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Santa Clara University School of Law Names New Dean

Lisa Kloppenberg will be appointed to a five-year term as the next dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law starting July. Kloppenberg is the former dean of the University of Dayton Law School and an expert on mediation, dispute resolution, and reform of law-school education.

“It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Lisa Kloppenberg to Santa Clara University, and look forward to working with her to build upon the proven strengths of our law school,” said Fr. Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. “Her understanding of current-day challenges to legal education, and her commitment to Jesuit Catholic ideals of educating the whole person make her a wonderful fit for SCU.”

For 10 years, Kloppenberg served as dean of the law school at Dayton, the largest private university in Ohio and one of the 10 largest Catholic universities in the country. As the first female law dean in Ohio, she helped oversee the law school’s evolution to a higher-profile, better-endowed program with a nationally recognized two-year accelerated degree option and a focus on professional preparation.

During her tenure, UD Law enhanced the diversity of its student body and faculty, improved faculty productivity, increased endowed scholarships by 34 percent, strengthened its program in law and technology, and added an LL.M. degree and a master’s degree for non-lawyers. Kloppenberg also oversaw the school’s renewed emphasis on its Catholic identity through enhanced community service and pro bono legal hours, as well as a “Lawyer as Problem Solver” program, which attracted recognition from the Carnegie Foundation.

“Lisa Kloppenberg brings a wealth of experience and has a deep affinity to the distinctive values of our law school,” said Santa Clara University Provost Dennis Jacobs. “Having practiced law herself, she forges innovative approaches to legal education, champions the invaluable experience students gain in legal clinics and externships, and promotes rigorous academic scholarship to advance the legal profession.”

Kloppenberg takes over from SCU’s current dean, Donald Polden, who is stepping down after his second successful five-year term ends this year. Polden will be a visiting legal scholar at the Center for Creative Leadership for a year before returning full-time to the classroom at Santa Clara University.

At UD, Kloppenberg was known as a champion of curricular reform, implementing an accelerated five-semester law degree, the first in the nation, in 2005. She joined colleagues to successfully pursue co-curricular projects between the engineering, business, arts and sciences, and law schools, including hiring UD’s first jointly appointed faculty member in arts and sciences and law. She also helped develop conflict resolution trainings on campus.

Programs implemented or strengthened while she was dean have won national acclaim: the legal writing program was ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report, and a curriculum that included a track in appropriate dispute resolution won an award for excellence from the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution. In 2007, UD Law was among only a handful of schools invited to examine how U.S. law schools prepare students for the profession, and make recommendations for reform to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“I am incredibly excited about the opportunities at Santa Clara University School of Law,” said Kloppenberg. “I am impressed by the university’s Jesuit and justice-centered values; its deep connections with Silicon Valley and the world; and the amazing faculty, staff, alumni, and students I am honored to be joining.”

She received her J.D. from the University of Southern California Law Center (now USC Gould School of Law) and her bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from USC, with an undergraduate honors diploma from the University of Kent (Canterbury, England).

A native of southern California, Kloppenberg will move to the Bay Area with her husband Mark Zunich, a native of the East Bay who practices law. They have three children, Nick, Tim, and Kellen. She looks forward to pursuing her love of the outdoors and being closer to family and friends in California.





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