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October 2012

Santa Clara University Law School Dean Donald Polden to Step Down

Donald Polden, dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law, announced his decision to step down at the end of his second five-year term in summer 2013.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct, 17, 2012 - Donald Polden, dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law, announced his decision today to step down at the end of his second five-year term in summer 2013.

Polden, who was appointed dean in 2003, will take a year-long sabbatical in the 2013-14 academic year before returning to the classroom as professor of law in 2014.

In a letter to the faculty, staff, alumni, and students, Polden said, “It has been a great honor to serve as dean and I look forward to working together with the law school community in moving the school forward in coming years.”

Polden also said that “Santa Clara Law is a marvelous community of scholars and teachers dedicated to preparing its students for leadership and service in increasingly complex, legal, and business environments. I believe the law school is better positioned to continue its mission of educating students to become ethical and competent members of the legal profession.”

Polden’s accomplishments as dean include:

• The completion in 2008 of the law school’s first comprehensive campaign, an effort that raised more than $17 million in student scholarships, faculty support, and assistance for centers, institutes, and clinical programs.
• Creation of a “Strategic Plan and Vision” laying the groundwork to secure resources for new infrastructure and facilities.
• The celebration of the law school’s Centennial Anniversary in 2011, which drew great attention to the law school, its history, and its ambitious plans for the future.
• The establishment of several nationally significant events such as the annual Jerry Kasner Estate Planning Symposium, the annual Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize award, and the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics annual symposium. 
• The creation of new educational programs for Santa Clara Law students in Costa Rica, The Hague, and Istanbul, as well as two new clinical education programs to develop lawyering skills and values in law students.
• Hiring more than a third of the current faculty members during his term as dean.

In addition, Polden was instrumental in developing the curriculum for leadership education, a movement that is growing in significance in American legal education. He also served as chair of the American Bar Association's Standards Review Committee that is charged with revising the accreditation policies for American legal education.

“Don Polden joined the law school at a critical time. His strategic leadership helped the law school’s positive trajectory and created a strong foundation for the next stage,” said Michael Engh, S.J., SCU president. “I am pleased that Don has agreed to work with major supporters to further the school’s fundraising goals.”

Santa Clara Provost, Dennis Jacobs will be working with the law school faculty to launch a search for a new dean.

Prior to being appointed dean in 2003, Polden served as dean and professor of law at the University of Memphis from 1993-2003. He has taught courses in leadership for lawyers, corporate law, antitrust law, federal securities regulation and employment law, and has published a leading treatise on employment law. Prior to serving as a law school dean, Polden practiced law in the areas of antitrust and federal securities litigation. 

About Santa Clara Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, founded in 1911 on the site of California’s oldest operating higher-education institution, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation’s most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 1,000 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; combined J.D./MBA and J.D./MSIS degrees; and certificates in intellectual property law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for its top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,600 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deepa Arora | SCU Communications Director | | 408-554-5125





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