Judge Deanell Tacha a finalist for deanship at Pepperdine law school

Federal appeals court Judge Deanell Reece Tacha, of Lawrence, is one of five finalists for deanship of the law school at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

Tacha said she would be eligible for senior status as a judge in January, which is a form of semi-retirement for federal judges. Judges on senior status continue to draw their salary but can carry a reduced case load.

She said she was weighing a number of options for that time, including remaining on the bench.

Tacha said she had several connections to Pepperdine, including to the university’s president, Andy Benton, who is a Lawrence native. A former student of hers and a former law school teacher of hers are also at Pepperdine, she said.

The university reached out to her about the opportunity, she said.

“I’m just considering it, is the truth,” Tacha said. “It would be a huge change for me.”

Tacha has been a longtime Lawrence resident and has served in numerous capacities in the community, including as a faculty member at the KU School of Law and as KU’s vice chancellor for academic affairs. President Ronald Reagan appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit in 1985.

If Tacha were to become Pepperdine’s next law dean, she would replace Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel in former President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater investigation and in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Starr left Pepperdine to become the president of Baylor University.