M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Campus Community
From: Andrew K. Benton
Date: April 6, 2004
Re: Law School Dean Selection
I am pleased to announce that Kenneth W. Starr will become dean of
the Pepperdine University School of Law effective August 1, 2004. An
important search has been concluded successfully and I am grateful to
all who contributed to the selection effort.
To merely thank the Search Committee, Tom Bost, Carol Chase, Bob
Cochran, Chris Goodman, Linda Livingstone, Rose Anne Nespica and Bob
Walker, a committee co-chaired by Professor Greg Ogden and Provost
Darryl Tippens, seems so inadequate. The work of the Search Committee
was diligent, insightful and thoroughly professional. The process they
employed provided a fair and objective environment in which to make what
is, finally, a complex decision that must address a number of important
Before commenting specifically our new dean, I want to say that the
other finalists also possess many of his strengths. The Search
Committee found candidates keenly competent in the classroom, proven as
scholars and very capable of leading within the context of the
University’s mission. The national search, conducted with the
assistance of Korn/Ferry, an internationally known executive search
firm, attracted over 200 names for consideration. The very process of
meeting and discussing the future of our law school with a diversely
talented field of candidates was worthwhile in itself. I am grateful to
all who agreed to be considered, especially the finalists.
Our aspirations for the Pepperdine Law School are high. In Kenneth
W. Starr’s agreement to serve, we have secured what many consider to be
the most desirable traits to be found in a law dean. Educated at George
Washington University and Brown, where he received his bachelor’s and
master’s degrees, respectively, he later attended Duke Law School and
received his J.D. A member of the Order of the Coif, Ken Starr was the
Hughes Inn Graduate of the Year, Note & Comment Editor for Duke Law
Journal and served as president of Duke International Law Society.
After law school graduation in 1973, Dean-elect Starr clerked for
U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David W. Dyer and then for U. S. Supreme
Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. After that invaluable and coveted
experience, he practiced law in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. with the
firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
In 1981, Kenneth Starr became Counselor to United States Attorney
General William French Smith, a position he held until selected to serve
as a United States Circuit Judge appointed to the Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia Circuit on October 11, 1983.
From 1989 until 1993, he served our nation as Solicitor General of
the United States, a preeminent position from which he argued 25 cases
before the Supreme Court involving a wide range of constitutional
In 1993, he joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP, a practice interrupted by
appointment in August 1994 as Independent Counsel in the Whitewater
matter. He served in that role until October of 1999 when he returned
to the private practice of law on a full-time basis.
In addition to his active and high profile appellate practice, he
is engaged in many civic, educational and law-related activities. He
has taught not only at Pepperdine’s law school, but also at other law
schools, including NYU and George Mason. He is the author of many
scholarly articles and his recent book First Among Equals: The Supreme
Court in American Life, was published by Warner Books in 2002.
Whether in the classroom, clerking for a Supreme Court Justice,
laboring as a partner at two of this nation’s most prestigious law
firms, serving as a federal judge, presenting cases as our nation’s
Solicitor General or illuminating our nation’s laws as scholar and
author, Ken Starr has served with grace and with distinction.
In all of this, however, despite a record of personal and
professional success, to know Ken Starr one must know his wife, Alice,
and their three adult children. His greatest attainment is found in a
loving family and his deep and abiding faith.
A decision like this one – the appointment of a dean at Pepperdine
– is the result of careful work, prayer and faith in the future and
those who will enable that future. As much as I am anxious to begin
this new chapter, I want to thank those who have gone before: Vincent
Dalsimer, Ronald F. Phillips, Richardson Lynn and, most recently,
Charles Nelson, who has served as Interim Dean with great distinction.
We are in good hands now and we will be for the foreseeable future.
Join me in welcoming Ken and Alice Starr, and their family, to
Pepperdine University and the School of Law. May God bless them and
their service to this community.
Submitted April 1, 2004