Loyola University Chicago

Office of the President

Michael J. Kaufman, JD, Appointed Dean of the School of Law at Santa Clara University

Michael J. Kaufman, JD

December 16, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

We wanted to share the news that Michael J. Kaufman, vice provost for academic strategy and dean of the School of Law, has accepted a new position as dean of the School of Law at Santa Clara University (SCU) in Santa Clara, California.

This is an exciting opportunity for Dean Kaufman, and we remain deeply appreciative for his contributions to Loyola University Chicago. He has devoted his entire professional life to the service of others and is renowned for his efforts to elevate academic rigor and create greater educational diversity and equity at all levels of learning. His last day with Loyola will be June 30, 2021.

Since 1986, Dean Kaufman has been a member of the Loyola law faculty. He served as the School of Law’s associate dean for academic affairs from 2005 until July 2016, when he assumed the role of interim dean. He was named dean of the law school in March 2017.

Under Dean Kaufman’s leadership, Loyola’s School of Law became a national model of diversity, equity, and inclusion with expanded access to educational opportunities for students. Dean Kaufman, along with his faculty, developed a curriculum around relationship-building skills and required all students to complete core classes on professional identity formation, implicit bias prevention, and perspectives on law and justice. He also developed the successful and pathbreaking hybrid Weekend JD program. Other notable accomplishments in the law school under his leadership were increases in bar exam passage rates, employment outcomes, student academic credentials, academic reputation, and national rankings.

Other achievements include Dean Kaufman’s fundraising success, which resulted in additional financial support for incoming and continuing students; the sizable growth of endowed chairs and named professorships; the expansion of clinics; and the establishment of high-impact law school centers and initiatives such as the Rodin Center for Social Justice, the Education Law and Policy Institute, the Health Justice Project, the Anti-Bullying Program, the Institute for Investor Protection, and the brand-new Rule of Law Institute.

In addition, Dean Kaufman served on the President’s cabinet and recently accepted the role of vice provost for academic strategy. He is leading the University-wide process to develop a mission-driven academic vision through an inclusive and collaborative design thinking process. At the request of President Rooney, Dean Kaufman serves as chair of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee and is part of the University’s strategic planning process. He will complete the work of finalizing the strategic plan document this spring prior to assuming his new role.

He has also supervised the University’s Centers of Excellence and developed a new innovation hub for transdisciplinary, human-centered approaches to solving complex and urgent social problems. Dean Kaufman served on the University Senate, which is the primary shared governance body and includes selected representatives from students, staff, faculty, and administration. 

Even while serving as dean and vice provost, Dean Kaufman continues to teach civil procedure and education law classes. He is a master educator and revered teacher who frequently receives perfect scores on his teaching evaluations and was honored to be selected as Faculty Member of the Year on two separate occasions.

A prolific and renowned scholar, Dean Kaufman has published more than 30 books and numerous law review articles in the fields of education law, equity, policy, and pedagogy; securities regulation and litigation; and civil procedure and dispute resolution. His most recent book, Badges and Incidents: A Transdisciplinary History of the Right to Education in America (Cambridge University Press 2019), presents a unique, multifaceted perspective on inflection points in American education law, policy, and pedagogy.

Dean Kaufman is deeply devoted to the Jesuit, Catholic mission, having participated in the Ignatian Colleagues Program, Loyola University Chicago’s Institutional Examen process, and the Faculty Ignatian Pedagogy Seminar. He has led University-wide retreats and Cabinet meetings in Ignatian ways of communal discernment. In addition, he chaired University committees devoted to graduate school organization, faculty appreciation, faculty engagement, and mission synodality.

Said Dean Kaufman: “I love to teach. I love helping students learn, ensuring that they have a sense of belonging, and accompanying them in the formation of their professional identities. In all of my encounters with students, I try to incarnate the Jesuit ideal of cura personalis—supporting their academic success as well as their physical and spiritual well-being.” 

He added, “I am profoundly grateful to the wonderful students, faculty, administrative team, alumni, and community partners of Loyola University Chicago School of Law for their overwhelming kindness and support, and for giving me the great privilege and joy of serving in this transformative and loving learning community for most of my life.” 

We thank Vice Provost and Dean Kaufman for his 34 years of dedicated service to Loyola and for the lasting impact he will have on our University. We are glad that his new chapter in California at Santa Clara University will bring him closer to his family and ensure that his talents and scholarship will remain within our AJCU network. We are confident that Dean Kaufman’s unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and social justice will allow him to flourish in his new role.

Ensuring continuity and a smooth transition in law school leadership, we are pleased that Zelda Harris, associate dean of academic affairs of the School of Law, will serve as interim dean of the School of Law, effective July 1, 2021.

Dean Harris is director of the Dan K. Webb Center for Advocacy and a Mary Ann G. McMorrow Professor of Law. Prior to joining Loyola in 2012, Dean Harris served for 14 years as a law faculty member, director of the Domestic Violence Law Clinic, and co-director of the Child and Family Law Clinic at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. Harris has extensive experience as a litigator and advocate on behalf of victims of family violence. She also is involved with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), where she provides advocacy training to new attorneys.

Please join us in congratulating—and thanking—Vice Provost and Dean Kaufman as he moves into this next exciting chapter of his career and welcoming Dean Harris into her new role.


Jo Ann Rooney, JD, LLM, EdD

Norberto Grzywacz, PhD
Provost and Chief Academic Officer