Back in 2010, it was all the rage to hire law deans and professors to run universities and colleges. Legal educators accepted positions running Furman University, the University of Maryland, Brandeis University, Catholic University of America and Baylor University, to name a few.
That trend cooled off somewhat in 2011, but apparently legal educators are back in demand.
University of St. Thomas School of Law Dean Thomas Mengler will become president of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, the university announced on Feb. 13. Ten days earlier, Pepperdine University School of Law Vice Dean Tim Perrin was named president of Lubbock Christian University in Texas.
Both men will begin their new jobs on June 1.
Mengler has been at the helm of the Minneapolis law school since 2002, when it had been open for one year and had yet to win accreditation by the American Bar Association. He told the faculty and students at St. Thomas in November that he would step down as dean at the end of the academic year.
During his tenure, St. Thomas was accredited by the ABA and raised $100 million in donations. The school gained membership in the Association of American Law Schools this year.
“Tom took a big chance when he came here as dean of an unaccredited law school that had been open for only one year, and he has done a superb job,” Susan Huber, St. Thomas’ executive vice president and chief academic officer, said when Mengler announced his intention to step down. “He hired an excellent faculty and staff, recruited top students, opened a new building, achieved accreditation and helped to raise a significant amount of money.”
Mengler said on Feb. 14 that he enjoyed the opportunity to help build a new law school from the ground up. “We established this law school with a really distinct mission, which included focusing on the formation of the law student into a contributing professional. We’ve done that in a number of different ways,” Mengler said. The school offers intensive mentoring, leadership courses, and maintains a less competitive, more collaborative atmosphere among students, he said.
Before serving as the dean at St. Thomas, Mengler held the top administrative job at the University of Illinois College of Law for nine years.
Perrin, who has taught law at Pepperdine since 1992, will return to his hometown when he assumes the presidency of Lubbock Christian University.
After graduating from Texas Tech University School of Law in 1987, Perrin became a trial attorney in Cor pus Christi, Texas. At Pepperdine, he has taught civil procedure, evidence, and advanced trial practice, among other courses. His scholarship centers on evidence and trial practice.
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