Law Students

St. Mary’s Law School Dean to Step Down After his Success
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Like James K. Polk, the president who took office with a few specific goals in mind, and having achieved them, sought no second term, St. Mary’s law school dean Charles Cantú never intended to stay dean indefinitely. He wanted to be a peacemaker, and he wanted to avoid two pitfalls he had seen with deans before: forcing faculty on the school and staying too long.

“I realized that the only times our faculty really fought with each other was when the dean tried to force someone unto the faculty or when the dean tried to stay too long,” explained Cantú, as reported by “So I made up my mind that I was going to leave hiring to the faculty and that, at the end of two terms, I would leave.”


And so he is. He will take a year sabbatical before returning, not as dean, but as teacher, a role he has long cherished ever since he was first surprised that he had a talent and love for teaching, when he first become president.

The weak points of Cantú’s interim as dean include his inability to raise the school’s low passage rate for the Texas bar exam. Even instating a bar exam course has not dislodged the low ranking.

St. Mary’s President Thomas Mengler said the new dean will be sought out next summer, and suggested that “bold moves” may be necessary to secure that person, “looking at a model of legal education at St. Mary’s going forward that will be more streamlined and more efficient and even more connected to the bench and the bar.”

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Seeking someone results-focused will be in contradistinction to Cantú’s vision. As he said, he felt he had succeeded in his desire to be peacemaker when he heard laughter in the building. The next dean, it is supposed, will be more results-focused, and may lack the human touch that so well characterized Cantú.

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