McGeorge to launch first Military Law Center for students in Northern California

McGeorge students

From left, former military veterans and McGeorge School of Law alumni Alex Haggard, ’21 (Army); Josh Hudnall, ‘20 (Navy); Michael LaRocque, ‘20 (Army); Matt Buelow, ’21 (Marines); and Thomas Humann, ‘20 (Marines) pose for a Military Law Society photo in October 2019.

After surveying its veteran and military-affiliated students, University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law is launching a new Military Law Center to support its military-serving and veteran students. 

The Military Law Center is the first center of its kind in northern California and just the second in the state. Nationwide, there are fewer than 10 similar centers offered to students at ABA accredited law schools.

“Meeting the needs of our students and giving them the resources they need to thrive is at the core of everything we do,” said Alicia Montana Morrell, assistant dean for student affairs at McGeorge. “Our veteran and military-affiliated students told us this was a priority and wewanted to deliver.”

The new center will be located within the Student Center and will be staffed by the university’s new full-time Director of Military Student Services. While the Military Law Center’s focus is supporting and providing assistance and resources to veteran and military affiliated students, all members of Pacific's Sacramento campus community are welcome.

“The Military Law Center at McGeorge is a long-awaited and welcome addition to the Sacramento campus,” said Samuel Kim, a third-year law student and past president of McGeorge’s Military Law Society. “Not only will it provide a place for veterans and interested students to get together, relax, share stories, and further build camaraderie, but it will also actively help veteran students learn about and take full advantage of their post-service benefits and provide other military-related assistance. I am genuinely excited for the center to open!”

The creation of the center was a collaborative effort by Pacific administration, faculty, and staff, including Michael Hunter Schwartz, dean of McGeorge School of Law; Nicoleta Bugnariu, dean of the School of Health Sciences; Tracy Simmons, senior assistant dean of admissions and strategic diversity initiatives & financial aid; Allison Dumas, associate vice president of student involvement & equity; Joe Pinkas, director of financial aid; Mark Christiansen, program director of the physician assistant department; and Stan Rapada, military and veteran services coordinator.

“I am the daughter, granddaughter, niece, and cousin of several veterans. I am always mindful of our active duty military and veteran students and their needs, which sometimes differ from the needs of other students," Simmons said. "As an institution, I believe we should provide them with a level of service that matches their commitment to serving our country.”

Recognized as a leader in supporting veteran students, Pacific is ranked in the top 100 for “Best Colleges for Veterans” by U.S. News & World Report. Recently, the university made significant financial investments in student-veteran programs and services. Beginning this academic year, Pacific will offer an unlimited number of slots for veterans who enroll as undergraduates under the Yellow Ribbon Program and has expanded the amount of spaces for graduate students. Through the program, all financial aid the university provides is fully matched by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Four Pacific alumni have also created scholarships to support student veterans and active duty service members: Regent Ali Dashti ’90, World War II veteran Leonard Detrick ’50, Brigadier General Glenn Goddard ’83 and retired educator Alexandra Greene Ottesen ’81.

The university is also in the process of updating its Military and Veterans Student Center on the Stockton campus. The center is dedicated to providing programs and services in support of the academic and personal success of active duty, reserve, military-affiliated, and veteran students.

Renovations include a student veteran lounge, multi-use rooms that will provide space for student veteran organizations, ADA-compliant access throughout the house and an updated kitchen. Student veterans have provided input on design elements.

“Military veteran students enrich our academic community with their diverse experience and strength of character,” said Maria Pallavicini, Pacific provost. “With these programs and services, we are pleased to be able to provide additional resources to those who serve or have served our country.”