park. Even when I’m inside the law school, the view of it makes you feel as if you are about to step into a forest cathedral. It’s both soothing and inspiring at the same time.

What you’ll miss:

The people. My brilliant and generous colleagues, and, of course, the students.

What you’re most proud of:

That so many people have let me know I was someone they felt they could count on to help when needed.

What’s next?

Some volunteer work; a little travel; even more concerts, plays, and movies than I already go to; and more reading. I also want to be a tourist in Portland. I like taking pictures and have loads of photos taken from my travel to other places, but none of Portland. So, I’d like to get to know the city better by walking the town and taking pictures.

Fun fact:

Until recently, I don’t think very people knew how much I like to sing.

The Chronicle Magazine

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