Mary Law, longtime ‘Saint,’ to address Saint Martin’s Class of 2012

April 13, 2012

MaryLawLacey – Mary Conley Law, recently retired registrar of Saint Martin’s University, has been selected as the speaker for the University’s 2012 commencement. Law will deliver the 2012 commencement address to more than 360 Saint Martin’s graduates on Saturday, May 12, in the Hal and Inge Marcus Pavilion on the University’s Lacey campus.

Law also will receive the President’s Medal from the University at the commencement ceremony. One of the institution’s most prestigious honors, the President’s Medal is bestowed upon individuals who have made distinguished contributions to the welfare of Saint Martin’s. Only 14 medals have been awarded since the inception of the honor in 1971. The campus community, including alumni, will gather later the day of commencement for a reception to celebrate Law as the newest recipient of the medal.

This year’s commencement will be a landmark occasion for Law, who has overseen Saint Martin’s graduation activities for nearly all of her 37 years with the University. Law recently stepped down as registrar to take on the role of alumni ambassador. In her new position, she helps the University reconnect with alumni, many of whom received not only their diplomas from Law, but also support, guidance and kindness.

“Mary Law is one of those rare individuals who encapsulates all that is best about Saint Martin’s,” says Saint Martin’s President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D. “Over the course of nearly four decades, she has touched the lives of countless students, faculty and staff. Unquestionably, her contributions reflect our Benedictine values of service and hospitality — values that have guided Saint Martin’s for generations.”

“She has always taken the mission of Saint Martin’s to heart, and that’s why she is so beloved,” adds Heynderickx. 

Since her first day at Saint Martin’s — Oct. 22, 1975 — Law has been known by students as the go-to person when academics, finances or life circumstances become overwhelming.

Her door and heart have always been open, especially to international students and those beleaguered by the adjustment to college life, according to David R. Spangler, Ph.D., former president of Saint Martin’s, who worked with Law for 21 years.

“Many students would come to Saint Martin’s with no connection to anyone,” says Spangler. “Mary would take students under her wing and make sure they felt valued and included in this community.”

A passionate Saints basketball fan, Law also has been an unofficial counselor and sometimes raucous supporter of student-athletes. In 2010, she was inducted into the Saint Martin’s Athletic Hall of Honor for her support of student-athletes.

At times, her kindness extended to opening her home to students faced with financial or other difficulties that threatened their education.

James Hammond, Ph.D. ’93, now superintendent of California’s large Ontario-Montclair School District, transferred to Saint Martin’s on a basketball scholarship and reaped the benefits of Law’s dedication. When he arrived at Saint Martin’s with a lackluster academic record, she helped him turn his life around, not only through her support during tough times but also by continuing to hold him personally accountable. Hammond credits Law with his success and now tries to pay it forward.

“Anyone else seeing my transcripts would have given up on me,” he says. “Instead, she invested time in my potential.”

The Saint Martin’s University 2012 Commencement Exercises will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at Marcus Pavilion on the University’s Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way S.E. Tickets are required for attendance.

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Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

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Sarah Holdener
Director of community relations and event management
Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University