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Loyola Marymount names its first permanent lay president

October 4, 2010 |  6:08 pm

Loyola Marymount University, the 8,700-student Jesuit school in Los Angeles, on Monday named its first permanent lay president, choosing its interim leader, David W. Burcham.

A graduate and former dean of Loyola Law School, Burcham has served as the university's second in command for two years. Father Robert B. Lawton, a Jesuit, resigned as president for health reasons in March. Burcham then led the school on a temporary basis while a search was conducted.

An increasing number of Catholic universities around the country have lay presidents. But the change can rattle traditionalists and, in announcing the appointment, Loyola Marymount included statements of support from the archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, and incoming Archbishop Jose Gomez, who will succeed Mahony. R. Chad Dreier, chairman of the school's Board of Trustees, said trustees initially hoped for a Jesuit president but then realized their best candidate "was right here in our midst."

Burcham, 59, was an attorney in private practice before he became a law professor. He is credited with helping to strengthen the financial health of both the law school in downtown L.A. and the main campus in the Westchester area.

-- Larry Gordon