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John Y. Gotanda, Dean of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, Named President of Hawai‘i Pacific University

John Y. Gotanda, Dean of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law,  Named President of Hawai‘i Pacific University

VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD,  announced today that John Y. Gotanda, The Arthur J. Kania Dean of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, will step down to become the fifth president of Hawai‘i Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawai'i, effective June 1, 2016.

“A long-standing member of the Villanova community, John’s achievements are numerous. 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,” said Father Donohue. “Under John’s leadership, the Law School has flourished, and it has been my great privilege to work with him.  While we will miss John’s extraordinary leadership and energy, Hawai‘i Pacific University is fortunate to have such a talented academic and true visionary as its next president.”

Under Gotanda’s leadership, Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law embarked upon a bold Strategic Plan that directly responded to changes in the legal industry. Over the past five years, the Law School has transformed its curriculum, focusing on the academic, practical and professional skills needed to succeed in 21st-century legal practice.

Today, Villanova Law’s rigorous core curriculum includes vital business coursework, professional development skills and real-world learning opportunities that prepare graduates for today’s competitive market. The Law School also furthered its commitment to interdisciplinary studies through the introduction of four Centers of Excellence that provide students the opportunity to pursue innovative legal fields through study, practical experience and mentorship.

Gotanda has also successfully engaged alumni and friends in the creation and implementation of Villanova’s vision. During his tenure, The Villanova Law Campaign to Ignite Change—the most ambitious fundraising initiative in the School’s history—exceeded its $50 million goal, and received a $25 million gift—the largest in the Law School’s history, which resulted in the naming of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.

“The Villanova community has been an important part of my life for over 20 years, and I’m deeply honored to have been entrusted with the leadership of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law for the past five years,” said Gotanda. “I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together and look forward to seeing Villanova achieve even greater levels of success in the years to come.”

A native of Hawai‘i, Gotanda joined the Villanova Law faculty in 1994 and served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Research, Director of the JD/MBA Program and Professor before being named Dean of the School in 2011. In these prior roles, he directed major academic programs and projects, such as the JD/MBA program, the Judicial Externship program, and the Global Democracy project; led curricular improvement and faculty recruitment efforts; and spearheaded initiatives to promote faculty scholarship.

Recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on damages in international law, Gotanda has served as an expert for the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. State Department. He is the author of the book Supplemental Damages in Private International Law (Kluwer Law International) and has published in leading journals, including the American Journal of International Law, the Harvard International Law Journal and the Oxford University Comparative Law Forum. Gotanda’s writings have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, as well as by numerous international tribunals. He has also been a featured lecturer at such institutions as The Hague Academy of International Law, the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, and Tokyo University. Gotanda received both his BS and JD from the University of Hawai‘i.

About Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law: Founded in 1953, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law provides broad-based legal education that is grounded in academic rigor, practical hands-on training and a foundation in business that prepares graduates for diverse and rewarding legal careers. The Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association, offers seven in-house clinics and more than 150 externship opportunities that immerse students in the real-world application of their legal skills. Villanova is home to four Centers of Excellence—the Center for Law and Religion; the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance; the John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship; and the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law—which provide students the opportunity to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary legal fields through study, practical experience and mentorship.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit

About Hawai‘i Pacific University: Celebrating 50 years, Hawai‘i Pacific University (HPU) is the state’s leading independent, non-profit university with a dedicated and accomplished faculty, and a student population recognized as among the most diverse in the nation. With its core campus in the heart of Honolulu’s business district, and campuses at Makapu‘u Point, Kāneʻohe and O‘ahu military bases, HPU provides students a distinct blend of small class sizes, hands-on learning opportunities, and global perspectives. HPU offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs for those seeking an educational adventure in the center of the Pacific Rim.