Founded in 1911, Santa Clara University School of Law sits in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the crossroads of the world’s most dynamic center for the study of law, technology, business and society. We are seeking an innovative and ambitious leader to serve as our next Dean. We seek to hire an individual who will lead our faculty, students and staff in their collective effort to impact the wider world in a manner consistent with the longstanding mission of Santa Clara University.

Our mission is deeply informed by the Jesuit tradition embraced by the University and the Law School. Our goal is to educate citizens and leaders of competence, conscience and compassion who will contribute to a more humane, just and sustainable world. Concretely, we aim to train students and aid the research and teaching of our faculty in their effort to engage with the issues, concerns, and problems that Silicon Valley, and the wider community in which it sits, must deal with in the coming decades.

The agenda is large and complex and thus we seek an intellectually curious, thoughtful and compassionate individual who can help us knit together a cohesive culture in a constantly changing, often disruptive, environment. The successful candidate will be a creative, forward-looking person who can manage a complex institution, raise funds, and see opportunity in the challenges presently facing legal education. The next Dean of the Law School must be poised especially to confront the unique challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dean of the School of Law is responsible for the leadership and management of the School’s faculty, students, and staff. This includes overseeing development of the School’s curriculum and programs, cultivating resources to fund the School’s mission, and managing its finances. As a member of the University’s senior administrative team, the Dean serves as a member of both Santa Clara’s Council of Deans and its Planning Action Council, and reports directly to the University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Overview of Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University is a leading Jesuit, Catholic institution that has grown substantially over the past decade. It is increasingly recognized as one of the most successful private, nonprofit educational institutions in the West. Founded in 1851, the University is California’s oldest institution of higher learning. It occupies a 104-acre campus of handsome, mission-style buildings, palm trees, beautiful gardens, and broad lawns. It is located in Silicon Valley, the most technologically innovative, economically dynamic, and culturally diverse place on Earth. Only minutes from the Pacific Ocean, the school is situated in a thriving metropolitan area of more than 7 million people—an area comprising San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, and only two hours from the state capital of Sacramento.

The University has over 9,000 students and is organized into six academic units: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Law, the Leavey School of Business, the School of Engineering, the School of Education and Counseling Psychology, and the Jesuit School of Theology. The University has an annual budget of $516 million and an endowment of approximately $956 million.

Student learning takes place in an educational environment that integrates rigorous inquiry and scholarship, creative imagination, reflective engagement with society, a deep understanding of ethics, and a commitment to fashioning a more humane, just, and sustainable world. This mission is reflected in the priorities established in the University’s Elaborated Strategic Plan, which are: (1) to impart a transformational Jesuit education; (2) to fashion a more humane, just, and sustainable world; (3) to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in service to humanity; (4) to advance contemporary theological studies, education, and ministry; (5) to increase diversity, access, and affordability; and (6) to enhance Santa Clara’s reputation and national visibility.
Santa Clara’s faculty and staff stand out in higher education not only for their achievements and passion for teaching, but for their unrelenting commitment to students. What makes Santa Clara faculty particularly distinguished, and vital to the institution, is their ability to conduct in-depth scholarship at a high level while prioritizing teaching and their continued development as teaching professionals. Santa Clara’s academic environment is one that fosters faculty commitment to both teaching and scholarship, in accordance with the University’s teaching scholar model.

U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Santa Clara 54th among 381 national universities and Forbes magazine ranks Santa Clara 51st on its list of America’s Top Colleges. It is a vibrant and vital time for the University. Fresh with new leadership, including a new President, Kevin O’Brien, S.J., installed in 2019, and a new Provost, Lisa Kloppenberg, the university is in pursuit of a bold new strategic vision, backed by an ambitious, billion dollar capital campaign, which we have no doubt will bring Santa Clara to a new national and international influence in the coming years.

Overview of the School of Law

Dedicated to academic excellence and service to society, the School of Law educates lawyers with intellectual, ethical, and practical skills that can enable them to transform lives, communities, and institutions for the common good. With a student body of approximately 700 students—and its physical presence in the heart of the University’s campus in a beautiful new building—the School is a significant part of the University. Its enduring approach to educating lawyers is rooted in the Jesuit educational model of integrating academic rigor with a commitment to personal and social responsibility.

