A 1984 Loyola Law School graduate named today to lead Loyola Marymount University is the first lay president in the 99-year history of the largest Catholic institution of higher education on the West Coast.
David W. Burcham, who currently serves as LMU's interim president, assumes his new post immediately.
The Loyola Marymount University Board of Trustees unanimously elected the Los Angeles native as the school's 15th president at its quarterly board meeting.
Board Chairman R. Chad Dreier called Burcham "the best person to lead LMU," which has nearly 5,700 undergraduate students and more than 3,00 graduate and law students.
"He has a long and distinguished career at the university, both as an educator and as leader, with a passion for our mission manifested in the tradition of our Jesuit and Marymount education," Dreier said. "His record of accomplishments speaks directly to LMU's commitment to academic excellence."
Burcham's association with LMU began in 1981. He graduated first in his class from Loyola Law School and, after seven years in public and private practice, returned to the law school and teaching.
He was named senior vice president and dean of the law school in 2000 and served in that capacity until 2008, when he was named LMU's executive vice president and provost.
He took over leadership of the university this year, when Robert B. Lawton resigned the presidency for health reasons.
Cardinal Roger Mahony signaled the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' support for Burcham, whose selection followed a nationwide search.
"We respect the process, procedures and the integrity of the search committee and their extraordinary efforts to find applicants, including Jesuit applicants," he said in a statement released by LMU. "We support the steps taken by the Board of Trustees and we look forward to working with David Burcham."
Burcham, who earned his undergraduate degree from Occidental College in 1973 and a graduate degree in education administration from Cal State Long Beach in 1978, is a recognized authority on constitutional law.
He clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Byron White in 1986-87 and was in private practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from 1987-91.
"LMU has a reputation for its pursuit of academic excellence and for the way its students, faculty and alumni live out the principles of a Jesuit and Marymount education," Burcham said.
"I am honored to have been chosen and join with the LMU Board of Trustees, the founding religious communities, faculty, staff, students and dedicated alumni as we begin together the next century of educational excellence at this great Catholic university."