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August 2015

Professor Michelle Oberman is Named Katharine and George Alexander Professor at Santa Clara University

Professor Michelle Oberman is Named Katharine and George Alexander Professor at Santa Clara University

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 14, 2015 — The inaugural Katharine and George Alexander Professorship of Law was bestowed upon  Michelle Oberman, Santa Clara University School of Law’s nationally recognized professor of women’s health and the law, at a ceremony held last evening on the Santa Clara University campus.

Oberman is well known in the academic community, lecturing on health law concerns to audiences including law school faculties, health care professionals and community-based interest groups.  Her research has taken her to diverse settings -- from South and Central America to U.S. women’s prisons. She has published numerous books and articles, and often appears in an expert role in various media outlets.

Oberman is also a beloved teacher who has used her research to inspire new classes as well as to inform her standard offerings, such as Criminal law. She strives to frame her teaching methods in ways that most fully develop the "whole person" in Santa Clara’s students.

The Alexander Professorship was created in 2014 through a $2 million gift from Katharine V. Alexander in honor of her beloved late husband George J. Alexander, former dean of Santa Clara Law and co-creator in 2004 of the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center, which educates law students by guiding them in providing pro bono representation to low-income individuals in several areas of law.

The Alexander Professorship is designed to support student-centered education focusing on the potential for the law to promote access to and equality within the legal system. As the inaugural recipient of the professorship, Oberman has demonstrated both a commitment to public and professional service, as well as a dedication to furthering the distinctive mission and quality of Santa Clara Law. Her work, for example, has explored ways in which laws governing teen sexuality run up against new or ingrained societal norms, as well as tracing the complicated medical and legal issues that surround cases involving mothers who kill their children.

“Professor Oberman is an excellent exemplar of Santa Clara Law’s advocating for those with great need but few resources,” said Dean Lisa Kloppenberg. “She has pursued her scholarship in health and reproductive law in innovative and original ways, shunning dogma and ideology to gain a better perspective of the actual impact of law on people's lives, particularly society's least advantaged.”

  1. Alexander, for whom the professorship was created, taught law for 52 years, from 1970 to 2003 at Santa Clara and before that at the law schools of the University of Chicago and Syracuse University. From 1970 to 1985 he was dean of Santa Clara Law, after which he received the first endowed chair in the school’s history, the Elizabeth H. and John A. Sutro Professorship. He also served as the director of the Institute of International and Comparative Law.

He met Katharine, his lifelong partner and ally through the practice of law, when both were law students at the University of Pennsylvania. After raising two children, Katharine taught at San Jose State University.  She later worked in the Santa Clara County Public Defender Office for over 25 years.

In 2008, the Alexanders established the annual Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize, which recognizes and rewards lawyers who use their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequality.

About Santa Clara University School of Law

Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice.  Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options.  Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property.  For more information, see

Media Contact

Deborah Lohse  | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121

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