One of the School’s principal assets is its deep connection to Silicon Valley. The School has grown in step with the region, in both size and stature. The School has an alumni association of nearly 11,000 graduates, roughly 7,000 of whom reside in Northern California, and many of whom represent or work for some of the world’s most exciting companies (such as Google, Apple, and Facebook, all of which are headquartered within 20 minutes of campus). These alumni and professional connections provide crucial support for the School, not just financially, but also in offering students and faculty a vital network of collaborative relationships with influential practitioners, business leaders, and policymakers.

The School presently enrolls roughly 690 J.D. students, 13 LL.M. students, and 6 Masters of Legal Studies (MLS) students. The vast majority of those students attend school full-time, but the School also offers a part-time evening J.D. program, and its MLS program is entirely online. Over half of the School’s students are women (54%); over half (55%) are from racial and ethnic groups that have historically been underrepresented in the legal profession; and 31% of our most recent incoming class is first-generation students (students whose parents or legal guardians have not completed a Bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university). These demographics make Santa Clara one of the most diverse law schools in the world. In addition to the J.D. degree, the School offers two joint degrees in conjunction with the Leavey School of Business (the J.D./MBA and the J.D./MSIS (Masters of Science in Information Sciences); two LL.M. degrees for U.S. attorneys (in Intellectual Property and in International and Comparative Law); and an LL.M. in United States Law for non-U.S. attorneys. The School also offers an online Masters in Corporate Compliance program in which graduates earn a Masters in Legal Studies degree. The School offers specialty certificates in High Tech, International Law, Privacy Law, and Public Interest and Social Justice Law. Further, the School offers summer study-abroad programs in 9 countries—with accompanying externship opportunities in 30 locations—such as Sydney, Geneva, Shanghai, and San Jose, Costa Rica.

The School currently employs 46 faculty members— 29 are tenured or tenure-track, and 17 are renewable-term—and roughly 80 administrative staff. The School’s annual operating budget is approximately $42 million, and is currently engaged in a multi-tiered effort to raise funds to advance key priorities in the strategic plan, especially, student scholarships and endowed professorships.

The School is committed to providing its students the opportunity to cultivate the lawyering skills necessary to represent clients effectively and ethically. To that end, the School offers students a wide range of avenues for experiential learning. Those avenues include five live-client clinics: the Northern California Innocence Project, the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center, the Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic, the Immigration Appellate Practice Clinic, and the International Human Rights Clinic. The School also maintains a well-developed program of externship and volunteer opportunities, in the Bay Area and around the world.

The faculty features a number of nationally prominent scholars and clinicians. Faculty routinely publish books with premier publishers and place articles in prestigious law reviews and journals. In the classroom and in the hallways, the School’s faculty has fostered an exciting and vibrant intellectual community, endeavoring to establish an uncompromising standard of excellence in teaching, learning, creativity, and scholarship.

The School has also excelled in three areas of subject-matter emphasis: high technology, international law, and social justice. These commitments are embodied in three academic centers—the High Tech Law Institute, the Center for Global Law and Policy, and the Center for Social Justice and Public Service. Through their respective certificate programs, the centers offer students the chance to specialize and to cultivate connections with the relevant practicing communities. The centers also enrich the intellectual life of the School by staging conferences, speaker events, and networking opportunities. The School has long been ranked among the top 10 U.S. law schools for intellectual property law, and is presently ranked fourth on this score by U.S. News & World Report. Under the umbrella of the High Tech Law Institute, the School launched two innovative certificate programs to better connect graduates with jobs in the Silicon Valley – the Privacy Law Certificate and Tech Edge J.D. Program. Recently, the School received a gift of $750,000 to further build out its Privacy Law program.

Last year, the school moved into Charney Hall of Law, a new, $75 million state-of-the-art building, which now houses all units of the school except the Alexander Community Law Center, which remains in San Jose, as this is more convenient for its clients.

