Villanova law dean to lead Hawaii school

John Gotanda, dean of the Villanova Law School, will be leaving that post in June to take over as president of Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu.

John Y. Gotanda, dean of the Villanova Law School, will leave that job in June to take over as president of Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu.

Gotanda, who taught for more than a decade at the law school and held various administrative posts before being named dean in 2011, took over during a time of upheaval and trauma. No sooner had he been named dean than the law school disclosed that admissions data for incoming students had been falsified for an undetermined number of years, an apparent attempt to raise the school's position in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Gotanda had nothing to do with the admissions scandal, but was left to clean up the mess.

Under Gotanda, the law school was given high marks for its handling of the fallout. The school hired the law firm of Ropes & Grey to conduct an internal probe, and the results were made public. Meantime, senior administrators were let go, and the university hired the accounting and consulting firm KPMG to analyze data collection procedures and to recommend tighter controls.

The school also engaged former FBI Director Louis Freeh to monitor its reform efforts.

Under Gotanda's leadership, fund-raising exceeded past records, and last month the school announced a $25 million gift from Berwyn investment adviser Charles Widger.

The school also launched an ambitious scholarship program, helping to boost the admissions data of incoming first-year law students.

"As a long-standing member of the Villanova community, John's achievements are numerous," said the university's president, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue. "His vision to create a law school that is both forward-thinking and innovative, while remaining true to its history and traditions, is one of his greatest accomplishments."

A native of Hawaii, Gotanda joined the Villanova faculty in 1994 and served as the associate dean for academic affairs and in other administrative posts before taking over as head of the law school. He is recognized as an authority on damages in international law, and has served as an expert consultant to the U.S. State Department and the Justice Department.

Villanova University provost Patrick Maggitti will lead the search for Gotanda's replacement. The timeline for that search is still being determined, the university said.

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