Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, February 11, 2011


Page 1


Federal Jurist Selected as Pepperdine Law School Dean


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Pepperdine Law School yesterday announced its selection of Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Deanell Reece Tacha as dean of its law school.

Her appointment, scheduled to commence June 1, follows a nine-month national search to replace former Dean Kenneth W. Starr, who was named president of Baylor University last June, a release from the Pepperdine said.

Provost Darryl Tippens remarked that the school “interviewed several excellent internal and external candidates” for the dean position, and “Judge Tacha emerged as the person best positioned to have an immediate positive impact on our school and the university.”

He noted Tacha is “a respected jurist and legal scholar” and “experienced in academic administration, having served as the chief academic officer of a major American university.” Tippens said he felt “fortunate Judge Tacha has agreed to commit her energy, enthusiasm, and intellect to our University.”

President Andrew K. Benton praised Tacha’s “quarter century of work to both the public and private sectors” and “exemplary career in advancing the rule of law, as well as helping to improve society as a whole through her legal efforts and community service.”

He remarked the jurist “also possesses a  keen mind for legal education and practice, coupled with solid academic experience” having been a professor and associate dean at the University of Kansas School of Law.

Grant Nelson, the William H. Rehnquist Professor of Law at Pepperdine, described Tacha, whom he said he has known for over 40 years, as “a brilliant judge,” and “warm and caring human being.”

Tacha joined the Tenth Circuit in 1986 and served as chief judge from 2001 to 2007. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Kansas in 1968 and her legal education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor three years later, then spent a year as a White House Fellow.

In 1974 Tacha returned to the University of Kansas to serve as a professor at its law school, where she remained until 1985. Tacha served as associate dean for the school from 1977 to 1979, as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs from 1979 to 1981, and as vice chancellor for academic affairs from 1981 to 1985.

She has also practiced law in Washington, D.C. and Kansas, and spent three years as director of the Douglas County Legal Aid Clinic in Kansas.

After being tapped for the bench, the Tacha served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States and was named in 2006 by Chief Justice John Roberts to the conference’s executive committee. She served two terms as chair of the conference’s Committee on the Judicial Branch, which oversees the federal judiciary’s relationship with Congress and the executive branch, and as a member of the United States Sentencing Commission.

Additionally, the jurist has represented the judiciary of the United States internationally by participating in the American College of Trial Lawyers Anglo-American Legal Exchange and in the Canadian-American Legal Exchange, and serving on an American Bar Association delegation that traveled to Albania to assist in developing a new constitution and government.

She has been active in the American Inns of Court movement, serving as the its national president from 2004 to 2008 and as a member of the national Board of Trustees, as well as helping found the Judge Hugh Means American Inn of Court in Lawrence, Kansas.

Tacha is the 2007 recipient of the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award, the highest honor bestowed annually by the American Judicature Society, and the 2008 John Marshall Award, which the American Bar Association presents to individuals who have positively impacted the justice system.

The jurist is a member of the American Bar Association, American Bar Foundation, American Law Institute, Kansas Bar Association, Phi Beta Kappa, and Order of Coif. She also is a past chair of the Appellate Judges Conference and a former member of the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession.


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