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Joan and John Watt include the law school they love in their estate plans

Joan and John Watt include the law school they love in their estate plans
Joan Duffy Watt was a neophyte staff member in the PR office at the University of Puget Sound when she was assigned to write a press release about a major university decision. She still remembers the first lines of that spring 1970 release: “Washington will have a new law school. The Board of Trustees of the University of Puget Sound today announced plans to establish what will become the third law school in the state.”

Watt went on to have a long and distinguished career at the law school. She was an assistant then associate dean for 23 years under the leadership of five deans (Cohen, Tausend, Bond, Carmichael, Hasl). She was responsible for recruiting students, producing publications, orchestrating events, building alumni involvement, counseling students on job search strategies, and inspiring donors.

She was with the law school through its modest beginning at a strip mall on South Tacoma Way and remains committed to its future today, more than 40 years later, both as a consultant to the alumni and advancement offices and as ambassador. Her current work priority is helping to build a planned giving program through the growing Law School Legacy Society. She and her husband, John, have already done what they ask alumni to consider: leave an enduring gift to the law school through their estate plan.

“What a privilege to be part of the growth and development of this wonderful law school, as it became the largest, most diverse, most vibrant law school in the Pacific Northwest,” she said.

One of the most memorable moments in the law school’s history was the day in November 1993, when it was announced publicly that Seattle University would assume sponsorship of the School of Law.

“That evening, Fr. Bill Sullivan came to Tacoma to meet with members of the law school community. A packed house in our largest classroom awaited him, and hordes of students lined the halls of the Norton Clapp Law Center. As the president entered Room 501, he was greeted with a spontaneous standing ovation and a thunderous round of applause,” Watt recalls. “Witnessing this remarkable show of affection and enthusiasm and hope is surely one of my fondest recollections of my time with the law school.”

Most meaningful to her has been seeing how a quality legal education transforms students’ lives.

“When I consider the impact of a UPS/Seattle U legal education, I think about far more than the outstanding students it attracts and the accomplished graduates it educates for practice,” she said. “I also think about the concerned, committed citizens it nurtures whose commitment to their communities improves the quality of life for all of us.”

Joan’s husband of nearly 40 years, John, counsels clients on charitable giving as an investment advisor in the Gig Harbor office of Northwest Asset Management. He has seen many people who have saved wisely and invested well (but would never consider themselves exceptionally wealthy) go on to make a major philanthropic impact on the organizations they care about through planned gifts.

“For those alumni and friends whose lives have been touched by this university and its law school, making a testamentary gift represents an ideal way to say thank you, and to safeguard for future generations the ideals for which the school stands,” John said. “I ask others to join us.”