St. Mary’s University President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., today announced that long-time faculty member Charles Cantú has been named Dean of the St. Mary’s School of Law. Cantú, who has served as interim dean since June 1, 2007, is a graduate of the law school and has been a member of the faculty for 42 years.
“Charles Cantú has a vision for the law school that is based in his personal and professional dedication to St. Mary’s and the law school,” Cotrell said. “In the past year as interim dean, Cantú has shown in both word and deed that he is committed to and capable of moving the School of Law forward as we look to meet the goals of the University’s strategic plan, Vision 2012. Particularly commendable has been his success in engaging alumni through activities and gifts, while emphasizing on campus the role of faculty, staff and students in ensuring academic success.”
Shortly after he was named interim dean, Cantú outlined four areas he hoped to quickly address: increasing alumni participation through giving, participation and mentoring; developing a renewed emphasis on academic quality; broadening the international learning opportunities available to students and faculty; and stressing in the law school the Catholic and Marianist tradition of St. Mary’s.
In the past year, Cantú has raised more than $4 million for the law school, most of which is marked for scholarships to attract the best and brightest students to the School of Law, including a $1 million gift from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust for scholarships to outstanding students from Webb County. Three new law alumni chapters have been established in McAllen, Austin, and El Paso, with more planned. Cantú recently traveled to China, establishing a study abroad program with that country’s premier law school and an internship program with one of China’s top law firms. The program will start in fall 2009 and will both attract and benefit law students.
“St. Mary’s is committed to graduating students who are not only outstanding practitioners of the legal profession, but also citizens of the world fully prepared to carry out the University’s mission of service for the common good. That is a vision Dean Cantú also has demonstrated in his many years of service to St. Mary’s, as well as in the past year as interim dean. Cantú has succeeded in building both consensus and community, and it is well-evidenced that he is very much respected by the law faculty. I look forward to his continued leadership in the St. Mary’s School of Law,” Cotrell said.
Cantú received a bachelor degree from the University of Texas, a juris doctorate from St. Mary’s, a master of comparative law degree from Southern Methodist University and a master of laws degree from the University of Michigan. He joined the St. Mary’s law school faculty in 1966. Cantú was named South Texas Professor of Law in 1999, and is the longest-tenured Hispanic law professor in the country. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, teaching at the Universidad de René Gabriel Moreno in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. An engaged member of the San Antonio community, Cantú serves numerous civic organizations, including the boards of the Witte Museum, San Antonio Hospice and The Winston School.