Each of these important assets well positions the School to confront the challenges currently facing legal education nationwide—declining numbers of applications, diminished job prospects for graduates, growing student debt, and the as-yet unenumerated challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The School’s present strategic initiatives includes refining its curriculum and teaching methods to better prepare students to pass the California bar, provide more experiential learning opportunities to make our graduates more practice-ready, deepening our commitment to ethical inquiry in all dimensions of our program, and strengthening our assessment of teaching and learning to ensure that we are effectively pursuing these aims, and continuing to facilitate the faculty’s production of top-rate scholarship. Above all, the School aims to nurture the distinct combination of values, resources, and expertise it offers as part of a Jesuit University located in Silicon Valley.

Position Description and Responsibilities

The Dean is the chief academic and administrative officer of the School of Law and reports to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Dean has the immediate responsibility and authority over the School’s curriculum, programs, teaching, school budget, and accreditation. The Dean is responsible for evaluating the teaching performance, scholarship, service contributions, and professional accomplishments of the faculty; appointing such faculty committees as may be appropriate; and, in cooperation with the appropriate faculty committees, recommending to the Provost candidates for faculty appointments.

The Dean is expected to be an entrepreneurial leader who excels in the following areas:

Vision and leadership: Embrace and pursue the School’s distinctive mission within a Jesuit University so as to attract high-quality faculty, staff, and students; envision and execute the School’s ambitions and strategic opportunities within the context of the current challenges facing legal education.

Academic quality: Guide and support the development of high-quality academic programs; create and sustain in collaborative fashion an outstanding cadre of teachers, scholars, and other key contributors to the education of the School’s students; continue the School’s commitment to attract, recruit, and engage deeply with an exceptionally qualified, highly diverse student body.

External relations and fundraising: Continue to promote the School’s reputation locally, nationally, and internationally; maintain and strengthen its close relationships with alumni and the legal and business communities of Silicon Valley; effectively and creatively lead the School’s fundraising initiatives.

Management: Manage the School in a way that empowers its administrative staff and facilitates the faculty’s responsibilities for academic governance; manage the School’s budget and allocate resources so as to further the School’s objectives and priorities; create an environment of trust, open communication, and transparency.

Scholarship: Enable and inspire the faculty to produce nationally acclaimed research and other professional contributions that enhance society’s understanding of important legal questions, expanding the world’s store of knowledge and increasing the rigor and relevance of faculty instruction.
Relations with the University: Maintain the School’s strong ties within the University, seeking opportunities for collaboration with other academic units, including the University’s Centers of Distinction: the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education.


The successful candidate for the Dean of the School of Law will demonstrate:

  • A record of professional accomplishments (in an academic setting or otherwise) appropriate for the position of Dean.
  • The capacity to envision a future for the School that aspires to excellence and enables the School to adapt to ongoing changes in the legal profession.
  • A creative spirit that will generate and allocate resources in ways that realize the goals and priorities of the School and the University.
  • An understanding of the current challenges facing law schools, and a willingness to critically assess the institution and to recommend and implement needed changes.
  • The ability to build on the School’s existing strengths, and to continue articulating those strengths to local, national, and international audiences.
  • A sense of humility, a capacity to listen, and a commitment to leading in a candid and transparent way that engenders trust and inspires others to further the School’s mission.
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the School’s mission.
  • A commitment to outstanding professional education as integral to the Jesuit vision of developing leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion.

Application and Nomination Procedure

The confidential review of applications, nominations, and expressions of interest will begin immediately. The starting date for the position is June 1, 2021. Applications and nominations are encouraged by August 1, 2020, but the search will remain open until the position is filled. Candidates should submit a letter of application summarizing their qualifications and how those qualifications speak to the needs of the position. Applications should also include a curriculum vitae.

The Law School Dean Search Committee is composed of respected, representative members of the Law School and the University.

Santa Clara University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected groups. The University does not discriminate on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived membership in a protected class including race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, religious creed, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, citizenship status, gender identity, gender expression, genetic; information, military or veteran status, or other status protected by law. To request a disability accommodation in the application process, please contact the Department of Human Resources, 408-554-4392.

For more information or to apply, visit the application page.