A former University of Illinois law dean will be the next president of St. Mary's University in Texas.
Thomas Mengler was named Friday as president of the Catholic university in San Antonio, effective June 1.
He is now dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, where he holds the Ryan Chair in Law.
Mengler was dean of the UI College of Law from 1993 to 2002, when he left to help build St. Thomas' newly established law school. He had joined the UI faculty in 1985, teaching civil procedure, complex litigation and evidence. He also served as interim provost for the Urbana campus from April to October 1998.
Current St. Mary's President Charles Cotrell plans to return to teaching at the end of his term in June, after 13 years as the school's first lay president.
In a statement on St. Mary's website, Mengler said the value of a strong liberal-arts education is more important than ever in today's competitive world.
"I was drawn to St. Mary's for its Catholic and Marianist mission and its dedication to developing graduates who are exceptionally prepared for their professional lives while also called to serve the common good," said Mengler, who is Catholic. "I embrace the Marianist commitment to promoting open and robust discussions of faith and reason, and I am eager to begin working with the Marianists, faculty, staff, students and alumni to build on the outstanding foundation of academic quality, faith and service that are hallmarks of St. Mary's."
The Rev. Martin Solma, chancellor of St. Mary's University, said Mengler is committed to Catholic higher education, social-justice issues, academic quality and "the formation of students as servant leaders — all facets integral to the Catholic and Marianist traditions of St. Mary's University."
Mengler became dean of the St. Thomas School of Law in 2002, when it was just in its second year. He helped the school develop its Catholic mission, increase enrollment, build its faculty, receive full accreditation and raise more than $30 million in gifts and pledges. The funding helped establish endowments for faculty chairs and professorships, student scholarships, an institute for Catholic thought, and a center for ethical leadership.
Mengler received his bachelor's in philosophy from Carleton College and a master's in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin, where he also earned his law degree.
He clerked for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in Kansas and worked in private practice in Washington, D.C., then served as an assistant attorney general in Texas in the antitrust division before coming to the UI.
During his 10 years as UI law dean, Mengler increased the number of faculty, upper-level courses and endowed chairs and professorships at the law school.
Mengler and his wife, Mona, a native Texan, have four children, ages 18 to 24.